Question: My family member had been working between 30 and 35 hours per week, but without any benefits, including health insurance. My family member got sick, ended up in the emergency room and was encouraged to apply with the state’s Quest insurance program. As a part of that process, the employer had to verify employment status, hours worked, etc. But when the employer got the form, he cut my family member’s work hours to under 20 hours per week. What is the law? What can we do?
Answer: Under the Hawaii Prepaid Health Act, employers must provide health insurance if an employee works 20 hours or more per week.
Without knowing the details of the situation, you are advised to contact the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ Disability Compensation Division at 586-9220.
Under Hawaii law, employers are required to register and retain Prepaid Health Coverage, Temporary Disability Insurance and Workers’ Compensation Insurance, spokesman Ryan Markham said.
Question: I received a letter from the United States Deputy Sheriffs Association business processing center in New Hampshire asking for a donation. They say the money also will be for the Honolulu area. Is that true?
Answer: A good starting point to check on charities is the state Attorney General’s website, hawaii.gov/ag/charities. Specifically, go to ag.ehawaii.gov/charity/search.html.
Both the United States Deputy Sheriff’s Association and its professional solicitor, Community Support, are registered to solicit in Hawaii.
Between July 1, 2009, and June 30, the group reported raising $686 from Hawaii donors using Community Support, said Hugh Jones, supervising deputy attorney general for the Tax Division.
But only about $103, or 15 percent, went to the association.
"This does not include contributions from Hawaii donors that may have resulted from direct mailings from the organization," Jones said.
Nationally the association reported raising $209,848 through Community Support but receiving only 14.9 percent, or $31,477. It’s not known whether any funds were disbursed in Hawaii.
Charity Navigator, a charity watchdog/rating service, reported the association spends 73 percent of revenues on fundraising; see hsblinks.com/2j4.
Another good resource for checking out a business or charity is the Better Business Bureau: hawaii.bbb.org or call 536-6956. Here is its report on the association: hsblinks.com/2j2.
In 2007, Hawaii’s BBB said it received a complaint about a professional fundraiser soliciting funds for a number of charities, including the deputy sheriffs association.
"People often respond kindly to donation requests from police, fire and other public safety groups, and reports to BBB show that questionable fundraisers often take advantage of that generosity," the BBB said. For tips on donating to such charities and recognizing the ones to avoid, go to hawaii.bbb.org/Police-Firefighter-Charities.
Question: I have received four phone calls from various individuals claiming to be U.S. Census workers and asking for information. Am I being too paranoid about giving information over the phone?
Answer: If you have any questions or doubts about the legitimacy of the calls, call the Census Bureau office in Honolulu at 535-0900. If possible, get the person’s name and badge number.
Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail email@example.com.