BLR News

7/1/2002

Privacy and FLSA Reform Among Hot Issues Discussed at 2002 HR Forum

The action packed 2002 HR Forum, held May 9-12 aboard the cruise ship QE2, covered many practical and strategic issues of concern to the approximately 350 participating HR professionals. This yearly conference sponsored by Richmond Events Inc. is always highly rated by participants. This year’s program included a well-received panel discussion on legal issues for American businesses to watch in 2002. Here’s a quick overview:

Privacy. Privacy is a very hot topic with employers. HIPAA is in the process of issuing new regulations governing employees’ confidential health information. Although employers are not technically covered by the regulations, employers who self-administer their plans fall within the HIPPA definition of a health care plan and therefore must abide by these new rules. Also hot in the privacy area: genetic information statutes, electronic monitoring, and the new EU privacy directives.

FLSA / Compensation. Legislation has been introduced to extend compensatory time to the private sector. In addition, three bills are pending to increase the minimum wage to between $6.15 to $6.65. Finally, there has been discussion about updating both the duties and salaries tests for white-collar exemptions under FLSA to accurately reflect today’s workforce.

Healthcare reform. The Patient’s Bill of Rights passed in the Senate last summer. The Bush/Norwood Compromise (a similar version with lower employer liability) passed in the House of Representatives. There has been no resolution to date. In addition, the Mental Health Parity Act expires at the end of this year. It is expected that Congress will extend the Act. Another issue to watch is contraceptive coverage – currently regulated by state law, but national legislation has been introduced.

The program, entitled Meet Your Next Migraine, Laws and Regulations With the Power to Change the HR Function, featured Amy Fauver and Bruce Plent, both attorneys and editors with Business & Legal Reports. Also included on the panel were Brian Arbetter, an employment law partner at Baker and McKenzie, and Diana Gregory, a regional HR Director for Pitney Bowes.

Attendees gave the event high marks. "This is exactly the kind of information I need," said one attendee. "These laws are changing all the time and if you don’t stay on top of the changes you are putting your company at enormous risk"

Richmond Events sponsors the HR Forum and similar events in other industries. Information can be obtained at www.richmondevents.com