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Federal DOL Proposes Changes/Clarifications to the Definition of "Regular Rate" under the FLSA

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The determination of the regular rate of pay for employees who are non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and, therefore, eligible for time-and-one-half overtime pay for all hours worked over forty (40) in a week is a crucial and sometimes complicated one for employers under current law.

Employee Paid Time Off to Vote Law Changes in New York

Monday, May 06, 2019

As part of the New York fiscal year 2020 budget announced April 1, 2019, Election Law Section 3-110 was immediately amended to allow workers to take up to three hours off of work, without loss of pay, in order to vote in any election.  In a significant change from the prior law, the employee need not establish insufficient time to vote during off hours in order to take advantage of voting leave (previously, most employees were not able to show insufficient off hour time). However, nothing in the law entitles employees to more time than needed to vote.

Supreme Court to Review LGBTQ Discrimination

Monday, April 29, 2019

Last week the Supreme Court accepted three cases that ask whether federal anti-discrimination laws protect LGBT people from job discrimination.  There is disagreement in lower Federal Courts regarding whether sexual orientation and gender identity are included in Title VII’s prohibition of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. 

EEOC Discrimination Charges Fall

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

In 2018, fewer discrimination charges were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission than in any other year in the last decade. In fact, 8,000 fewer charges were filed last year than in 2017. This may seem surprising, given the #MeToo movement, but there are a myriad of reasons why the numbers may be falling.

New York Draws Closer to Legalizing Marijuana: How Employers Should Prepare

Thursday, April 04, 2019

The trend to legalize marijuana continues.  Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced his intention for New York to be one of the next states to legalize marijuana.  While his initial timeline has met some resistance and will not coincide with the State’s annual budget, which was due April 1, it appears New York could legalize recreational marijuana in the very near future.  Governor Cuomo’s proposed legislation – Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act - would create an office of Cannabis Management to oversee cultivation, processing, distribution, sale and adult use of marijuana for recreational purposes. 

United States Department of Labor Issues New Opinion Letters - Part 3

Monday, March 25, 2019

The third opinion letter issued by the US Department of Labor on March 14 addressed a New York law that contradicted federal overtime laws. The opinion addresses employees who work for a New York real estate company as live-in janitors (“supers”) to maintain their rental buildings.  New York law exempts these workers from minimum wage and overtime law, while the Fair Labor Standards Act does not. The DOL said these workers are not exempt from federal minimum wage and overtime requirements because the federal law does not contain those exemptions. 

United States Department of Labor Issues New Opinion Letters - Part 2

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Another notable opinion from the U.S. Department of Labor letters issued on March 14 is that workers are not required to be paid for community service they perform through an employer program unless they are forced into volunteering. An employer submitted a question to the DOL asking if it had to compensate employees who are allowed to pick their own or employer sponsored volunteer activities.  The employer pays them for activities that occur during the work day or on the employer’s premises, but much of the volunteer time falls outside of working hours. 

United States Department of Labor Issues New Opinion Letters - Part 1

Friday, March 15, 2019

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued three opinion letters. This is the first of a series of blog posts addressing the letters.

Notably, the DOL clarified that employers cannot allow employees to take paid leave in lieu of FMLA leave.  As you know, the FMLA allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for family members or receive treatment for their own illnesses.

That Free Lunch May be Taxable

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

The IRS recently released Technical Advice Memorandum 201903017 (the TAM) providing guidance to IRS personnel as to whether the value of meals and snacks provided without charge by an employer to its employees constitutes taxable wages. 

The employer in the TAM provided free meals to all employees, contractors and guests.  No distinction was made as to the employee’s position, job duties, responsibilities or other circumstances.  Unlimited drinks and snacks were also provided to all employees, contractors and visitors in unrestricted snack areas. 

BREAKING NEWS: NYS DOL Not Implementing Call-In Pay Regulations

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Good news!  Last night, the New York State Department of Labor issued a statement that it would not pursue implementing the proposed call-in pay regulations we wrote about previously (click here for that blog post). This issue is likely headed to the New York State Legislature.

Governmental Affairs
08

Federal Legislative Action Alert

YOUR ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED!  Save Employer Provided Education Assistance! Please email or write your representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor the Employee Educational Assistance Act of 2012, H.R. 4137, introduced by Representatives Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Richard Neal (D-MA).  H.R. 4137 will make employer provided education assistance (Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code) a permanent provision.

Please Take Action:
Ask your Representative to co-sponsor the Employee Educational Assistance Act of 2012, H.R. 4137 using SHRM’s HRVoice program by following these steps:

1.    Log onto the SHRM Advocacy Action Center by clicking HERE

2.    Personalize your message with your own story

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

Background

Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code allows an employee to exclude from income up to $5,250 per year in assistance provided by their employer for any type of educational course at the associate, undergraduate and graduate level. Employers are not required to provide assistance under Section 127 to their employees. However, if an employer chooses to do so, the benefit must be offered to all employees on a nondiscriminatory basis that does not favor highly compensated employees. Congress has extended Section 127 nine times since it was created in 1978, most recently in 2010. Section 127 will expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts to renew it or make it permanent.

Issue

Providing tax-free educational assistance is an important tool for employers. Section 127 helps to build and maintain an increasingly skilled workforce, and positions the United States to remain competitive in the global economy. Almost 20 percent of Section 127 recipients are pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees. More than 35 percent of all degrees pursued by Section 127 beneficiaries are master’s degrees, and, according to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study of the most recent data, use of Section 127 benefits has doubled since 1994. Today, more than 1 million employees use Section 127 benefits.

Status

Over the past few years, there have been several attempts to make Section 127 benefits permanent. Attempts to extend or make permanent any tax reductions will be difficult in the current political environment due to concerns about the rising federal deficit. An extension of Section 127 would likely need to be part of a larger tax reform package. Until a larger package comes together, SHRM supports the Employee Educational Assistance Act of 2012, H.R. 4137.

SHRM Position

SHRM chairs the Coalition to Preserve Employer Provided Education Assistance, a broad-based collection of groups representing business, labor and education groups. SHRM strongly supports the permanent extension of Section 127 for associate, undergraduate and graduate degrees. We believe that providing tax-free educational assistance is an important tool for employers to attract the best employees, build a skilled workforce and position the U.S. economy to compete globally.

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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