Labor Department Issues New Rule for Independent Contractor Status

Posted in Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Labor Relations, Wage & Hour

With no clear guidance and different factors being given different weight by different courts, employers have struggled for years with whether workers can be properly classified as independent contractors, rather than employees, under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Now, the Department of Labor has issued a new rule  making clear what factors should be applied and how they should be weighted. The ultimate focus is on  whether a worker is economically dependent on the putative employer for work.

Whether the new rule will take effect in March as scheduled remains to be seen, as the Biden Administration has urged federal agencies to “consider” 60-day postponements new rules which have not yet become effective.

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Relief is Here Again! PPP2 Stimulus and Business Tax Benefits

Posted in Employee Benefits, Wage & Hour

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “CAA”), signed into law on December 27, 2020, is the second-largest federal stimulus package of 2020, following the CARES Act. The CAA provides $900 billion in COVID relief and reserves $284 billion for small businesses through a second round of Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) forgivable loans, or as some are calling it, PPP2. But relief for businesses does not end at PPP loans. The CAA also provides additional tax deductions and expands the Employee Retention Credit. The SBA published its Interim Final Rules on January 6 (click here to access the IFR rules), implementing the CAA. Like PPP round 1, the SBA will be publishing applications, guidance and FAQs in the coming days, but in the meantime, this article provides an overview of PPP2 and relevant benefits of the CAA.

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What Employers Can Expect From a Biden Presidency: Part III, the Winds of Change are Upon Us

Posted in Labor Relations, Wage & Hour, Workplace Safety & OSHA

With the certification of the Electoral College votes complete, Joe Biden will become President on January 20 and no doubt usher in sweeping changes. If you want to know what to expect, join us for a webinar on Tuesday, January 19 at noon Eastern. In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview:

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UPDATE: Payroll Tax Credits for Paid Leave Under the FFCRA Extended Through March 31, 2021

Posted in Employee Benefits, Medical & Other Leaves, Social Media, Uncategorized, Wage & Hour

The pandemic relief package enacted by Congress in late December briefly extended the available payroll tax credits for leave provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) through March 31, 2021. The relief package did not extend the requirement to provide paid leave, so after December 31, 2020, employers are not mandated to provide paid sick or family leave under the FFCRA. However, eligible employers that elect to provide leave may claim a payroll tax credit for leave wages paid through March 31. Eligible employers are businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees.

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Preparing for 2021: What New York Employers Can Expect in the New Year

Posted in Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Medical & Other Leaves, Wage & Hour

2021 is here, and with the new year comes changes for New York employers seeking to ensure full compliance with newly effective laws, or changes to the law, throughout the State. Employers are well-advised to review the changes for the new year, summarized below.

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Employers May Compel COVID-19 Vaccinations, But…

Posted in Employee Handbooks & Policies, Employment & Consulting Contracts, Employment Discrimination Harassment & Retaliation, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, Workplace Safety & OSHA

Employers may require employees in the workplace to get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to newly issued guidelines from the EEOC. But employers may not necessarily terminate an employee who refuses.

While the vaccine may still be months away for most Americans, employers should prepare now for the issues that will arise, including those relating to pre-vaccination screening, administering the vaccine, and handling employees who object on medical or religious grounds. The EEOC guidelines, appearing as a new Q&A Section K in its Technical Assistance bulletin on COVID-19 addresses these and other issues, along with applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), and more.

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Five New States Approve Marijuana Use, Leaving Employers Dazed and Confused

Posted in Employee Handbooks & Policies, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention

Voters around the country recently approved a number of ballot initiatives legalizing the use of marijuana for recreational and/or medical purposes, further complicating the patchwork of existing marijuana laws found throughout the country. The confusion is compounded by the fact that marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, thereby making it illegal (at the federal level) for an employee to use or possess marijuana for any reason. This dichotomy has always produced headaches for employers, but as new states continue to enact statutes with differing requirements relating to marijuana use and its impact in the workplace, employers must now be even more vigilant and learn the requirements of each state’s specific marijuana statutes in order to anticipate and prevent unnecessary legal claims.

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What California Employers Need to Know About The Emergency Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Regulations

Posted in Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Workplace Safety & OSHA

Nearly all California employers must take steps now to comply with the requirements imposed by the new slate of emergency regulations intended to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in California workplaces. These regulations, adopted by CAL/OSHA on November 30, 2020 are immediately effective. Here is what employers need to know now to protect their businesses and their employees.

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Just in Time for the Holidays, the EEOC Proposes Guidance on Religious Bias

Posted in Employee Handbooks & Policies, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Employment Discrimination Harassment & Retaliation

It seems that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is getting into the holiday spirit and addressing religious bias for the first time in twelve years. Last week, the EEOC proposed updated religious discrimination guidance for public comment. This guidance (clocking in at well over 100 pages) is in line with the agency’s goal to revamp its stance on religious discrimination and protections afforded to employers, especially those affiliated with a religious faith. For employers, the recent guidance provides reasons both to celebrate and gear up for a chilly winter.

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