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Expected 2019 PFL Developments

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

As New York State employers continue to manage their first year of paid family leave (PFL) benefits available to employees in 2018 (8 weeks maximum), comments and predictions about what the Legislature might do for 2019 have emerged.  As expected, we have heard that the disability insurers who pay out the PFL benefits to eligible employees are indicating that the current amount withheld from employees’ pay to cover PFL benefits is insufficient. 

New Anti-Harassment Provisions for Employers

Thursday, April 26, 2018

This month, Governor Cuomo signed a new anti-harassment law, and it contains provisions for private and public employers related to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Effectively immediately, employees are protected from harassment not only by other employees, but also “non-employees,” which can include vendors, consultants, contractors, and others providing services pursuant to a contract. 

Legislators Seek to Curb After-Hours Work

Monday, April 09, 2018

As reported recently by the Associated Press, a New York City Council member, perhaps influenced by a recent French law, has proposed legislation to allow some employees the right to ignore after-hours communications from employers. The proposal would apply to NYC employers with 10 or more employees, and would prohibit them from requiring employees to respond to or act on after-hours telephone calls, texts, emails etc. that are not emergencies, or discipline them for failing to do so.  It would not bar employers from sending such emails, and employees could respond if they so choose.

PFL Deductions Regulation Clarified

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A new regulation clarifies how deductions can be made from employee paychecks to fund New York’s Paid Family Leave program. 

Until this month, the general understanding was that a maximum of 0.126% of New York State Average Weekly Wage paycheck could be deducted from employees’ weekly wages.  That meant any deductions were capped at $1.65 a week.

Proposed Legislation: The Sunlight in Workplace Harassment Act

Monday, March 19, 2018

In another attempt to stem sexual harassment in the workplace, legislation proposed in both the House and the Senate at the end of last month would require publicly traded companies to report information related to harassment or discrimination settlements and complaints in their SEC filings.  So far the measure lacks bipartisan support, but this latest proposed legislation is further evidence that workplace harassment and discrimination has lawmakers’ attention and will for a long time to come. 

Second Circuit Finds Sexual Orientation Discrimination Barred Under Title VII

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Discrimination on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation has long been illegal under the New York Human Rights Law, but not under federal Title VII.  However, that all changed in February 2018 when the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed its prior decisions and found that Title VII does bar sexual orientation. 

Attorneys General Band Together to Prohibit Mandatory Arbitration

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Earlier this month, 56 attorneys general of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands implored Congress in a letter to prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses of workplace sexual harassment claims and allow victims to have their day in court.  The letter also frowned upon the secrecy requirements of arbitration clauses, which “disserve the public interest by keeping both the harassment complaints and any settlements confidential.” 

When an "Owner", "Member" or "Partner" is No Such Thing

Friday, February 09, 2018

The state and federal discrimination laws prohibiting unequal treatment based on protected categories, such as age, race, sex etc., apply only to employees, and thus not to owners, members or partners of a business. However, in several cases across the country involving law firms, this precept has become much more complicated as courts have begun to consider what type of owner or partner a person is before deciding whether he/she should be covered by the broad definition of employee within the discrimination laws.

DOL Issues New Guidelines for Unpaid Internships

Monday, January 29, 2018

Recently, we’ve been warning employers that in order to have a legally compliant unpaid internship available, certain specific conditions had to be met.  If those conditions were not met, employers ran the risk of facing liability for unpaid wages for someone they classified as an unpaid intern.  The factors that have been in place until this month are as follows:

DOL Reissues Opinion Letters

Monday, January 15, 2018

In another pro-business move from the Trump Administration, the United States Department of Labor announced last summer that it would resume issuing opinion letters offering interpretive guidance under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a practice that had been suspended during the Obama administration. 

Governmental Affairs
03

Federal Legislative Action Alert

YOUR ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED!  Please CALL your representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor the Neal/Gerlach House Concurrent Resolution!  Representatives Richard Neal (D-MA) and Jim Gerlach (R-PA) will introduce a bi-partisan House Concurrent Resolution the week of February 4, 2012, that highlights the important role employer-sponsored retirement plans play in helping Americans save and plan for retirement. To date, SHRM has assisted in garnering 56 co-sponsors! Click HERE to see if your member has co-sponsored the resolution.

Please Take This Action:
If your representative has not yet co-sponsored this House Concurrent Resolution, please CALL him/her using SHRM’s HRVoice program by following these steps:

1.    Log onto the alert on the SHRM Advocacy Action Center by visiting HERE

2.    Please read the instructions on the page and enter your ZIP-Code to be matched to your member of the US House and her/his DC office phone number (you may be asked to enter your full home address if your ZIP-Code is located in multiple congressional districts)

3.    Use the talking points provided as a basis for personalizing your call with your own story

4.    Please inform the staffer answering the phone of your reason for calling and your personal story (you do not have to ask for a specific staff person or position)

5.    Please be certain to complete the feedback area at the bottom of the talking points page after completing your call, then click the “submit” button.

 

Background

This summer, President Obama signed into law legislation that creates a bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Joint Select Committee on deficit reduction. The committee, known as the “Super Committee,” is charged with reducing the federal debt by at least $1.5 trillion during the next 10 years by looking at current spending and tax code policies.  Because of their tax-deferred status, employer-provided benefits such as retirement and health care plans may come under scrutiny by the Super Committee.

Issue

Employer-provided retirement plans are a key component of our nation’s retirement system and produce significant retirement benefits for America’s working families. Together with Social Security and individual savings, employer-provided retirement plans produce significant retirement benefits for America’s working families.  There are approximately 670,000 private-sector defined contribution plans covering 67 million participants and over 48,000 private-sector defined benefit plans covering 19 million participants.

Outlook

Employer-sponsored health care and retirement benefits, because of their tax-deferred status, create the largest annual loss in revenue to the federal treasury.  As a result, it is anticipated that public policy efforts to reform the tax code and bring down the federal deficit will involve an examination of employer-sponsored benefits, including retirement plans, health care benefits and educational assistance programs. Given the large loss of revenue to the U.S. Treasury, employer-sponsored pension plans are an attractive revenue-raising target for Congress.

SHRM Position

SHRM believes that a comprehensive and flexible benefits package is an essential tool in recruiting and retaining talented employees. Every American employee should be provided the opportunity to save for retirement. The government should facilitate and encourage voluntary employer-sponsored plans, as well as individual savings through consistent tax incentives and simplified regulations.

SHRM supports the House Concurrent Resolution to be introduced by Rep. Neal and Rep. Gerlach.  The resolution declares the benefits and importance of employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Legislation

The House Concurrent Resolution has not yet been introduced, and therefore, has yet to be assigned a number. However, the draft legislation has been sent to every member of the House of Representatives.  Please ask your Representative to co-sponsor this measure prior to introduction! This measure states many important facts, most importantly:

  • The current tax incentives for retirement savings provide important benefits to Americans to help plan for a financially secure retirement;
  • There are approximately 670,000 private-sector defined contribution plans covering 67 million participants and over 48,000 private-sector defined benefit plans covering 19 million participants;
  • $4.7 trillion is held in 401(k), 403(b), 457 and similar defined contribution plans, $2.3 trillion is held in private defined benefit plans, and another $4.9 trillion is held in Individual Retirement Accounts, largely consisting of funds rolled over from employer-based retirement plans;
  • During 2000 through 2009, employers contributed almost $3.5 trillion to public and private retirement plans;
  • Tax incentives are an important impetus for individuals to save and plan for retirement and for employers to offer plans in a voluntary system.

Should you have any questions regarding this resolution, please contact Kathleen Coulombe, SHRM’s Senior Associate, Government Relations at kathleen.coulombe@shrm.org.

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