Paid Sick Time and FMLA Expansion Law Passes

Posted in Medical & Other Leaves, Wage & Hour

Employers with fewer than 500 employees will be required to provide paid leave to certain employees impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and will receive a tax credit in return, under a new law approved by the Senate and signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020. These measures are set to take effect no later than April 2, 2020.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, first passed by the House last weekend, was modified in the final version. For employers, the most important provisions of the final version of the law remain Division C – Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, Division E – Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and Division G – Tax Credits for Paid Sick and Paid Family and Medical Leave.

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Rocky Mountain Employers: Brace for Sweeping Changes to Compensation and Minimum Wage Laws

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

Employers operating in the Rocky Mountain region need to pay close attention to the 2020 Administrative Order issued by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) mandating broad changes to employee compensation and rights. It is different than similar orders issued previously, and makes significant changes to wage and hour laws in Colorado. CDLE recently adopted the Colorado Overtime and Minimum Pay Standards Order #36 (COMPS Order #36), replacing Minimum Wage Order # 35. COMPS Order #36 is effective on March 16, 2020. Employers should note the changes required by COMPS Order #36, including the types of covered employees and employers, expansion of meal and rest breaks, and increases in minimum salary thresholds for employees exempt from minimum wage laws.

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New Sick Leave Entitlements for Quarantined NY Employees and More Coming

Posted in Employee Benefits, Medical & Other Leaves, Wage & Hour

Immediate pay and job protection for New Yorkers quarantined as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) , as well as comprehensive paid sick leave that will impact all employers within six months, will be enacted imminently into law, Governor Cuomo of New York has announced.

Originally designed as one bill, New York lawmakers and the Governor reached agreement on the quarantine and sick leave bills this week.

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Paid Sick Leave and Other Relief Coming for Employees Affected by COVID-19

Posted in Employee Benefits, Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Medical & Other Leaves, Workplace Safety & OSHA

Employers with fewer than 500 employees will be required to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for certain employees impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and will receive a tax credit in return under an emergency bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this weekend. The Senate is expected to consider the bill this week and President Trump has said he will sign it.

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IRS Issues Helpful Coronavirus-Related Guidance for Employers with High Deductible Health Plans

Posted in Employee Benefits

Benefit plan sponsors are responding to participant questions about the coronavirus/COVID-19. In particular, employers’ HR departments are fielding questions about whether their health plan will pay for any necessary testing and/or treatment. Both full-insured and self-funded plans are widely announcing plans to waive the cost of physician-ordered tests. But until now, there was one huge open question. Could participants in certain consumer-driven health plans actually take advantage of those financial offerings without adverse tax implications? That issue is created because the IRS has rigid requirements on High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) in order to allow participants to also contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA). In general, if an HSA participant has not met the required deductible, any non-preventive services cannot be discounted or offered for free. Absent any guidance from the IRS, therefore, employers with multiple health plan options would have been able to offer free tests to some employees but not to others.

Fortunately for employers and employees alike, on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the IRS issued Notice 2020-15, confirming that a health plan will not fail to satisfy the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) requirements, and a participant will not be disqualified from contributing to a Health Savings Account (HSA), simply because the health plan provides health benefits associated with testing for and treatment of COVID-19 without a deductible, or with a deductible below the minimum statutory deductible required for an HDHP.

Declaration of COVID-19 as a Pandemic Changes Rules for Employers

Posted in Employment Counseling & Workplace Claims Prevention, Employment Discrimination Harassment & Retaliation, Medical & Other Leaves, Workplace Safety & OSHA

The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020 finally acknowledged that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a pandemic. That designation changes the rules for employers.

The standard for justifying disability-related inquiries and medical examinations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is now easier to meet, based on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Guidance for Pandemic Preparedness from 2009. That guidance addresses some – but not all — of the current dilemmas faced by employers. Continue Reading

Deadline Rapidly Approaching To Register Online for H-1B Visa Lottery

Posted in Immigration Planning & Compliance

The rush is on: U.S. employers looking to hire foreign professionals through H-1B sponsorship must register online for the annual lottery by noon (12:00 pm) EST on March 20, 2020. Employers petitioning for cap-subject H-1B hopefuls are required to register electronically through myUSCIS and pay a $10 registration fee to be entered in the yearly draw. The H-1B online registration process is an entirely new procedure that is being rolled out by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the first time this year. While employers may try to reduce costs for visa expenses by submitting an H-1B registration without the assistance of an attorney, Akerman recommends retaining experienced immigration counsel to facilitate the electronic H-1B registration process so as to avoid unintended mishaps and intervene in the event that a software glitch occurs. Employers that do not submit a proper electronic H-1B registration by March 20 will not be eligible to file an H-1B visa petition with USCIS during the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 H-1B cap season.

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NLRB Issues Joint Employer Final Rule

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

Right on the heels of the Department of Labor (DOL) issuing a new joint employer liability test under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued its own employer-friendly final rule for determining joint employer liability under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The NLRB’s final rule is scheduled to become effective April 27, 2020.

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Employers Receive Guidance in DOL Final Joint Employer Rule

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

Effective March 16, 2020, employers will be able to use a four-factor balancing test in determining joint employment status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), based on the new final rule adopted by the Department of Labor (DOL).

The joint employer final rule is the first restatement of the DOL’s joint employer regulations in more than 50 years, and marks a material change to the trend set in motion by the Obama administration to broaden the joint employer doctrine. Employers and management-side employment attorneys have expressed approval, agreeing that the four-factor test expressed in the final rule, which is based on a test adopted in one form or another by several federal appellate courts, is a practical and useful tool that balances competing interests.

Note that the final rule applies only to the FLSA. Whether a person or entity is a joint employer under other federal laws such as the National Labor Relations Act or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is not addressed. Guidance on joint employer status from the National Labor Relations Board was just issued (watch for our upcoming post); guidance from EEOC is expected later this year.

Below are the highlights of the DOL final rule and steps for employers to consider moving forward.

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