Some recent updates of interest for Michigan employers.

by Sheralee Hurwitz

1.  Michigan is one of a handful of states which now protects employee on-line privacy.  The Internet Privacy Protection Act prohibits employers (and educational institutions) from asking for passwords and other account information used to access private internet and email accounts, including social networks like FaceBook and Twitter.  According to the Act:

  • An employer cannot request an employee or an applicant for employment to grant access to or allow observation of, or disclose information that allows access to or observation of the employee’s or applicant’s personal internet account.
  • An employer also cannot discharge, discipline, fail to hire,
  • or otherwise penalize an employee or applicant for employment for failure to grant access to, allow observation of, or disclose information that allows access to or observation of the employee’s or applicant’s personal internet account.

There are exceptions that specifically permit an employer to access employer provided devices, business related on-line accounts, or employee social media accounts in connection with certain work place investigations.  Employers can also continue to restrict access to certain websites and monitor employee communications on its network, and discipline them for transferring the employer’s proprietary or confidential information without authorization.

2.  The United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services has implemented a new I-9 form.  That I-9 form is accessible at: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf.  Employers are required to begin using the form immediately, but there is a transitional period until May 7, 2013, which allows employers to transition the new forms into their existing hiring processes.  There is no need for employers to replace all I-9 forms for current employees.  If an employee is re-hired, or re-verification is required for another reason, the new I-9 form should be used.  Employers will find that the format and layout of the form has changed, but the nature of the data required is substantially similar.

3.  Finally, for employers with 50 or more employees, the DOL published new FMLA regulations effective March 8, 2013, which made changes to (1) model FMLA certification forms, (2)  intermittent leave requirements, (3) exigency and military caregiver leave, and (4) flight rules.  The final rule includes:

  •  A new category of exigency leave for parental care increases the maximum number of days (from 5 to 15 calendar days) for qualifying employees to take  exigency leave to bond with a military member on rest and recuperative leave;
  •  Makes effective amendments that extends military caregiver leave to familymembers of certain veterans with qualifying serious injuries or illnesses;
  •  Clarifies the scope of exigency leave to family members of those in the regular armed forces, and;
  •  Clarifies the existing regulation regarding the appropriate increment to calculate intermittent and reduced-scheduled leave.

The DOL has revised various FMLA forms to reflect these new regulations, including the Certification Of Health Care Provider For Employee Serious Health Condition, Certification Of Health Care Provider For Family Member Serious Health Condition, Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Current Servicemember-For Military Family Leave, and Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave).

If you have any questions regarding the updated regulations, or how to access appropriate FMLA forms, please contact your Lewis Reed & Allen, P.C. attorney.

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