Twas the night before Christmas
With a whole bunch of laws
A new COBRA was stirring,
with a health bill (and flaws?)

Congress sure has been busy the last few days. This Christmas Eve morning, the Senate passed a landmark health care bill.  No doubt, it will continue to be tweaked and modified as the House and Senate seek to reconcile their respective bills. 

I don’t think you will find anyone who believes it is perfect and without flaws. But the passage today ensures that employers are going to have some new work cut out for them in 2010 as the provisions of the bill start getting implemented.  I will recap the provisions affecting employers once it becomes a little clearer in the reconciliation process.

Until then, employers can (and should) focus on the COBRA subsidy extension that I’ve been discussing the past week.  The Department of Labor has just updated their website to include a new "fact sheet" on the bill. 

According to an e-mail distributed by the DOL, "Updated FAQs and other information will be posted next week."  You can sign up to receive that information at the COBRA page of the DOL. 

And on top of all that, do not overlook the new prohibitions of mandatory arbitration for defense contract employees. (H/T LawMemo) that were contained in the same defense bill that was signed by the President earlier this week. That measure requires major defense contractors and subcontractors to agree not to enter into or enforce agreements with employees or subcontractors that require arbitration of:

any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.

Got it?

So, with that, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and attach a new (but old) favorite Christmas tune. Happy holidays.