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Government Shutdown Continues to Affect Employers

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

As the government shutdown persists, private employers continue to be affected.  As we discussed earlier this month, E-Verify remains shut down.  Employers must continue to manually verify eligibility through the use of I-9 forms.  In addition, the EEOC is mostly shut down, other than a relatively small number of employees still in place to receive new charges so potential charging parties don’t miss the statute of limitations.  Federal courts remain open, but cases involving the federal government are stayed and court staff is reduced. The US Small Business Association is also on furlough

Federal Government Shutdown Fallout: How Should Employers Who Use E-Verify Handle The System Being Down

Monday, January 07, 2019

Employers who use E-Verify to comply with their I-9 obligations have not had access to the system since December 22, 2018.  Crucially, however, those I-9 obligations do not cease just because the E-Verify system is down.  Thus, employers are advised to carefully examine new employees’ I-9 documents and complete I-9 sections 1 (by first day) and 2 (by third day) now, and then comply with the E-Verify 3-Day Rule as directed by the Division of Homeland Security (DHS) E-Verify website once it is back online. 

Cuomo Vetoes Addition of Bereavement Leave to Paid Family Leave

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Governor Cuomo vetoed the bill we described in our last post that would have added bereavement leave to the list of acceptable reasons to take NY Paid Family Leave.  Cuomo indicated that he generally supports increased bereavement leave but felt that the bill, as written, would lead to an “extreme expansion” of Paid Family Leave.  Cuomo argued the bill would necessitate an increase in employee contributions, and felt the financial burden of increased contributions might be too much for some low-wage and middle-class workers. 

Bereavement Leave Could Soon Be Additional Basis for Paid Family Leave

Friday, December 21, 2018

In June, we wrote about the New York State Legislature passing legislation that would add bereavement to the list of reasons employees can take Paid Family Leave.  That legislation reached Governor Cuomo’s desk yesterday and is awaiting approval.  He has ten days total to approve or veto the legislation. 

Many businesses oppose the additional bases upon which employees can take Paid Family Leave, arguing it can amount to an undue burden on employers.  We will post an update once Governor Cuomo makes his decision. 

NLRB Extends Comment Period for Joint Employer Rule

Monday, December 17, 2018

Last week, the NLRB extended it’s deadline to January 13, 2019,  for public comment on its’ proposed joint employer rule.  The proposal dials back the Obama-era rule that made it easier for employees to establish a joint employer relationship between two or more employers.  We strongly encourage employers that use staffing agencies or temporary employees, franchisors or franchisees, and those that use independent contractors to submit comments by the deadline. 

THE WRONG WAY TO ATTEMPT TO AVOID SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS

Monday, December 10, 2018

As a natural reaction to the media coverage of the “me too” movement and the New York State anti-sexual regulations it spawned, discussion of the issue may well be at an all-time high. To the extent these discussions are focused on best practices to prevent sexual harassment and thereby avoid sexual harassment claims, they will generally be a great benefit to employers.

New Federal Overtime Rules Expected in 2019

Monday, November 26, 2018

We all remember the planned 2016 changes to federal overtime laws.  Employers put a lot of time into ensuring they were prepared and their employees were properly classified before the changes were halted by a judge in late 2016.

New York Expands Paid Family Leave

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Living Donor Protection Act.  The law protects living organ donors from discrimination based on their status as an organ donor. It also clarifies that New York Paid Family Leave will cover leave for transplant preparation and recovery from surgery for organ and tissue donation. 

New York Paid Family Leave appears to be expanding in its scope. As always, reach out to employment counsel with any questions you have on NYPFL.

NEW NLRB POLICY TO AID MEMBERS SEEKING TO BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THEIR UNIONS

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Labor union members have been forced for many years to prove bad faith interest when seeking to make claims against their own unions for failure to represent them properly.  That has now changed based on an October 24, 2018 Memorandum from General Counsel, Peter Robb (Trump appointee) of the National Labor Relations Boards (NLRB – the federal labor law enforcement agency).  Claims of negligence against unions will now be easier because the union will be presumptively liable if workers’ grievances are not properly processed. 

Federal Government Changes Position on Protection for Transgender Workers

Monday, October 29, 2018

Last week, the Department of Justice submitted a brief to the United States Supreme Court arguing that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against transgender employees. The DOJ argued that the protection against “sex” discrimination does not apply to gender identity.  Importantly, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has not changed its position accordingly, and therefore the EEOC still considers transgender employees to be protected from discrimination. 

Governmental Affairs
31

Federal Legislative Action Alert

YOUR ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED!  Please email 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, please write to him/her using SHRM’s HRVoice program, follow these steps:

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

2.    Please personalize your message with your own story

3.    Be sure to include your complete home mailing address.

 

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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