News Briefs: NLRB Notices

NLRB NOTICE DEADLINE DELAYED
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has delayed the deadline for nonunion employers to post a notice about workers’ rights to unionize until Jan. 31, 2012. The NLRB had set an original Nov. 14 deadline but rolled it back after receiving a number of questions from businesses. The decision “was made in the interest of ensuring broad voluntary compliance,” according to a PLANSPONSOR report.

CELL PHONE COMPLIANCE
The IRS has issued new guidance on the business use of cell phones. If an employer provides cell phones to its workers for “noncompensatory business purposes,” the IRS will treat both business and personal use of such phones as a “working-condition fringe benefit” and will make the phones and phone use exempt from employees’ wages.

‘FIDUCIARY’ CHANGE
The Department of Labor plans to rework its proposal to change the definition of “fiduciary” as it relates to employer-sponsored plans. The agency decided to revisit its proposal after receiving feedback from the public and members of Congress. The new proposal is expected to be announced in early 2012.

‘ESSENTIAL’ MUST BE AFFORDABLE
A federal advisory panel has created guidelines on how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should define “essential benefits” when setting up the new health insurance exchanges created by the health care reform law. The Institute of Medicine said HHS must consider both the cost and the effectiveness of the benefits, including what the average cost of coverage would be for a small employer in 2014. HHS has not said when it will announce the rules, but they are expected to come sometime in 2012.

CLASSIFICATION HELP
The IRS has launched a new program to help employers sort out past worker classification problems. The Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) will permit employers to solve compliance issues by making a minimal payment covering past payroll taxes instead of waiting for an audit by the IRS. The VCSP is designed to boost corporate tax compliance and reduce some administrative burdens for employers, the IRS said.

TRACKING HIKES
A new government website allows consumers to see if a health insurance company in their state has raised its rates. The site also lists why the company hiked the rates. Previously, only a few states individually listed rate increase information on their websites, according to Steve Larsen of the Department of Health and Human Services. The website can be viewed at:

http://companyprofiles.healthcare.gov/

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