Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Health Care Bill Easter Eggs

Easter is this Sunday so it's the perfect time for an Easter egg hunt. You may have heard (just maybe) that Congress passed a new health care law that was signed by President Obama last week. Well, not surprisingly, within the thousands of pages of new legislation, some lesser-known items were tucked away. People are starting to find them now, so let's look at a few of them.

Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers
One provision of the new health care law amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to generally require employers to provide:
(A) a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth; and
(B) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.
The law does not require compensation for this time and some employers are excluded.

I'd like to recognize those bloggers who came before me on this topic (links go to their posts covering this topic):
Tax Deduction Reduction for Retiree Drug Benefits
Some major companies are announcing major losses. As a Denver Post op-ed explains, AT&T "announced it would take a $1 billion, non-cash, first-quarter loss because the bill ends an exemption on benefits for retirees." And other large companies announced additional hundreds of millions of dollars in hits. Now, Rep. Henry Waxman wants the CEOs of those companies to come to D.C. and explain it.

Twenty-Six Year Old "Children"
Parents will be able to keep their children on the parents' health insurance plan up to age twenty-six. As the St. Petersburg Times explains:
"In six months, health plans would be required to allow young adults to remain on their parents' health policies until age 26, with their parents' agreement. This would apply to almost all existing plans. But it's only for adult children who aren't offered coverage through their employers, and grandchildren aren't eligible."
No doubt welcome news to recent college grads bombarded with the harshness of the "real world" in a down economy.

Restaurant Menus
OK, I don't know how employment law-y this is, but it's near and dear to my fast food-loving heart. Chain restaurants must provide calorie information on their menus and promotional signs.

Keep Looking...
I'm sure there are plenty of Easter eggs still tucked away so keep looking!

Image: Public Domain from Library of Congress - The prize basket at the Easter egg rolling at the White House, April 2, 1923.

Posted by Philip Miles, an employment lawyer with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania.