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FMLA “Marriage Penalty” May be Going Away

Friday, November 15, 2019

A new Senate bill proposes removing the restriction on married co-workers’ ability to take time off to care for newborn or adopted children, parents, or military family members under the FMLA.  The FMLA provides job protected, unpaid leave for employees for certain purposes, such as the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a sick family member.   Employees may take up to 12 weeks of leave during a one-year period.  Currently however, there is statutory language that only allows spouses to take a total of 12 combined weeks of leave.

Federal DOL Issues Proposed Rule Allowing Inclusion of Bonus Pay in Overtime Calculation for Fluctuating Workweek Half-Time Overtime Employees

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The fluctuating workweek half-time overtime option has been available for many years under federal law as a way for employers to reduce their overtime costs for employees who work different hours each week. The option requires that the employee be paid a fixed minimum amount weekly regardless of the number of hours worked. Then, if that number of worked exceeds 40, the employer may pay overtime on a half-time of the regular rate of pay basis (determined each week overtime is worked).

NY’s New Law Affecting Domestic Violence Victims Takes Effect in November

Friday, October 25, 2019

NY passed a new law this year that applies to employees that are victims of domestic violence.  This law requires employers to provide victims reasonable time off from work to seek medical attention for himself or herself for the injuries caused by domestic violence, to receive services from a domestic violence shelter or program or a rape crisis center, to obtain psychological counseling, to participate in safety planning or other activities to increase the victim’s safety in the future, to receive legal services, assist in the prosecution of the perpetrator, or to appear in court in rela

U.S. Supreme Court Argument on 10/8/19 Regarding LGBTQ Discrimination Coverage Under Title VII

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Observers noted a sharp divide among the United States Supreme Court Justices during oral argument of three cases before them on October 8, 2019. At issue before the Court was whether the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of “sex” in federal Title VII includes protection from discrimination for the LGBTQ community.

New Salary Levels for Federal Overtime Exemption Announced

Monday, September 30, 2019

The federal government has announced the new salary requirements for employees to be exempt from overtime pay under federal law.  The new salary threshold is $35,568 annually or $684 weekly.

Are Changes to Gig Worker Classifications Coming?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Historically, gig workers (think Uber drivers, InstaCart, Doordash) have been classified as independent contractors, allowing companies to avoid having to pay benefits or minimum wage and overtime.  This may change sooner than you think.  Just last week, California got one step closer to making it harder for companies to classify these individuals as independent contractors.  While the bill still must be signed into law, experts believe that this is inevitable.  New York Gov.

Federal DOL Set to Publish a Proposed Rule Regarding Fluctuating Workweek Pay

Friday, September 06, 2019

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers who agree with employees who work a fluctuating number of hours each week to pay them a base salary regardless of the number of hours worked, are then able to pay those employees half-time for their overtime hours.  This somewhat unknown, and not often used, structure generally saves employers money and gives employees the certainty of the salary during weeks working less than 40 hours.

PFL 2020 Rates Announced

Friday, September 06, 2019

The New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) Superintendent revealed the new Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) benefit and employee contribution rates on Friday August 30. By law, those on PFL will receive up to 60% of the New York State average weekly wage (which the DFS set at $1,401.17 for 2020), for the up-to-10 weeks of PFL taken during the year. Accordingly, most employees who take PFL in 2020 will receive $840.70 per week, up about $100 from 2019, and it will be interesting to see if more employees seek to take it.

Expanded NY Anti-Harassment Legislation Has Become Law

Friday, August 30, 2019

On June 25, we wrote about new anti-harassment legislation that we expected Governor Cuomo to sign into law.  On August 12, he did, in fact, sign that legislation and expanded the definition of what is considered legally actionable harassment in the workplace.  The traditional standard that harassment must be “severe and pervasive” will no longer apply.  Now, a complainant must show that the conduct in question rises above the level of “petty slights and trivial inconveniences.” 

 

Additional changes are:

NY Passes New Discrimination Laws

Friday, August 23, 2019

Continuing with its’ busy employment legislation season, New York has amended the Human Rights Law to prohibit discrimination based on religious attire, clothing and facial hair.  The law becomes effective on October 8, 2019.   The law already prohibited employers from treating applicants or employees differently because of their religion, but the amendment makes clear that the definition of religion includes bias against any employee’s religious clothing, facial hair or attire.

Governmental Affairs
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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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