January 2000, Vol. 123, No. 1
Labor month in review
Injuries and illnesses decline
Dental care benefits
The January Review
We begin the new decade—the "oughts" or the "ohs" or whatever—with a certain continuity. The annual summaries of legislative changes in the legal framework of the world of work are an established feature of this Review. As might be apt, however, at this inflection point in the calendar, there are new names on some of the by-lines and a report on a new structure and plan for the Federal-State cooperative labor market information system.
Richard R. Nelson is our most veteran contributor to the January issue. His summary of this year’s changes features a wide variety of changes across the States. The most common legislative topics were on wage issues. Nearly half of the States had bills introduced to raise minimum wages and minimum wages increased in nine States. Other topics that are emerging in the legislatures include family leave, child labor, employment discrimination, drug and alcohol testing, privacy, and regulating employment agencies and employee leasing companies.
Glenn Whittington returns for another go at summarizing changes in workers’ compensation legislation. One of the salient issues in workers’ compensation law in this year’s sessions was the definition and coverage allowed to "volunteer" workers including certain disaster relief workers, volunteer firefighters, and volunteeers assisting law enforcement agencies.
Robert Kenyon, Jr., makes his debut summarizing developments in unemployment insurance legislation. He reports that activity in this area was fairly light last year, addressing technical and administrative concerns such as privacy and conditions under which wage data can be released to third parties.
A new department, Program Reports, has been added as an occasional feature. In this issue, we chronicle the inception of a new oversight structure for the labor market information system and its goals for improvement. In another transition, "The Law at Work" column will be the last by Charles Muhl. Mr. Muhl is moving to Chicago to pursue his career at law.
In February of last year, 53 percent of workers holding contingent jobs would have preferred to have permanent jobs. However, a significant minority of contingent workers did prefer temporary work. Thirty-nine percent preferred to have a contingent arrangement, up slightly from 36 percent in the previous survey of contingent workers in February 1997.
Contingent workers are defined as those who do not have an explicit or implicit contract for long-term employment. The key factor used to determine if a worker’s job is contingent is whether the job is temporary or not expected to continue. Persons who do not expect to continue in their jobs for personal reasons such as retirement or returning to school are not considered contingent workers (provided that they would otherwise have the option of continuing in the job). Find out more in news release USDL 99–362, "Contingent and Alternative Employment Arrangements, February 1999."
Injuries and illness decline
In 1998, the incidence rate for injuries and illnesses in private industry workplaces was 6.7 cases per 100 full-time workers, down from 7.1 in 1997. The decline marked the sixth year in a row that the incidence rate fell. In 1998, the incidence rate for cases of on-the-job injuries and illnesses involving days away from work was 2.0 cases per 100 full-time workers, down slightly from 2.1 in 1997. The drop marked the eighth year in a row that this rate fell. Most cases of occupational injuries and illnesses in 1998 did not involve days away from work. Of the 5.9 million workplace injuries and illnesses last year, 1.7 million involved one or more days away from work. Find more information in news release USDL 99–358 "Workplace Injuries and Illnesses in 1998."
Dental care benefits
In 1997, about 59 percent of all full-time employees in medium and large private establishments were offered some type of dental care benefit from their employers. The percentage of full-time employees offered dental care benefits was higher for professional, technical, and related employees (64 percent) than it was for either clerical and sales employees (59 percent) or blue-collar and service employees (56 percent).
Among those with dental care benefits, 81 percent received care from traditional fee for service plans, 11 percent from preferred provider organizations, and 8 percent from health maintenance organizations. Irrespective of the type of plan under which employees receive dental care, the following procedures are covered in 98 percent or more of plans: exams, x-rays, surgery, fillings, periodontal care, endodontics, crowns, and prosthetics. For each of those procedures, more than three-quarters of those covered received a percentage of the usual, customary, and reasonable charge for the procedure as the benefit. Find out more in Bulletin 2517, Employee Benefits in Medium and Large Private Establishments, 1997. (PDF 804K)
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