September 2011 Client Alerts

October 21, 2011

Authored by: Bryan Cave

Social Media and the National Labor Relations Act:  A Trap for Unwary Employers

The use of social media has become one of the most rapidly-changing areas in employment law today.  What most employers do not realize is that the National Labor Relations Board has become very active in policing both the substance of social media policies and the actions of employers in addressing social media concerns.  Please click here to read an overview of NLRB activity in the area of employee use of social media published by the Labor & Employment and Internet & New Media Client Service Groups on September 23, 2011.

Check It Out and Check It Off:  2012 Group Health Plan Checklist

While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended (“PPACA”), required significant design changes for group health plans in 2010 or 2011, some additional requirements must be implemented for 2012.  Please click here to read the Alert published by the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Client Service Group on September 7, 2011. 

IRS Establishes a Voluntary Classification Settlement Program

The IRS recently announced a new settlement program for employers with misclassified workers.  Under the new program, employers can get a significant reduction in their federal employment tax liability associated with past nonemployment treatment by agreeing to properly classify their workers for future tax period.  The announcement came on the heels of recent announcements that the IRS, Department of Labor and various state agencies are collaborating on examining worker misclassification issues.  To learn more about the new program, please click here to read the Alert published by the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Client Service Group on September 30, 2011.

Department of Labor Issues Final Rule Requiring Follow-On Contractors to Hire Their Predecessor’s Employees

The Department of Labor issued a final rule just before Labor Day that, in effect, will given certain employees now performing under Federal government service contracts employment for life or at least for as long as the government continues to contract for those services.  Although the rule does not take effect until the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council issues its complementary regulations, matters are sufficiently final that contractors should begin planning for how they are going to comply.  To learn more about this new regulation, click here to read the Alert published by the Government Contracts Team on September 8, 2011.

U.S. House Panel Hears Divergent Opinions on SRO Oversight of Investment Advisers

Fund managers and other investment advisers should be aware that Congress is now considering legislation that would significantly alter regulation of the nation’s registered investment advisers.  A key House subcommittee has heard widely divergent views on the proposed legislation entitled the “Investment Adviser Oversight Act of 2011.”  To learn more about the draft legislation, click here to read the Alert published by the White Collar Defense and Investigations Securities Litigation and Enforcement Client Service Groups on September 20, 2011.

New Patent Reform Bill Poised to Significantly Change U.S. Patent Law

On September 8, 2011, Congress approved the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011.  The Act materially alters a long history of patent law in the United States.   Among the provisions addressed by the Act are who is entitled to a patent (“first to file” versus “first to invent”) and who may file a “false marking” lawsuit.  To read more about how the Act alters patent law, please click here to read the Bulletin published by the Intellectual Property Client Service Group on September 12, 2011. 

FinCEN Issues Final Rule on Prepaid Access; Extends Compliance Date for Many Aspects of the Final Rule

New anti-money laundering regulations that directly impact retail business that issue or sell gift cards or other prepaid cards were issued by the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN),  The regulations require the collection and verification of customer information when certain prepaid cards are sold or reloaded.  To read an overview of the Final Rule, please click here for the Alert published by the Financial Institutions Client Service Group on September 6, 2011. The Final Rule was set to go into effect on September 27, but FinCEN announced that it has extended the compliance date for most aspects of the regulations.  For information on how the compliance dates changed, please click here to read the Alert published on September 12, 2011.

New Dual/Third Country National Rule Continues to Present Challenges

A new rule took effect in August which amended the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to include a new license exemption for the transfer of defense articles to dual/third country national employees of approved non-U.S. licensees under ITAR agreements.  To read about the new rule, please click here for International Regulatory Bulletin published September 28, 2011.

DDTC Updates its “Guidelines for Preparing Electronic Agreements” to Implement New Dual/Third Country National Rule

In August, DDTC updated its “Guidelines for Preparing Electronic Agreements” (the “Guidelines”) to reflect implementation of the new rule and provide guidance to exporters preparing ITAR agreements.  To learn more, please click here to read the International Regulatory Bulletin published September 28, 2011.

 Electronic Payment of Registration Fees

The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) issued an amendment to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that requires a change in the method of payment for registration fees.  Effective September 26, 2011, all registration fees must be paid electronically via Automated Clearing House.  To read about the amendment, please click here for the International Regulatory Bulletin published September 15, 2011.

French Working Time for Executives:  Lump-Sum Remuneration Agreements Based on a Fixed Number of Working Days Per Year (so-called Forfaits-Jours)

The legal duration of work for employees in France is 35 hours per week, meaning that any hours required to be worked above this limit would normally be considered overtime.  Executives are, however, most often not subject to this limit.  For an outline of how the French Labor Code distinguishes between three types of executives, please click here to read the September 2011 Briefing published by the Paris Labor & Employment Client Service Group.

 The Agency Workers Regulations 2010

UK’s new Agency Workers Regulations come into force on 1 October 2011.  The regulations are intended to give agency workers the same basic employment rights and conditions as permanent staff employed directly by the relevant company.  To learn about the new regulations, please click here for the September 2011 Briefing published by the London Labour and Employment Client Service Group.

China Announces Legal Changes That May Broaden Power to Investigate Bribery

In August the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China released the draft Criminal Procedure Law Amendment to the public for comment.  If passed, the amendment is expected to provide additional protection to the civil rights of accused parties.  However, critics say that the amendment would also provide authorities legal cover to utilize secret locations to detain subjects suspected of engaging in acts involving national security, terrorism, or other serious crimes which may include serious bribery.  To read about the amendment, please click here for the International Regulatory Bulletin published September 27, 2011.