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NLRB postponed posting date from Nov. 14 to Jan. 31, 2012

The National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) requirement for employers to notify their employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act, has been postponed from Nov. 14 to Jan. 31, 2012, to allow for enhanced education and outreach to employers, particularly those who operate small and medium sized businesses.

DOL, IRS and states partner to crack down on misclassifications

In addition to the new memorandum of agreement between the IRS and the Department of Labor aimed at addressing worker misclassifications issues, 11 state agencies have agreed to participate. The federal agencies will share information with the states to aggressively pursue the offending employers.

Previously, such employers might be subject to a fine from a state agency for failing to pay proper unemployment or Workers' Vompensation insurance payments. Under the new agreements, a Labor Department spokesman said such companies now could face fines from federal agencies for federal wage violations. Also, the IRS could go after the companies for unpaid taxes.

The following nine states have signed agreements with the Labor Department: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Utah and Washington. New York and Illinois have indicated they will sign up soon.

Health care costs rise 9% in 2011

After several years of relatively modest premium increases, annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage in the U.S. increased to $15,073 in 2011, up 9% from 2010, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2011 Employer Health Benefits Survey. On average, American workers paid $4,129 and employers paid $10,944 toward those annual family coverage premiums.

For worker-only health coverage, premiums increased 8% in 2011 to reach $5,429 annually, according to the survey. Workers on average paid $921 toward this coverage.Kaiser estimates that one to two percentage points of the increase this year is related to provisions of the new health care law that are already in effect, like coverage for children up to 26 years old and preventive services like mammograms.

Smoking analysis identifies areas of risk

Cigarette smoking is most prevalent among workers in mining, hotel and food services, and construction, according to an analysis published in the Sept. 30 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Researchers, using 2004-2010 data from the National Health Interview Survey, said about 30% of workers in each of those industries smoke. Conversely, 9.7% smoke in the education services industry, which had the lowest percentage of smokers.

Overall, smokers account for 19.6% of workers, with the habit most prevalent among people who lack a high school diploma and health insurance, live below the poverty line, and are 18-24 years old. Although smoking is down 42.4% since 1965, CDC said declines have slowed in recent years.