For a second time this year, OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) has postponed the effective date for anti-retaliation provisions in handling employee complaints under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). A recent legal challenge in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas has resulted in the delay. The new date is set for December 1st, 2016.
Within the ACA, employers are forbidden to retaliate against workers who report alleged violations of the act’s health coverage reforms. Under the new OSHA provisions, certain employers will be required to do the following:
• Educate employees of their right to report work-related injury and illness without fear of retaliation
• Include a guide employees can reference for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses without discouraging them from reporting
• Retaliation against employees for reporting alleged fault is prohibited
Incentive programs pertaining to safety-related activities are allowed, however employers must be careful not to create programs deterring workers from reporting injuries or illnesses (i.e. rewarding employees for low reporting rates). Regarding automatic post-injury drug testing, unless employers have a reasonable suspicion and are following state or federal law, this can now be viewed as a retaliatory action.
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