April 4, 2016 will go down as a historic day in US history as New York signed into law a never-before-seen paid leave policy that allows up to 12 weeks of PAID time off for new parents or those who need to take care of family members with serious medical conditions. Since the United States is the only developed country that has no paid time off for new mothers, this is quite a huge undertaking for New York and the excitement surrounding the law is palpable. A mere three other states actually have paid leave policies with California and New Jersey offering six weeks and Rhode Island offering four. While the law will be implemented slowly, with various nuances, by 2021 all facets of the policy should be fully running. Employers should make sure they are educated about what the policy means, who qualifies and how to handle requests for leave to avoid unintended transgressions against a qualifying employee’s rights. While not perfect, the new law is a major step in the right direction towards economic and familial harmony. Good job, NY!
As the Department of Labor’s rule du jour progesses towards passage, many employers are rightfully concerned about the impacts the new “overtime rule” will have on their business. Some of the key points of this rule include: a salary threshold for exempt employees at $50,440 annually, currently $23,660 annually, annual increases to the salary threshold and the duties tests might now require managers to spend most of their on traditional managerial functions. Even a perfunctory review of this new rule points to the challenges employers can face with both the viability and implementation of same. As such, members of the Republican House and Senate have proposed a bill with the intention to prevent the rule from taking effect. “The Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act (S. 2707 and H.R. 4773) would:
- Nullify the proposed rule.
- Require the DOL to first conduct a comprehensive economic analysis on the impact of mandatory overtime expansion to small businesses, nonprofit organizations and public employers.
- Prohibit automatic increases in the salary threshold.
- Require that any future changes to the duties test must be subject to notice and comment.”
The major tenets of the bill as listed above seem to be reasonable while the impacts of the proposed rule are determined. The DOL hoped to pass the rule by the end of Spring 2016 but this new bill will likely prevent finalization, if any, until the end of 2016. Either way, employers should be following these proposed changes closely to be as prepared as possible.
The New Year in New York City brings with it some changes that many employers need to be prepared for. As of January 1, 2016, Local Law No. 53 also known as the “Commuter Benefits” law goes into effect. Passed in 2014 and drafted in accordance with federal regulations, the law requires for-profit or nonprofit employers with twenty (20) or more full-time, non-union employees to offer a commuter benefit program that grants the employee the option to use up to a $130 per month of pre-tax income for qualified transportation. Designed to benefit employers by reducing payroll taxes and benefit employees by lowering monthly expenses through the use of pre-tax income, employers can use a third-party to administer the program or can choose to do it in-house. In either scenario, and in order to avoid potential employer penalties for non-compliance, as well as the varying tax implications created by compliance, employers should discuss the new law with their legal and tax advisors.
It’s about that time of year where employers are encouraged to do a year-end review of certain policies and procedures that may impact their future business. New York City’s Paid Sick Leave is one such localized law that requires a second look, especially how compensable sick leave is calculated. Underthis law, employee’s accrue one (1) hour of paid sick leave for every thirty (30) hours worked, up to a maximum of forty (40) hours per year. When the new calendar year starts, employers that do not front load forty (40) hours, must carry over up to forty (40) hours of the unused sick leave. All of this monitoring and tracking presents special challenges for employers, whom should ensure that managers know how to handle sick leave properly, lest the employer be exposed to the risks associated with non-compliance.