An employee requests the use of sick leave, vacation, or PTO to care for his ill mother. Your first instinct (and the 100% correct one) is to set that FMLA process in motion. But what if your employee wants to “save up” FMLA for scheduled surgery later in the year, or the expected birth of a child in a couple of months? What do you do if your employee says, “thanks, but no thanks” to FMLA?
On December 14, 2018, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed two laws which modified the current minimum wage and paid sick leave legislation. The changes are due to take effect on April 1, 2019. The new law, “Paid Medical Leave Act”, will replace the current “Earned Sick Time Act,” which was only recently passed. Under the new law there are several changes that will impact many businesses. For starters, this applies to all businesses with 50 or more employees.
Workplace violence is a disturbing, but real issue facing employers nationwide. News stories remind us of this reality with examples such as a recent workplace shooting in Illinois, in which a disgruntled employee shot several coworkers and police officers after learning that his employment was terminated. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that about two million workers report workplace violence every year. OSHA also states that employers must provide a place of employment “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” So what should employers do about this growing concern?
On Thursday March 7, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced the proposal of a new overtime rule. According to the DOL press release, this rule would now make over 1 million American workers eligible for overtime. The new proposal would raise the salary threshold starting on January 1, 2020 to $679 per week, or roughly $35,308 annually. Currently, the salary threshold is at $455 per week or roughly $23,660 annually. The current salary threshold has been in place since 2004.
In a tight labor market where attracting top talent has become increasingly difficult, offering employee’s perks other than a higher salary could help an applicant considering multiple offers accept your offer instead of others. One of the perks that some companies have considered offering is unlimited paid time off (PTO) programs. Before you write off the idea as wackadoo, hear me out.
Picture this scenario: your employee, a delivery driver, makes regular stops at a production facility. The facility is not owned by your company, and your company does not employ any of the production facility workers. While at the facility, your driver is subjected to unwanted comments and touching by an employee of the facility. Your employee complains, and your HR Manager states they’ll work with management at the production facility to handle it. Your employee later returns to the facility, and the harassment continues. Your employee resigns as a result of the ongoing harassment.
On Monday February 18, 2019, the New York City Commission on Human Rights released legal guidance on our protections and enforcement actions against racial discrimination on the basis natural hair and hairstyles. These guidelines will now consider the targeting of people based on their hairstyle at work, school, or in public places racial discrimination.
To our legal clients, and followers via our Weekly Legal Brief, social media posts, and free website of forms, FAQ’s, etc. at www.myhrcounselcompliance.com – you no doubt have seen my reactions to the many non-legal “compliance” solutions in the market claiming to provide employers with equivalent legal information and protection for the HR/employment issues. We’ve even observed, since our launch in 2015, changes in explanations of these non-legal solutions offerings, and claims of what they can do for employers.
If one of your News Year’s resolutions was to go on a “news diet”, then maybe you are one of the few lucky ones who is unaware that the partial government shutdown over border wall funding that started on December 21, 2018, continues, and seems poised to do so for the near future. While you may be thanking your lucky stars that you are not one of furloughed or unpaid federal employees, you may also be wondering how this government shutdown could impact your company. Aside from the litany of personal effects such as the disaster that has befallen the national parks and the possibility that income tax refund check processing will be delayed, there are some impacts that private employers may feel.
The federal government of Canada has announced that as of October 17, 2018, Canadians will be able to possess and consume recreational marijuana under the Cannabis Act. Employers based in Canada or with workers in Canada should begin preparing for the impact recreational marijuana will have on their workplaces.
Currently, medical marijuana is legal across Canada. Employees are generally not allowed to work while impaired by marijuana. But that rule is subject to reasonable accommodation requirements as with other prescription medications for an employee’s illness, injury, or disability. There are also accommodation restrictions for employees who work in safety-sensitive positions.
For recreational marijuana, workers who use cannabis for non-medical purposes will not be allowed to do so at their workplaces. Employers can require employees to report to work unimpaired and remain sober while working. Employees can also face legal penalties for violating the laws covering recreational marijuana.
Ahead of the full legalization date, Canadian employers should begin looking into updating their policies to address both medical and recreational marijuana.
Last year, the State of Washington passed the new Paid Family Medical Leave law (PFML). The law covers all private employers in Washington.
During a year, eligible employees may be entitled to job-protected paid leave as follows:
· 12 weeks of family or medical leave
· 14 weeks of family or medical leave if the employee experiences a pregnancy-related serious health condition that results in incapacity
· 16 week of combined family and medical leave
· 18 weeks of combined family and medical leave if the employee experiences a pregnancy-related serious health condition that results in incapacity
The law will be funded by both employers and employees paying into the paid leave program through payroll deductions. The total premium is 0.4% of an employee’s wages, to which both the employer and the employee must contribute. (Small employers (less than 50 employees) are not required to pay the employer portion of the premiums.) Employers will be responsible for reporting wages and hours to the state, and for remitting all premiums collected to the state.
Payroll deductions will begin on January 1, 2019. Employees will be able to begin using benefits on January 1, 2020.
Employers can also choose to provide a voluntary paid family medical leave plan instead of using the state plan. The employer must submit an application for the voluntary plan to the state, and the state must give approval. A voluntary plan must provide employees with at least the same amount of leave for the same reasons as a state PMFL plan, and must provide the same or better monetary benefits. The employees’ share of the premium can’t be more than what it would be for the state PFML plan.
With the deadline to begin payroll deductions on the horizon, employers should start preparing now. Steps to consider include:
· Checking with your payroll department or payroll provider to make sure they will begin making payroll deductions in January 2019
· Before the end of 2018, determining how and when to communicate the upcoming new payroll deduction to employees
· Revising employee handbooks in later 2019 to have updated leave policies available for January 2020
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions regarding Washington’s new Paid Family Medical Leave law.