New York Labor Law Blog

Legal assistance with summary plan descriptions and labor law

Ensuring employee benefits is a substantially important part of what a labor union does. For New Yorkers who have concerns about various factors related to their benefits as an employee, a legal firm that is experienced with issues such as a summary plan description (SPD) and other matters is imperative. SPD has an influence on ERISA, health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, pensions and more. A legal professional is vital to formulate and oversee these plans and the SPD is key toward that end.

SPD is how the plan rights and responsibilities are communicated to its members. With ERISA, there are certain requirements for SPD. With the SPD, there will be a great deal of information for compliance to be assured. It must also be easy to comprehend to those who are participating. It will provide a summary of the provisions within the document. A plan sponsor might alter the provisions. There might be an amendment that alters the information that must be in the SPD. If that is the case, ERISA requires that there be a summary of material modification (SMM) given to participants.

What does the new construction training law mean for workers?

It's no secret that construction work is among the most dangerous jobs in America. Potential safety hazards manifest themselves every day. Employees, contractors and unions alike must always be vigilant in preventing accidents. With the help of collective bargaining and labor unions, construction workers have been able to secure better safety standards throughout the years, but there is still work to be done.

Construction accidents up in 2017

According to Crain's New York Business, construction and demolition have both increased in New York City this year. However, this rise in activity has also brought a surge in construction accidents. As past OSHA studies indicate, a rise in productivity does often bring an increase in worker injuries. 

Employees should pay attention to new FMLA regulations

In New York, employees are accorded certain rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act. It is important that both employers and employees adhere to the law regarding FMLA. An important part of that is understanding when paid leave must be provided under FMLA and what changes are in store for the coming year and beyond. A worker who is denied these employee benefits should be fully cognizant of the exact regulations so they can act if they are denied and move forward with employment litigation.

In 2018, private employers will be required to give paid leave based on FMLA to workers who take time off for a variety of reasons from the birth of a child, adopting a child, taking care of an ill relative, or when a loved one is deployed in the military among other reasons. They will receive eight weeks of wages, their health insurance coverage and a guarantee that their job will be reinstated when they return to work. For workers who are employed for at least 20 hours per week, they can have leave after they have been on the job for 26 weeks. For those who work fewer than 20 hours per week, it will begin after 175 days of work.

What notice am I required to give an employer when using FMLA?

When New York employees seek to exercise their rights to time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), there are certain factors their union leadership and they must be aware of to comply with the law. For example, when an employee is eligible for FMLA and is set to use it, there are certain requirements that must be adhered to when informing the employer. If there is an issue with the employee taking leave or there are allegations as to a failure to adhere to protocol, legal help might be necessary.

Employees who are going to use FMLA must give a notice of 30 days to the employer if it is possible. When it is not possible to give that notice within 30 days, the employee must provide it as soon as it is practicable. This is the same or the next business day. If it is not foreseeable that the FMLA will be used, the employee must tell the employer based on the situation. If there are no unusual circumstances, the employee is required to follow the basic agreement with the employer when asking for leave.

Union members protest proposed cuts to benefits from Hilton

For New York union members who do not believe they are being treated fairly when employers are negotiating a new contract or are failing to live up to the requirements of a current contract, it is imperative to understand labor law, the right to protest and how to negotiate a settlement to the dispute. Workers have alternatives when collective bargaining and various tactics such as picketing and even encouraging a boycott of the business are ways to make certain that their complaints are heard. Having legal assistance with these matters is vital to any situation.

A Hilton hotel in New York is being picketed by union members because of attempts on the part of ownership to eliminate a pension plan and a request for other concessions on the part of the union. The Hotel Trades Council represents an estimated 35,000 workers across the state including 140 at this Hilton. The people are bartenders, food service employees, cooks, front desk employees and more. The ownership group is negotiating its first contract with this union.

How does FMLA address a serious health issue?

New York workers have the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide various protections and rights. One of the reasons for taking the time off accorded to workers under FMLA is if there is a serious health condition being suffered by a worker or a family member of the worker. Understanding how the law defines "serious health condition" and the medical certification that is required to prove that it was necessary and applicable to FMLA is essential when seeking to use this benefit.

An eligible serious health condition is an injury, illness, impairment or mental or physical condition that has one or more of the following: a time at which there will be incapacity or treatment as part of inpatient care at a facility; incapacity that will last for more than three calendar days from work, school or other activities that requires treatment and supervision of a health care professional; a period in which the person must be inactive because of pregnancy or providing prenatal care; a time of inactivity because of a serious health issue; a time period that is permanent or of an extended period because of the treatment that might not be effective; missing work because of treatments after a referral by a health care professional that might lead to incapacity of more than three straight days if it there is no treatment.

Understanding how FMLA is useful to eligible workers

New Yorkers should be aware that U.S. labor law gives them the right to take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), should the need arise. With FMLA, there are certain employee benefits available to take time off for a variety of health-related and personal reasons without fear of losing the job. There are eligibility requirements with FMLA, but once a person is eligible, he or she can use it. Amid these benefits, it is important to know what benefits FMLA provides.

A person who has a health issue that will require missed time at work, or to care for a loved one, will get up to 12 weeks available to be off and still have job protection. When the leave is taken, the worker will also remain on the employer's health insurance program as if no time off was taken.

HIPPA, nondiscrimination requirements and health factors

Union members in New York should know certain facts about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), how it works and when they are shielded from discrimination. Since health coverage has become such a hot topic and its status is growing more confusing, having coverage as part of an agreement for employee benefits is more important. Knowing facts about HIPAA is vital.

HIPAA does the following for group health plans: it provides people certain enrollment rights when they have special events such as the birth of a child; it prohibits discrimination in eligibility, benefits and premiums based on health factors; and it does not have preexisting condition exclusions for those who joined from January 1, 2014 forward. For those who signed up prior to that date, they no longer must issue a general notice of preexisting condition exclusion.

Labor union representing rail workers threatens strike

For New York workers in any job, one of the most powerful levers they have in ensuring that they are treated fairly with employee benefits and other issues is their ability to strike. In turn, the union must represent the interests of all union members to maximize their ability to get what they are asking for at the collective bargaining table. The idea of a union is to serve the interests of its members and part of that is to have competent and experienced legal representation.

The union head for the Association of Commuter Rail Employees, also known as ACRE, is seeking approval from the members to strike against Metro-North over contractual disputes. The basis for this are the allegations that the railroad had committed violations of agreements. Metro-North is a vital part of people getting back and forth. It serves approximately 280,000 commuters every workday. Most of the members of the union work as engineers and conductors, so their presence is imperative for the railroad to run. For its part, Metro-North says that it will not negotiate in the media and the negotiations with the union are ongoing.

Turning a grievance into a win

Unions fight for the rights of members. These rights are spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement. When these rights are trampled or ignored, a grievance must be filed.

That's where Pitta Law goes to work. Our attorneys represent unions in cases involving disciplinary measures, improper demotions, wage and hour disputes, poor working conditions, denial of benefits and unfair treatment.

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