Business Necessity of COVID Testing No Longer Presumed  

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took the position that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standard for conducting medical examinations (job-related and consistent with business necessity) was always met for COVID-19 viral screening testing. On July 12, 2022, the EEOC updated its position in light of the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now employers are required to "assess whether current pandemic circumstances and individual workplace circumstances justify viral screening testing." 

The EEOC made it clear that this new update is not a pronouncement on whether "testing is or is not warranted." Instead, the new update allows employers to make their own assessments, given the evolving nature of the pandemic, to determine whether testing is consistent with the requirements of the ADA. 

Employers may want to consider examining any mandatory screening testing program to determine whether it is consistent with business necessity. In addition, employers may want to continue to monitor the ever-changing guidance from the CDC, as well as state and local health departments, when reviewing their COVID-19 screening and response protocols.

 

New Requirements under the PA Minimum Wage Act  

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has implemented new regulations under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (PMWA) that go into effect on August 5, 2022. The regulations make a number of important changes for employees who receive tips or service charges, as well as to how regular and overtime rates are calculated for non-exempt salaried employees. The new regulations also mean that federal and Pennsylvania wage laws will differ regarding non-tipped duties, tip credit amounts, and how a tipped employee is defined. Click here to read more from Jackson Lewis. 

Pennsylvania has released an updated Minimum Wage Law poster reflecting these changes.

 

Michigan Court Stays Ruling On Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave  

There has been some confusion regarding the recent court rulings on Michigan’s sick leave and minimum wages laws. The current legal state of the matter is that a judge has delayed any changes from the court, stemming from a July 19, 2022 ruling, that will affect the state’s minimum wage or paid sick time laws. This delay will likely last until at least February 19, 2023. 

If the court’s decision from July 19, 2022 - currently on hold until next February - ultimately goes into effect, Michigan employers will need to be prepared to adjust their minimum wage to $12 per hour and potentially adjust their paid sick leave plans, as well. Small employers who are currently exempt from Michigan paid sick leave would be required to provide this benefit under the ruling. Additional information on the potential impact of this July 19 decision can be found here, courtesy of Rhoades McKee. 

Adams Keegan will provide updates on this issue as they become available.

 

Accommodations in the Workplace  

Employers often receive accommodation requests from employees relating to religious or medical needs, and companies need to be mindful of the legal obligations triggered by these requests. For some practical guidance on managing the interactive process required under federal - and some state - laws, please read our latest article, Medical and Religious Accommodations in the Workplace, available on our website under the News and Resources tab.

 

Minimum Wage Updates

State and local level changes to the minimum wage are scheduled to occur throughout 2022. Some notable jurisdictions, such as Washington DCNevada & Oregon, have rate changes that occur in July. For quick reference, Littler Mendelson has created a helpful chart that comprehensively addresses these wage updates nationwide. 

If you have any employees currently earning less than the new minimum wage in states or municipalities where the minimum wage is changing, please make sure you log into Efficenter and update these employees’ pay rates to properly reflect the new required minimum wageClients can easily identify the pay rates for their employees by running the Employee Report under the Efficenter Reports tab, and can make rate updates on the affected employees’ Pay Rate/Position tabs. Also note that the specific jurisdictions listed above have new wage posters hyperlinked, and these posters should be displayed in the workplace.

 

Paid Sick Leave Updates

New Mexico now requires private employers to provide up to 64 paid sick leave hours to their employees, including part-time and seasonal workers, each year. Employees may accrue a minimum of one hour of earned sick leave for every 30 hours worked, or an employer may instead elect to frontload employees with the full 64 hours of earned sick leave for an upcoming accrual year. 

New Mexico requires employers to provide a Notice of Employee Rights to all employees, as well as post the Notice in the workplace. If you have any questions or need to discuss creating a sick plan for your New Mexico employees, please contact hrops@adamskeegan.com for assistance. 

Connecticut has a new notice requirement regarding their recently-expanded state FMLA program. The state has provided a template notice that employers may use for this purpose. To satisfy the notice requirement, CT employers may add this language to their existing handbooks, email each employee with the notice, or post the notice on their company intranet. Click here for additional details regarding the expanded law and notice provisions, courtesy of Day Pitney. As always, feel free to contact us with any questions. 

 

ERTC Deadlines to File Form 941-X

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is a program created by Congress that helps employers maintain their workforces as they confront COVID-related restrictions that have negatively affected their businesses. The ERTC is a refundable tax credit that eligible businesses can claim on qualified wages, including certain health insurance costs, paid to employees after March 12, 2020 through Sep 30, 2021. In order to claim the credit for eligible past quarters, employers must file Form 941-X (Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund) for the applicable quarter(s) in which the qualified wages were paid. 

It is important to note that employers must file the 941-X to claim ERTC within 3 years of the original 941 filing. We are still several months out from the first of these deadlines, which would occur at the end of Q1 2023 - being 3 years after the Q1 2020 filing – but employers should keep this 3 year period of limitations in mind if they still have intentions on claiming these credits and have not yet filed for them. If you are interested in discussing the ERTC program or filing for the credits, please contact your Client Service Manager for more information on this process.

 

Interstate Hiring Considerations for Employers

As businesses hire employees in new states, it is easy to overlook some important items on the to-do list, such as:

  • Applying for new state tax accounts
  • Creating or revising paid-time off plans
  • Reviewing minimum wage standards

Adams Keegan addresses these issues, and more, in a brief article, Interstate Hiring - Considerations for Employers, available on our website under the News and Resources tab.

 

Health Plan Coverage Transparency Rules

Enforcement of one of the Transparency in Coverage Final Rules begins on July 1, 2022. The rule requires plans and issuers to make separate machine-readable files publicly available that will disclose in-network rates and out-of-network allowed amounts and billed charges for plan or policy years that started on or after January 1, 2022.  No conditions can be imposed on the access to the files, such as establishment of a user account, password, or other credentials or submission of personally identifiable information to access the file, and the files must be updated monthly. Click here to read more courtesy of Foley & Lardner LLP.

 

Juneteenth: Federal Banking Holiday Reminder  

On June 17, 2021, Juneteenth National Independence Day was signed into law as a new national holiday.  It is celebrated on June 19th of each year.  Since the holiday falls on Sunday this year, federal offices, as well as many state and local offices, will be closed on Monday, June 20th, to observe the holiday. This means the Federal Reserve System (aka banking system) and U.S. Post Office will be closed on Monday, June 20th. The offices of Adams Keegan will be open and the services of Fed Ex will be operate as normal.

 

Adams Keegan Live Webinar – The Great Debate: Independent Contractor or Employee 

The rules surrounding worker classification can be confusing, and federal agencies are increasing enforcement efforts. Whether a person is working as an independent contractor or an actual employee impacts a business in a variety of ways. The amount of tax the organization pays and the taxes it withholds from paychecks are just a couple of items that are affected by how a worker is classified, so it is important that businesses make sure they are correctly identifying which workers truly qualify as independent contractors and which workers are more appropriately considered employees.

To help ensure that our clients are aware of the most up-to-date guidance available regarding classification, Adams Keegan will be hosting a live webinar on Wednesday, June 29th at 11:00 ET. Click here to register.

 

Flexible I-9 Rules for Remote Workers Extended Through October  

Federal immigration officials recently announced that they will permit remote review of new hires’ I-9 documentation for those who work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19 related precautions through October 31, 2022. According to the announcement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said that the requirement that employers inspect employees’ Form I-9 identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person applies only to those employees who physically report to work at a company location on any regular, consistent, or predictable basis for at least the next six months.

If a remote employee ceases remote work and begins to report to the employer’s physical location on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, the employer must physically inspect acceptable I-9 documentation and record the specifics of the in-person review. If a remote employee leaves employment before an in-person inspection of documents is possible, the employer should record this in a memorandum and attach it to the employee’s Form I-9.

 

Washington State Becomes Third Jurisdiction to Require Wage Data in Job Postings

In an effort to close what is viewed as a persistent pay gap, Washington has amended its Equal Pay and Opportunities Act for the second time to require employers to include wage and benefit information in their job postings effective January 1, 2023. This replaces the prior requirement that employers provide this information to applicants “upon request” after receiving a job offer. Washington is one of the first jurisdictions to require this information to be provided in job postings, following Colorado and New York City. Other jurisdictions have passed wage disclosure requirements and are likely to follow suit with respect to job postings. Click here to read more, courtesy of Littler Mendelson.

 

Temporary Final Rule Increases Automatic Extension of Certain Work Permits

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a temporary final rule that amends its regulations to increase the automatic extension period applicable to expiring Employment Authorization Documents (Forms I-766 or EADs) for certain renewal applicants who have filed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The automatic extension period will be temporarily increased from up to 180 days to up to 540 days from the expiration date stated on the EADs.

The temporary final rule only applies to those EAD categories currently eligible for an automatic extension for up to 180-days. The automatic extension period increase will be available to eligible renewal applicants with pending Forms I-765 as of May 4, 2022, including applicants whose employment authorization may have lapsed following the initial 180-day extension period, and any eligible applicant who files a renewal Form I-765 during the 540-day period beginning on or after May 4, 2022, and ending October 26, 2023.

 

EEO-1 Filing Deadline Extension 

On April 12, 2022, the EEOC opened its 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection survey, announcing that covered employers must submit and certify their EEO-1 Component 1 Report by May 17, 2022. Covered employers are required to submit annual workforce demographic data on their employees by race/ethnicity, sex, and job category.  According to the federal antidiscrimination agency’s frequently asked questions (FAQs), employers will still be able to file their EEO-1 Component 1 report past the May 17 deadline. After that date, the EEOC will enter the “failure to file” phase, during which filers who have not submitted and certified their mandatory reports by the published deadline will receive a notice of failure to file instructing them to submit and certify their data as soon as possible, specifically no later than June 21, 2022.

 

Maryland Enacts Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program  

The Maryland General Assembly has finalized legislation that establishes a Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) Program and a corresponding fund to provide 12 weeks of benefits to a covered individual taking leave from employment due to certain personal and family circumstances. The weekly benefit established under S.B. 275 is based on an individual’s average weekly wage, subject to a cap. The FAMLI Fund will be made up of contributions from employees and employers of at least 15 employees and participating self-employed individuals.  The legislation is generally effective June 1, 2022, with the establishment of the FAMLI Program, among other provisions, taking effect January 1, 2023.


DHS to End Temporary COVID Policy for Form I-9

The Department of Homeland Security is ending its COVID-19 Temporary Policy related to employment verification (Form I-9) with List B Identity Documents. Beginning May 1, 2022, employers will no longer be able to accept expired List B documents. Now that document-issuing authorities have reopened and/or provided alternatives to in-person renewals, DHS announced that it will end this flexibility.

The temporary policy recognized that due to widespread stay-at-home orders because of COVID-19 and some online renewal services restrictions, employees might experience challenges renewing a state driver’s license, a state ID card, or other Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, List B identity document. Considering these circumstances, DHS had issued a temporary policy on expired List B identity documents used to complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

If an employee presented an expired List B document between May 1, 2020, and April 30, 2022, employers are required to update their Forms I-9 by July 31, 2022.

 

DOL Considering Increase to Salary Threshold

It is expected that the Department of Labor will soon be proposing an increase to the current federal exempt salary threshold of $35,568 per year. While the specifics of a potential salary increase are unknown at this time, it is likely to be at least the amount of the previous 2016 proposal ($47,476 per year), which ultimately did not go in effect. Changes to the duties tests regarding exempt employee classification are not expected. Adams Keegan will monitor the situation and provide updates when additional information is available.

 

IRS Tax Filing Deadline for Individual Taxpayers

The filing deadline to submit 2021 tax returns or an extension to file and pay tax owed is Monday, April 18, 2022, for most taxpayers. By law, Washington, D.C., holidays impact tax deadlines for everyone in the same way federal holidays do. The due date is April 18, instead of April 15, because of the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia for everyone except taxpayers who live in Maine or Massachusetts. Taxpayers in Maine or Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022, to file their returns due to the Patriots' Day holiday in those states. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Monday, October 17, 2022, to file.

Adams Keegan’s staff cannot provide any advice for individual taxpayer returns. If your employees need help with their individual tax returns, they should seek consultation and/or services of a Certified Public Accountant or by visiting a tax preparer office/website.

 

COVID Inspections Ramping Up at Hospitals and Nursing Facilities

OSHA announced a new enforcement memorandum calling for a short-term increase in COVID-19 inspections at hospitals and skilled nursing care facilities that treat or handle patients infected with the coronavirus. The agency's goal is to mitigate and control the spread of COVID-19 and future variants of the virus, as well as to protect the health and safety of healthcare workers who are at significant risk for contracting the virus. OSHA will conduct follow-up inspections at sites that were previously issued citations, along with sites that were the subject of complaints but where OSHA did not conduct an in-person inspection. Click here to read the five-step preparedness plan healthcare organizations should be considering, courtesy of Fisher Phillips.

 

Washington State Long-Term Care Updates

In previous Employer Alerts, Adams Keegan has addressed Washington State’s long-term care fund that would require employers to withhold premiums from employees in the state unless an employee has an approved exemption letter. These premiums were originally scheduled to start on January 1, 2022, but Governor Jay Inslee directed the Employment Security Department to delay collecting premiums. The latest update instructs employers to begin collecting these employee contributions on July 1, 2023 and also adds categories of employees that can opt out of the program.

Adams Keegan has set the tax rate for this program to 0% so we are not collecting any premiums for this long-term care program until July 2023 per the updated rules.

 

What is the ERTC?

The Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) is a program created by Congress that helps employers maintain their workforces as they confront COVID-related restrictions that have negatively affected their businesses.

To this end, the ERTC is a refundable tax credit that businesses can claim on qualified wages, including certain health insurance costs, paid to employees after March 12, 2020 through Sep 30, 2021. Employers are eligible for the credit if they operated their businesses during this time, and their businesses (1) were fully or partially suspended or had to reduce business hours due to a government order OR (2) had a significant decline in gross receipts, as defined by program.


How Do Employers Claim the Credit?  In order to claim the credit for eligible past quarters, employers must file Form 941-X (Adjusted Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return or Claim for Refund) for the applicable quarter(s) in which the qualified wages were paid.


Why are We Experiencing Delays in Receiving the ERTC Funds?  Even though it has been months since the program ended, many taxpayers are still waiting on their IRS refunds to arrive. The IRS struggles with a massive backlog generated by the pandemic and staffing challenges (the same issues affecting nearly every sector of the economy). To make things worse, some automatically generated IRS notices are causing further confusion for taxpayers. These same backlog issues are delaying ERTC payments, leaving businesses and not-for-profits in a waiting game for these much-needed refunds. Erin Collins, a National Taxpayer Advocate, recently testified before the House Ways and Means Committee and offered some solutions to the IRS to help expedite this refund process and begin clearing the backlog. Hopefully, these efforts will result in meaningful solutions to a real problem facing businesses who are in need of these funds.

If you would like to discuss the ERTC program for your business, please contact your Client Service Manager for more information on this process.

 

EEO-1 Data Collection to Open in April

The EEOC announced that the 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection is tentatively due to open on April 12th, 2022. The tentative filing deadline for the 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 Report is May 17th, 2022.  Private-sector employers with at least 100 employees, and federal contractors with at least 50 employees meeting certain criteria, must file the EEO-1 Component 1 report. The annual data collection includes demographic workforce data by race/ethnicity, sex, and job categories.

 

Illinois Equal Pay Reporting Requirements

The Illinois Department of Labor reminds large employers of new reporting requirements that take effect March 24. Last year, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation requiring private businesses with 100 or more employees in the state to report certain payroll information to the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL).  The Illinois Department of Labor will communicate directly to businesses when it is time for them to register. Each business will receive no less than 120 days advance notice of their registration deadline. It is important to note that some businesses may not receive their assigned registration date for over a year.

 

California to Bring Back COVID Sick Leave

On January 25, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom and the state’s legislative leaders announced they have reached an agreement to require employers again to provide COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (SPSL), which expired on September 30, 2021. Under the previous SPSL law, California employers with more than 25 employees nationally were required to pay their California employees with up to 80 hours of COVID-19-related paid leave through September 30, 2021.

While the exact details of the new SPSL law have not been finalized, the governor has indicated that the new law would again require California employers to provide up to 80 hours of COVID-19-related paid leave through September 30, 2022, and it would be retroactive and apply to COVID-19 absences from January 1, 2022. Click here to read more from the National Law Review.

 

OSHA Withdraws Vaccination ETS

OSHA is withdrawing its interim final rule implementing the controversial large employer vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard (ETS) that was stayed by the Supreme Court on January 13, 2022. Although OSHA is withdrawing the ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the federal safety and health agency made clear that it is not withdrawing the ETS to the extent that it serves as a proposed rule. Employers will be watching carefully to see how OSHA handles the proposed rulemaking, as it may opt to craft a modified interim final rule that, incorporating comments and concerns expressed by the Supreme Court, narrows the rule’s reach and makes its requirements more nuanced for particular workplaces and industries.

 

Supreme Court Halts OSHA ETS, Allows CMS Mandate to Proceed

Earlier today, the U. S. Supreme Court granted emergency relief to stay implementation of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) that would have forced employers with 100 or more employees to require workers to provide proof of vaccination or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. The Court’s decision puts implementation and enforcement of the rule on hold pending further review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Click here to read more from Littler Mendelson.

In a separate opinion, the Supreme Court upheld the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate. This rule requires most providers and suppliers participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs to ensure staff, except for those with medical or religious exemptions, are vaccinated against COVID-19.

 

Status of OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS)

As the Supreme Court has not yet issued a decision regarding the potential injunction that would block enforcement of the OSHA ETS that requires employers with 100 or more employees to require certain employees to provide proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing, the portion of the ETS that requires a written COVID policy and the masking of workers that have not provided proof of vaccination is effective today - the testing requirement for unvaccinated employees is not effective until February 9, 2022. While OSHA is not expected to strongly enforce this ETS right away, employers should consider how they will proceed given the January 10 effective date of the ETS has come before the Supreme Court has spoken. Additional details regarding the ETS are linked here, courtesy of the National Law Review. In addition, Adams Keegan released a webinar last month discussing the requirements of the ETS in detail. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they are available.

 

Status of Nationwide Vaccine Mandates

As previously addressed on a recent Adams Keegan webinar, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a nationwide injunction regarding the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring large employers to ensure their employees are vaccinated or tested weekly. District Courts in Louisiana and Missouri have also issued nationwide injunctions regarding the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate and, most recently, a District Court in Georgia has now halted the Federal Contractor mandate. Both the CMS and Federal Contractor rules would have required employee vaccination without a testing alternative. Employers should monitor these cases as they are litigated in the courts, but at this time no action is required under any of these orders.

 

Unemployment Insurance Rate Notices

As part of Adams Keegan’s payroll service involving the withholding and remitting of state unemployment taxes on behalf of our clients, we make every effort to ensure that tax rates are reflecting accurately based on the information provided from the state agencies in the form of tax rate notices. To help us ensure that the correct tax rates are being applied to your unemployment account, please notify us when you receive a new tax rate notice. Depending on the state, the tax rate notice might be mailed, emailed, or simply published to the state’s online employer portal. Many of these notices require prompt review and, if necessary, appeal so it is important that these are provided in a timely manner.

For assistance or questions, please contact your Client Services Manager or Michael Hughes (michael.hughes@adamskeegan.com).

 

Minimum Wage Updates

State and local level changes to the minimum wage are scheduled to occur in 2022. Littler Mendelson’s rate chart detailing the changes is linked here. If you have any employees currently earning less than the new minimum wage in states or municipalities where the minimum wage is changing, please make sure you log into Efficenter and update these employees’ pay rates to properly reflect the new required minimum wage.

 

The Sixth Circuit Court Ends Stay of OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

On December 17, 2021, a panel of three Sixth Circuit Court judges removed the injunction issued by the Fifth Circuit that blocked the enforcement of the OSHA COVID-19 ETS that requires large employers to ensure their workforce is vaccinated or tested weekly. This was a somewhat surprising decision that is likely to be ultimately litigated in the U.S. Supreme Court, and multiple plaintiffs have already petitioned the Supreme Court for an injunction to ETS enforcement in the interim. In response to this Sixth Circuit decision, OSHA has announced that they will not enforce any of the ETS requirements until January 10, 2022 and will not enforce the vaccination or testing provisions until February 9, 2022.

 

OSHA ETS Resources

On November 9, Adams Keegan addressed the contents of the lengthy ETS in this webinar recording, and Jackson Lewis has provided an in-depth analysis regarding how the recent Sixth Circuit ruling affects employers.

 

The Revised Scope of the CMS Vaccine Mandate Injunction

In addition to the ETS news above, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate that had recently been halted on a nationwide basis is now only enjoined in the 25 plaintiff states involved in the lawsuits. Additional details regarding this decision, as well as the list of plaintiff states, can be found in this article from Baker Donelson.

 

OSHA ETS Requires Vaccine or Testing for Large Employers

The Department of Labor has produced the emergency temporary standard (ETS) that was promised by President Biden on September 9, 2021. The interim final rule, published in the Federal Register November 5, requires employers of 100 or more employees to develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, or to instead adopt a policy requiring employees to either get vaccinated or elect to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering in lieu of vaccination. Among many other provisions, the ETS requires employers to provide paid time for workers to get vaccinated and to allow for paid leave to recover from any side effects. On November 6, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order temporarily blocking the OSHA ETS.

On November 9th, Adams Keegan addressed the contents of the lengthy ETS in this webinar recording.

 

Massachusetts Extends COVID-19 Sick Leave

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently signed into law an extension to the Massachusetts COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) program. The EPSL program requires Massachusetts employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who are unable to work for certain reasons relating to COVID-19. Originally scheduled to expire on September 30, 2021 or when funding expired, the EPSL program has now been extended to April 30, 2022 or when funding runs out.

 

APRA Extension of FFCRA Leave Expires

Effective September 30, the extension of the FFCRA leave program granted through the American Rescue Plan ends and the tax credit is no longer available for employers who choose to provide leave for COVID-related reasons.

In Efficenter, the COVID-leave tracking tool will remain in place with a message reminding clients that any leave approved for a date beyond September 30 will be able to be processed and paid under a voluntary COVID leave pay code but will not be subject to the federal tax credit reimbursement. Clients may also have the tool removed from visibility if they no longer wish to use it moving forward.

 

Florida Minimum Wage Increases

The minimum wage in Florida is scheduled to increase to $10 per hour on September 30, with a minimum wage of at least $6.98 per hour for tipped employees, in addition to tips, through September 29, 2022. Florida voters approved a $15 minimum wage in the November 3, 2020, General Election. The initiative calls for an increase in the state minimum wage first to $10.00 per hour on September 30, 2021. The minimum wage will then increase by $1 each September 30 until it reaches $15 per hour on September 30, 2026. After that, starting September 30, 2027, the minimum wage would once again be adjusted annually for inflation.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has updated the minimum wage poster to reflect the change for 2021-2022. If you have any Florida employees currently earning less than the new minimum wage, please make sure you log into Efficenter and update these employees’ pay rates.

 

Washington Implements Long-Term Care Benefit Program

Washington H.B. 1087 established the Long-Term Services and Supports Trust Program in 2019 for all eligible Washingtonians, funded by worker contributions into a trust fund. Also known as the WA Cares Fund, the program both protects workers against the economic and social risks of needing long-term care as they age and better positions the state of Washington to cope with the fiscal and economic costs of the coming age wave and long-term care challenge.

Employer obligations. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, a 0.58% premium assessment will be imposed on all Washington employee wages. Employers will collect premiums from employees the same way they already do for Paid Leave. The Paid Leave reporting system is being updated so that employers can report for both programs at the same time. Adams Keegan will collect and remit this tax on behalf of client employees not claiming exempt (see below).

Tracking employee exemptions. Some employees may choose to apply for an exemption from WA Cares coverage. It’s their responsibility to apply, and-if approved-to notify and give their employer a copy of their approval letter from Employment Security Department (ESD). Once approved, exemptions are permanent and employees can never opt back in.

Once notified, employers must:

  • Not deduct WA Cares premiums from workers who’ve provided an ESD exemption approval letter.
  • eep a copy of their workers’ approval letters on file and provide a copy of this letter to Adams Keegan.
  • Employers cannot apply for exemptions on behalf of their employees.

 

For more information, visit the WA Cares Fund website or contact Adams Keegan to discuss further.

 

Missouri to Extend Unpaid Leave to Victims of Domestic Abuse

On August 28, 2021, Missouri joined a number of other states in extending unpaid leave and reasonable safety accommodations to employees who are victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse, or whose family or household members are victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse. The new statute, the Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA), applies to all employers in Missouri with at least 20 employees, and it contains a number of provisions that Missouri employers may want to note, including an October 27, 2021, deadline to provide notice to employees of their rights under VESSA. Click here to read more from Ogletree Deakins.

 

New York City Mandates Retirement

New York City employers that do not offer their own retirement savings plans to employees will soon be required to do so. Two recently enacted New York City laws (Bill Nos. 888-A and 901-A, collectively the "Retirement Security for All" acts), will require private-sector employers with five or more employees to enroll eligible New York City employees in either their own plan or in a city-managed retirement savings plan. Under the new laws, employers must: (1) automatically enroll eligible employees in individual retirement savings accounts (IRAs); (2) deposit employee funds into the IRA accounts; and (3) retain records confirming compliance with the laws' requirements for at least three years.

We do not yet know when employee savings will commence. The laws became effective on August 9, 2021, but the Retirement Savings Board (the agency created by the laws to implement the program) has up to two years to formalize program details and set a commencement date. Thus, covered employers do not need to take any immediate action. Read more here, courtesy of Littler Mendelson.

 

Texas Expands Sexual Harassment Coverage in the Workplace

In Texas, three new laws (Senate Bill No. 45, Senate Bill No. 282, the House Bill No. 21) went into effect on September 1, 2021 that drastically modified the well-established, employer-friendly framework governing sexual harassment claims brought in the Lone Star state. In particular, these changes include: (1) greater protection to individuals working for small employers not otherwise covered by anti-discrimination laws; (2) individual liability for sexual harassment; (3) expanded periods in which employees are allowed to file complaints with applicable federal and state enforcement agencies; and (4) a prohibition on using tax-payer funds to resolve sexual harassment claims against elected officials. For more details, FordHarrison has published additional information regarding these changes.

 

Employer Questions Following President Biden’s Pandemic Speech

On September 9th, President Biden announced a six-pronged approach that notably includes vaccine or weekly testing mandates for private employers with 100 or more employees. The details of the speech and the additional prongs, such as requirements in health-care settings & paid-time off for vaccination, are well-summarized in an article by Jackson Lewis. It is important to note that while OSHA is expected to release Emergency Temporary Standards detailing the steps employers need to take, these Standards are not yet available so a prudent approach for employers is to wait for more information before taking any action based on yesterday’s speech.

Adams Keegan is monitoring the developments and will provide more information as we receive it. In addition, Adams Keegan will be addressing this topic in a webinar on Tuesday, September 14th at 10:00am Central. Please click here to register.

 

FAQs Regarding ARPA Paid Leave

As mentioned in previous alerts, the American Rescue Plan Act was passed and signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. The Act extends and expands payroll tax credits until September 30, 2021, for employers who voluntarily provide paid sick and family leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). As more employers consider whether to provide this paid leave, and, therefore, be eligible for the payroll tax credits, additional questions have arisen. Questions regarding how much leave to offer, opting out, and additional worksite postings have been answered here, courtesy of Husch Blackwell LLP.

 

New York HERO Act

Governor Cuomo has signed the Health and Essential Rights Act (the HERO Act) into law. The HERO Act requires employers to adopt an airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan to protect employees during any future disease outbreak. The New York Department of Labor (DOL) published the HERO Act Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard; the Model Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Plan; and vario

 

Paid Sick Leave Coming to New Mexico in 2022

Beginning July 1, 2022, New Mexico will require private employers to provide up to 64 paid sick leave hours to their employees each year. The Healthy Workplaces Act (HWA) was signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on April 8, 2021 and brings New Mexico alongside 15 other states with paid sick time laws. Notably, the state-wide law follows Bernalillo County Ordinance 2019-17, which mandates employers within the county provide paid time off. That ordinance took effect July 1, 2020.

 

EEOC Extends Filing Deadline for EEO-1 Component 1 Data

Due to the high volume of support requests being received, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has extended the deadline to submit and certify 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 Data from July 19 to August 23, 2021. The EEO-1 Component 1 report is a mandatory annual data collection that requires all private sector employers with 100 or more employees, and federal contractors with 50 or more employees meeting certain criteria, to submit demographic workforce data. As the EEOC has the aforementioned backlog of outstanding support requests and often takes weeks to respond to employers, all who have any outstanding support issues should consider submitting or following up on their requests as soon as possible.

 

Form I-9 Physical Inspection Flexibilities Re-Extended

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the extension of flexibilities related to Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9, compliance that was initially granted last year. Due to the continued COVID-19 precautions, the Department of Homeland Security is extending this policy until August 31, 2021. The current extension includes guidance for employees hired on or after June 1, 2021, who work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions. Those employees are temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements associated with the Form I-9 until they undertake non-remote employment on a regular basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.

 

Kentucky Joins Several Other States in Offering Return-to-Work Incentive

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced a new incentive plan to pay as many as 15,000 Kentuckians on unemployment insurance a one-time $1,500 bonus to rejoin the workforce by July 30. The commonwealth will set aside $22.5 million in CARES Act funds to pay for the program to incentivize more people to leave unemployment insurance and begin filling job vacancies. Kentucky joins at least six other states that have offered return-to-work incentives, including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma. States have taken different approaches as to how individuals qualify for these programs, with incentives varying from $1000 to $2000. Legislation is pending in North Carolina for a return-to-work bonus program as well.

 

Minimum Wage Updates

State and local level changes to the minimum wage are scheduled to occur throughout 2021. Jurisdictions such as the District of Columbia & Oregon are among those with rate changes set to occur on July 1. Littler Mendelson’s rate chart detailing the changes is linked here. If you have any employees currently earning less than the new minimum wage in states or municipalities where the minimum wage is changing, please make sure you log into Efficenter and update these employees’ pay rates to properly reflect the new required minimum wage

 

OSHA Issues ETS for Healthcare Workers & Updates General Industry Guidance

On June 10, OSHA announced that it will issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 infection. The standard focuses on healthcare workers most likely to have contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. In addition, OSHA announced new general industry guidance. The ETS and general industry guidance are now aligned with CDC guidance. The standard will require that non-exempt facilities conduct a hazard assessment and have a written plan to mitigate virus spread. It also requires additional measures for some employers such as providing personal protective equipment and paid time off for vaccinations.

 

Massachusetts Employers Must Provide COVID-19 Leave

Under a law signed by Governor Baker, Massachusetts employers are now temporarily required to provide COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave to employees who are absent from and are unable to work due to certain COVID-related reasons. An employer must provide leave equal to the number of hours the employee works per week, up to 40 hours. The Executive Office for Administration and Finance (EOAF) will reimburse employers for the cost of providing COVID-19 emergency paid sick leave to employees. However, any qualified leave wages paid by an employer that are eligible for the tax credit for paid leave under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act are not also eligible for EOAF reimbursement.

 

Restaurant Revitalization Fund Application Portal Open

The American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide funding to help eligible restaurants and similar businesses keep their doors open. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023. The Fund’s Award Portal opened for all applications on May 3, although for the first 21 days only certain priority group applications will be processed and funded.

 

Employee Retention Tax Credit Reminder

In addition to our previous ERTC webinars and compliance alerts, we’d like to remind our clients that have not yet looked into their eligibility to take a few minutes to watch this short webinar created to provide an overview of the program, eligibility requirements, and the process of claiming the credits through Adams Keegan. After watching, please feel free to contact us to discuss the program in more detail so we can address the questions specific to your organization.

 

Virginia Minimum Wage Update

On May 1, Virginia increased the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.50 per hour. If you have any employees currently earning less than the new minimum wage in Virginia, please make sure you log into Efficenter and update these employees’ pay rates to properly reflect the new required minimum wage.

 

Employer Alert - Federal Income Tax Withholding

Due to the significant increase of calls received during this year’s tax filing season, we want to highlight some useful resources that are available to your employees and their managers or your administration office. We anticipate future employees and some existing employees will continue to have questions about their withholding amounts and the completion of Form W-4. While we cannot give your employees tax advice, we hope the resource links and information shared below provide helpful information as it relates to their personal tax situation and assurance that the system is withholding accurately based on their most recently completed Form W-4.

Revisions to Form W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Certificate)
The IRS made significant changes to Form W-4 for Year 2020 and forward to comply with the income withholding requirements found in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that was signed into law on December 22, 2017 and took effect in 2018. The Form W-4 had not seen substantive changes since 1986. It no longer uses the concept of withholding allowances to calculate the withholding amount. Any individual hired on or after 01/01/2020 is required to use the new form. This is also true for any existing employee making changes to their withholding on or after 01/01/2020.

Helpful IRS Links for Employees
The links below are directed to individual tax payers. They can also be found within Efficenter under My Info – Tax Setup.

Tax Withholding Estimator – https://www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-withholding-estimator

The Tax Withholding Estimator is a tool that individual taxpayers can use to determine if their tax withholding is on target for the year. Before an individual begins to use the tool, they should retrieve their most recent personal tax return and their latest check stub. It will ask questions regarding to the individual’s household. It doesn’t ask for any personal identification number such as name or Social Security number.

Informational Video on IRS YouTube Channel – IRS Tax Withholding Estimator https://youtu.be/BBuAzW43K1A
This video explains why an individual taxpayer should use the Tax Withholding Estimator, what the individual taxpayer will need readily available, and how the individual taxpayer can adjustment the results to increase the likelihood of a refund or have no refund. Tutorial Video on IRS YouTube Channel – IRS Tax Withholding Estimator https://youtu.be/1AidmxJ1O9U This tutorial video uses a random example to show the viewer how to use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator. Paycheck Checkup Flyer (IRS Pub 5303) – https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p5303.pdf This flyer helps identify which individual tax payers should be conducting a Paycheck Checkup throughout the year. FAQs on the 2020 Form W-4 – https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/faqs-on-the-2020-form-w-4 When the IRS released the final revisions for Form W-4 that went in to effect on 01/01/2020, they also published a webpage dedicated to FAQs on the revised Form W-4. Summarized impacts by line from Form W-4 (2020 or later) If the employee checks the box in Step 2 (Multiple Jobs or Spouse Works), withholding will increase. If the employee lists an amount in Step 3 (Claim Dependents), withholding will decrease. If the employee lists an amount in Step 4a (Other Income), withhold will increase. If the employee lists an amount in Step 4b (Deductions), withholding will decrease. If Single or Married filing Separately, more will be withheld than if Married Filing Jointly or Head of Household. If Married Filing Jointly, more will be withheld than if Head of Household Helpful Links for Employers The links below are directed to employers in order to calculate and/or confirm withholding amounts based on the latest Form W-4 completed by the employee. Income Tax Withholding Assistant for Employers – https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/income-tax-withholding-assistant-for-employers The Income Tax Withholding Assistant is a spreadsheet that will help small employers calculate the amount of federal income tax to withhold from their employees’ wages. You are able to toggle between settings for 2019 Form W-4 (or earlier) and 2020 Form W-4 (or later) to see the difference in withholding. Publication 15-T Federal Income Tax Withholding Methods – https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15t.pdf Publication 15-T is a booklet with withholding worksheets and withholding brackets and percentages that allow employers or employees manually calculate their withholding. Sample Notice to Employees – Form W-4 Beginning Year 2020 – https://www.adamskeegan.com/efficenter/docs/2020_W4_Sample_Notice.pdf This is a sample letter to give to your employees that explains the changes that took place on 2020 Form W-4. This can be found in Efficenter under My Company – Documents. Explanation of Calculation for Federal Income Tax Withholding (Version 2020 or later) The chosen marital status and the box in Step 2 (Multiple Jobs or Spouse Works) play big roles when performing the calculation of withholding in 2020 and after. The calculation begins by determining the employee’s annual taxable income based on the current pay frequency’s taxable wages. Then, it adds any amounts listed in Step 4a (Other Income) of Form W-4. Then, it subtracts a set amount based on the marital status if Box 2 is not marked along with the amount listed in Step 4b (Deductions) of Form W-4. If the box in Step 2 is checked, the system will not reduce annual taxable wages for the calculation. There will be more withheld when Step 2 is checked. If claiming Married Filing Jointly and the employee does not check the box in Step 2, the system will reduce annualized wages by $12,900. If claiming anything else and the employee does not check the box in Step 2, the system will reduce annualized wages by $8,600. This new amount is called Adjusted Annual Wage Amount. The calculation then uses the Adjusted Annual Wages Amount to calculate ‘tentative’ withholding amount based on tax brackets and marital status. The highest tentative withholding will occur on individuals claiming Single or Married Filing Separate. The next highest tentative withholding will occur on individuals claiming Married Filing Jointly. The least tentative withholding will occur on individuals claiming Head of Household. The next calculation step is based on information that is listed in Step 3 (Claim Dependents) of Form W-4. The system is taking the total amount listed in Step 3 and reducing the previous calculated “tentative” withholding and then dividing the result by the number of pay checks based on the employee’s pay frequency. Finally, it adds the amount listed in Step 4c (Extra withholding) of Form W-4 to the previous step’s calculated withholding amount to determine the actual withholding for the employee’s current check. If you have any questions regarding Federal Income Tax Withholding, Form W-4, or Efficenter’s Tax Form Wizard for new hire onboarding or existing employee changes, please contact your Payroll Account Manager.

 

American Rescue Plan’s COBRA Subsidy Provision

The American Rescue Plan Act provides a temporary 100 percent reduction in the premium that individuals would have to pay when they elect COBRA continuation health coverage following a reduction in hours or an involuntary termination of employment. The new law provides a corresponding tax credit for the entities that maintain group health plans, such as employers, multiemployer plans, and insurers. The 100 percent reduction in the premium and the credit are also available with respect to continuation coverage provided for those events under comparable State laws, sometimes referred to as “mini-COBRA.”

The IRS has provided guidance on the premium assistance and tax credit for continuation health coverage under COBRA. Notice 2021-31 provides guidance for employers, plan administrators, and health insurers regarding the new credit available to them for providing continuation health coverage to certain individuals. The notice, in the form of 86 Q&As, provides information regarding the eligibility of individuals, involuntary termination, calculating and claiming the credit, and more.

The notice clarifies that an Assistance Eligible Individual (AEI) is any individual who is:

  1. a qualified beneficiary as the result of : (A) the reduction of hours of a covered employee’s employment or (B) the involuntary termination of a covered employee’s employment (other than by reason of an employee’s gross misconduct),
  2. eligible for COBRA continuation coverage for some or all of the period beginning on April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, and
  3. elects the COBRA continuation coverage.

 

The notice of the ARPA extended election period must be furnished by May 31, 2021. An individual receiving the notice must elect COBRA continuation coverage no later than 60 days after the notice is provided in order to receive COBRA premium assistance. For AEIs who elect the premium assistance, a second notice must be provided to the individual 15-45 days prior to the expiration of the premium assistance.

It is important to note the following with regard to the ARPA COBRA notice and subsidy requirements:

  • For clients offering Adams Keegan Delta Dental & VSP vision plans, Adams Keegan will be sending the required APRA notices, processing elections, and claiming the premium tax credit
  • For clients sponsored plans where Adams Keegan is the COBRA administrator, Adams Keegan will assist with the ARPA notices requirements and premium tax credit processing, but some action may be required for new clients.
  • For client-sponsored plans where Adams Keegan is not the COBRA administrator, Efficenter is currently being updated to allow clients to claim the ARPA COBRA premium tax credit, but the client will need to ensure it complies with the ARPA COBRA notice and subsidy provisions.

 

Please feel free to contact your Adams Keegan Benefits Manager or Client Service Manager with any questions.

Collection of EEO-1 Data to Open on April 26

On March 29, the EEOC announced that the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection will open on April 26, 2021 with a filing deadline of July 19, 2021. The EEO-1 Component 1 collects workforce data from employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50 or more employees. The EEOC said that it will begin to formally notify EEO-1 filers through email beginning on March 29, 2021.

 

PPP Application Deadline Extended

Last month the Senate passed an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (H.R. 1799) and on March 30, President Biden signed it into law. The legislation lets PPP applications continue through May 31. Pending applications would be processed until June 30. With the extension, the agency is anticipating that the money available for the loans will dry up by mid-April.

 

Federal Court Strikes Down Dallas Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Federal Court Strikes Down Dallas Paid Sick Leave Ordinance The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas has permanently enjoined a controversial Dallas ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick leave benefits to certain employees. The federal decision follows similar rulings by the Texas state courts that enjoined the paid sick leave benefit ordinances from taking effect in Austin and San Antonio. The basis for all these decisions has been the same. As the federal court held with respect to Dallas, the city exceeded its authority because its ordinance violates the Texas Minimum Wage Act, and is therefore, unconstitutional. The principal take-away is that municipal attempts to create mandatory paid sick leave benefits within the private sector in Texas are dead-on-arrival under current state law. Click here to read more from Littler Mendelson.

 

Connecticut Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Deadline is Approaching

The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) reminds employers that the deadline for sexual harassment prevention training is April 19, 2021. The original October 1, 2020 deadline for training had been extended to April 19, 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The CHRO has created a web page with access to helpful employer resources such as the agency’s online training, FAQs, and the required worksite poster.

 

Massive COVID-19 Stimulus Package Clears House

On February 27, the House passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package intended to deliver on President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The mostly party-line vote of 219-212 saw two Democratic lawmakers joining Republicans to vote against H.R. 1319. A controversial sticking point is a phased-in $15 per hour minimum wage hike that the Senate Parliamentarian ruled on February 25 could not be included in the massive budget reconciliation bill. The wage hike remained in the House-passed version of the bill, but it will likely be dropped in the Senate. The relief package, now headed to the Senate, also includes another extension of FFCRA and Employee Retention Tax (ERT) credits, enhanced unemployment benefits, and COBRA premium assistance among many other items.

 

Arizona Governor Signs Pregnancy Accommodation Protections into Law

Last month, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation that extends employment protections to pregnant women in the state. The legislation, H.B. 2045, cleared both state houses on January 28, 2021. The new law specifies that the terms “because of sex” and “on the basis of sex” as used in the discrimination in employment statutes includes “because of or on the basis of pregnancy or childbirth or related medical conditions.” House Bill 2045 also provides that women affected by pregnancy or childbirth or related medical conditions must be treated the same, for all employment-related purposes, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work, including for receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs.

 

American Rescue Plan Extends FFCRA Leave Provisions

The recently passed American Rescue Plan (ARP) expands an eligible employer’s ability to provide paid, refundable leave for COVID-related reasons to employees through September 30, 2021. Effective April 1, the ARP adds vaccine-related leave to the list of reasons to provide the time off under the FFCRA, resets the 10-day sick leave limit, and expands the EFMLA provisions. The ARP does not mandate the leave, but it allows eligible employers that choose to participate to continue receiving tax credits for providing such leave to their employees. Click here to read more from Cozen O’Connor.

 

New York Law Grants Employee Vaccine Leave

New York Law Grants Employee Vaccine Leave Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation granting public and private employees time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Under this new law, employees will be granted up to four hours of paid, excused leave per injection that will not be charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued. This legislation is effective immediately and expires on December 31, 2022. Click here to read the official News Release from the Governor’s Office.

 

California Governor Signs COVID Supplemental Sick Leave Bill

Effective March 29, 2021, employers in California with more than 25 employees must provide up to 80 hours of COVID-related sick leave. The leave is similar to what is allowed under the FFCRA and retroactively extends to any COVID-related leave taken since January 1, 2021. The mandate to provide such leave expires on September 30, 2021. Any employees that took 2021 leave prior to this legislation being signed into law should make a request to their employer for payment. The California Department of Industrial Relations has released a mandatory worksite poster with additional information.

 

PPP Loans to be Temporarily Available to the Smallest Businesses Only

President Biden has recently announced that Wednesday, February 24th will begin a two-week period where only businesses with fewer than 20 employees will have access to PPP loans. This is in response to these small businesses often being unable to access needed funds due to their lenders focusing on the businesses securing larger payroll loans. The current COVID-relief legislation passing through Congress is also set to include additional grants for small businesses and may expand eligibility to additional organizations, such as social clubs, that have previously been unable to secure these forgivable loans.

 

EEOC Sets Timeline for EEO Data Collections Resuming in 2021

After delaying the opening of the 2019 EEO-1 Component 1 data collections due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EEOC announced on January 12, 2021, that it will open collections in April this year. The precise opening date of the collections, as well as the new submission deadline date, will be announced by posting a notice on the EEOC’s home page. Private employers with at least 100 employees and certain federal contractors with at least 50 employees will be required to report Component 1 data for 2019 & 2020.

 

APRA Extension of FFCRA Leave Expires

Effective September 30, the extension of the FFCRA leave program granted through the American Rescue Plan ends and the tax credit is no longer available for employers who choose to provide leave for COVID-related reasons.

In Efficenter, the COVID-leave tracking tool will remain in place with a message reminding clients that any leave approved for a date beyond September 30 will be able to be processed and paid under a voluntary COVID leave pay code but will not be subject to the federal tax credit reimbursement. Clients may also have the tool removed from visibility if they no longer wish to use it moving forward.

 

Florida Minimum Wage Increases

The minimum wage in Florida is scheduled to increase to $10 per hour on September 30, with a minimum wage of at least $6.98 per hour for tipped employees, in addition to tips, through September 29, 2022. Florida voters approved a $15 minimum wage in the November 3, 2020, General Election. The initiative calls for an increase in the state minimum wage first to $10.00 per hour on September 30, 2021. The minimum wage will then increase by $1 each September 30 until it reaches $15 per hour on September 30, 2026. After that, starting September 30, 2027, the minimum wage would once again be adjusted annually for inflation.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has updated the minimum wage poster to reflect the change for 2021-2022. If you have any Florida employees currently earning less than the new minimum wage, please make sure you log into Efficenter and update these employees’ pay rates.

 

EEOC Extends Filing Deadline for EEO-1 Component 1 Data – July 1, 2021

Due to the high volume of support requests being received, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has extended the deadline to submit and certify 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 Data from July 19 to August 23, 2021. The EEO-1 Component 1 report is a mandatory annual data collection that requires all private sector employers with 100 or more employees, and federal contractors with 50 or more employees meeting certain criteria, to submit demographic workforce data. As the EEOC has the aforementioned backlog of outstanding support requests and often takes weeks to respond to employers, all who have any outstanding support issues should consider submitting or following up on their requests as soon as possible.

 

Form I-9 Physical Inspection Flexibilities Re-Extended – July 1, 2021

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced the extension of flexibilities related to Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9, compliance that was initially granted last year. Due to the continued COVID-19 precautions, the Department of Homeland Security is extending this policy until August 31, 2021. The current extension includes guidance for employees hired on or after June 1, 2021, who work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions. Those employees are temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements associated with the Form I-9 until they undertake non-remote employment on a regular basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.

 

Minimum Wage Updates – June 21, 2021

State and local level changes to the minimum wage are scheduled to occur throughout 2021. Jurisdictions such as the District of Columbia & Oregon are among those with rate changes set to occur on July 1, 2021. The Littler Mendelson rate chart, which details the changes, is linked here.

 

Adams Keegan ERTC Program Overview Webinar – May 12, 2021

On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Adams Keegan hosted a webinar to offer an overview of Employee Retention Tax Credits, who’s eligible and the steps companies can take to work with Adams Keegan to register for the program. The recording of this webinar can be accessed here.

 

Adams Keegan COVID-19 Employer FAQ Webinar  – April 28, 2021

On Wednesday, April 28, 2021, Adams Keegan hosted a webinar where our team of experts offered a summary analysis of the updated FFCRA, and the impact of the "vaccine conversation" in the workplace. The recording of this webinar has expired.

 

Collection of EEO-1 Data to Open on April 26 

On March 29, the EEOC announced that the 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Component 1 data collection will open on April 26, 2021 with a filing deadline of July 19, 2021. The EEO-1 Component 1 collects workforce data from employers with 100 or more employees and federal contractors with 50 or more employees. The EEOC said that it will begin to formally notify EEO-1 filers through email beginning on March 29, 2021. Read the full announcement here.

 

PPP Application Extended   

Last month, the Senate passed an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (H.R. 1799) and on March 30, President Biden signed it into law. The legislation lets PPP applications continue through May 31, and pending applications would be processed until June 30. With the extension, the agency is anticipating that the money available for the loans will dry up by mid-April.

 

American Rescue Plan Extends FFCRA Leave Provisions

The recently passed American Rescue Plan (ARP) expands an eligible employer's ability to provide paid, refundable leave for COVID-related reasons to employees through September 30, 2021. Beginning April 1, the ARP adds vaccine-related leave to the list of reasons to provide the time off under the FFCRA, resets the 10-day sick leave limit and expands the EFMLA provisions. The ARP does not mandate the leave, but it allows eligible employers that choose to participate to continue receiving tax credits for providing such leave to their employees. Read more from Cozen O'Connor by clicking here.

 

New York Law Grants Employee Vaccine Leave

Govenor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation granting public and private employees time off to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Under this new law, employees will be granted up to four hours of paid, excused leave per injection that will not be charged against any other leave the employee has earned or accrued. This legislation is effective immediately and expires on December 31, 2022. Click here to read the official news release from the Governor's Office. 

 

California Govenor Signs COVID-19 Supplemental Sick Leave Bill

Effective March 29, 2021, employers in California with more than 25 employees must provide up to 80 hours of COIVD-related sick leave. The leave is similar to what is allowed under the FFCRA and retroactively extends to any COVID-related leave taken since January 1, 2021. The mandate to provide such leave expires on September 30, 2021. Any employees that took 2021 leave prior to this legislation being signed into law should make a request to their employer for payment. The California Department of Industrial Relations has released a mandatory worksite poster with additional information, which you can access here.

 

Adams Keegan COVID-19 Employer FAQ Webinar  – March 24, 2021

On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, Adams Keegan hosted a webinar to offer a summary analysis of the impact of the new COVID-19 relief package. Topics included COBRA, ACA, ERTCs, FFCRA and more. The recording of this webinar has expired.

 

Adams Keegan COVID-19 Employer FAQ Webinar  – February 16, 2021

On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, Adams Keegan, in collaboration with ArtsMemphis and Nonprofit Jenni, hosted a special session of our webinar series explaining Employee Retention Tax Credits for nonprofits. Topics included best practices for nonprofits in capturing and determining eligibility for Employee Retention Tax Credits, as well as PPP loans and FFCRA. The recording of this webinar has expired.

 

Adams Keegan COVID-19 Employer FAQ Webinar  – February 5, 2021

On Friday, February 5, 2021, Adams Keegan hosted Part Three of our webinar series explaining Employee Retention Tax Credits. Our experts offered a live Q&A with an analysis of the top questions Employers face in determining eligibility and capturing ERTCs, as well as questions on PPP Two and FFCRA. The recording of this webinar has expired.

 

Adams Keegan COVID-19 Employer FAQ Webinar  – January 27, 2021

On Wednesday, January 27, 2021, Adams Keegan held Part Two of our webinar series to explain Employee Retention Tax Credits. Our team of experts gave a comprehensive review of ERTCs and walked-through Adams Keegan's Guide to processing ERTCs, which is now available in Efficenter. The recording of this webinar has expired.

 

Adams Keegan COVID-19 Employer FAQ Webinar  – January 22, 2021

On Friday, January 22, 2021, Adams Keegan held Part One of our webinar series to explain Employee Retention Tax Credits. Our team of experts offered a comprehensive review of ERTCs, including employer eligibility, 2020 rule & limits, and 2021 changes & how it affects PPP One & Two. The recording of this webinar can be accessed here.

 

Adams Keegan COVID-19 Employer FAQ Webinar – January 15, 2021

On Friday, January 15, 2021, Adams Keegan hosted a webinar to answer questions about the newest pandemic relief legislation. Our team of experts addressed your questions on PPP One & Two, the choice to opt-in to continue FFCRA and how to handle ERTCs in 2021 in the live Q&A. The recording of this webinar has expired.

 

Adams Keegan End-of-Year Webinar Series – December 18, 2020

On Friday, December 18, 2020, Adams Keegan held our final webinar of the year. It included insights into the most pressing HR practice issues and ways to prepare for the year ahead. The recording of this webinar has expired.

 

Adams Keegan Employer FAQ Webinar – October 9, 2020

On Friday, October 9, 2020, Adams Keegan hosted a 30-minute review of politics and the workplace. Topics included voting rights by state, political and personal speech rights in the workplace, and best practices for handling employee questions and concerns this election cycle. The recording of this webinar has expired.

 

DOL Issues Proposed Rule Addressing FLSA Independent Contractor Status

The Department of Labor has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking revising its interpretation of independent contractor status under the FLSA. With respect to a final rule, the Department’s Wage and Hour Division is planning to "finalize before year-end." Key provisions proposed by the department include:

  • Adopting an "economic reality" test to determine a worker’s status as an FLSA employee or an independent contractor. The test considers whether a worker is in business for themselves (independent contractor) or is economically dependent on a putative employer for work (employee).
  • Identifying and explaining two "core factors," specifically: the nature and degree of the worker’s control over the work; and the worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment.
  • Identifying three other factors that may serve as additional guideposts in the analysis including: the amount of skill required for the work; the degree of permanence of the working relationship between the worker and the potential employer; and whether the work is part of an integrated unit of production.
  • Advising that the actual practice is more relevant than what may be contractually or theoretically possible in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.

The proposed regulation has been submitted to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) for publication. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be available for review and public comment for 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

 

Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

On October 1, Tennessee will join a growing list of states providing additional protections to pregnant employees as the Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act takes effect. Covered employers include those with 15 or more employees. Under the Act, it is unlawful for an employer to refuse to make reasonable accommodations for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical conditions unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. Tennessee employers should review their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the Act and also ensure supervisors are properly trained on its requirements. Click here to read more from Bass, Berry & Sims PLC.

 

DOL Issues Guidance on Tracking Telework Hours

On August 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2020-5 to provide guidance regarding employer’s Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) obligations to track hours worked by offsite employees. Under the FLSA, an employer is required to pay its employees for all hours worked, even work not requested but permitted, including work performed at home. If the employer knows or has reason to believe (constructive knowledge) that work is being performed, the time must be counted as hours worked. The DOL notes that if an employer should have discovered the unreported work through reasonable diligence, constructive knowledge of uncompensated work may be established. One way an employer generally may satisfy its obligation to exercise reasonable diligence to acquire knowledge regarding employees’ unscheduled hours of work is by establishing a reasonable process for an employee to report uncompensated work time and communicating this process to employees. The DOL states that if employees fail to report unscheduled work time through such a process that has been made available to them, the employer is generally not required to investigate in order to uncover the unreported hours.

 

DC Begins Administering Paid Family Leave

Under the provisions of the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act, the District of Columbia began administering paid family leave benefits to employees effective July 1, 2020. The Act provides up to eight weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child, six weeks of family leave to care for an ill family member with a serious health condition, and two weeks of medical leave to care for one’s own serious health condition. DC began collecting taxes on July 1, 2019 to fund these programs. Click here to read more from the DC Dept. of Employment Services, and you can access the Paid Family Leave Notice here.

 

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Title VII Protection for Gay and Transgender Employees

In a highly anticipated decision, a divided U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “an employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids." Title VII prohibits discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, religion, and sex. Although sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly mentioned, the Court holds that such classes should be included because Title VII prohibits discrimination "because of sex.” As such, employers need to ensure their policies include protections consistent with this decision and take appropriate steps to maintain a workplace free of discrimination and harassment based on an employee's LGBTQ status. Click here to read more from Baker Donelson.

Most employers already have stated anti-discrimination and harassment policies addressing gender, sexual identity.  However, this is a good opportunity to review those policies, and take a moment to assess managers’ awareness and responsibilities for handling employee questions and behaviors in a manner aligned with the company’s culture and a proper response program.

Please consult your Adams Keegan HR Consulting Team with any questions

 

EEO-1 Reporting Delayed Until 2021

Last month, the EEOC announced that it will not collect EEO-1 workplace demographic data for calendar year 2019 this year.  Rather, the agency will collect EEO-1 data for both calendar years 2019 and 2020 next year, with the announced expectation that collection of both years’ data will begin in March 2021. Note that the agency does not intend to collect the controversial Component 2 pay data, only the traditional Component 1 data that includes sex, race, ethnicity, and job category. Click here to read more from Littler Mendelson.

 

DHS Issues Temporary Policy for Form I-9 List B Documents

Beginning on May 1, identity documents found in List B set to expire on or after March 1, 2020, and not otherwise extended by the issuing authority, may be treated the same as if the employee presented a valid receipt for an acceptable document for Form I-9 purposes. Employers should document the use of the temporary exception on the Form I-9 as described in the policy and follow-up with an examination of unexpired documents after the temporary policy terminates. Please visit the E-Verify What’s New page for additional details.

 

COVID-19 Leave Tracking Available in Efficenter

As noted in a previous COVID-19 Alert, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act amended the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide paid emergency leave to eligible employees and also required covered employers to provide paid sick leave to employees in need of such leave due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Act also provides reimbursable tax credits to covered employers for the costs associated with providing this paid leave and sick time. The Act goes into effect on April 1 and applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees. To assist clients in managing this process, Adams Keegan has created a tool in Efficenter’s Manage Leave that allows employees to request, and employers to approve and track, leave used for COVID-19-related purposes. To turn on this feature, please contact your Client Service Manager. If you have questions regarding the leave, please direct those to your HR Consultant.

 

Information on SBA Loan Programs

As a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, multiple avenues of relief will be available to small businesses through programs administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Notably, the size limits for consideration as a "small business concern" have been changed, making many more entities eligible for assistance through programs administered by the SBA. Click here to read more from Baker Donelson regarding the various assistance programs available, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Also note that while the form for filling out a PPP loan has been released, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has recently stated that the applications cannot be submitted until Friday, April 3, 2020. Efficenter now has the SBA CARES Act Data Report available under the Reports tab, which provides information necessary to complete the PPP application.

 

CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program Information

The Coronavirus Aid, Response, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) includes the Paycheck Protection Program.  Administered through the Small Business Administration, the program offers $350 billion in loans to help small businesses retain employees. Click here to learn more, courtesy of NAPEO.

 

COVID-19 Employer Impact Webinar Presentation

On March 31, 2020, Adams Keegan presented a webinar, in conjunction with the Greater Memphis Chamber, about the most current information on COVID-19 impact to employers.  The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Coronavirus Aid, Response, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) are covered, including Paycheck Protection Program and tax credits. Click here for more information.

 

President Trump Signs CARES Act into Law

President Trump has signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion economic relief package, into law. Among other things, the Act includes a significant expansion of the unemployment insurance program, a small business rescue plan that allocates billions to forgivable loans and grants to small businesses and non-profits, and authorizes direct payments to individuals and families. The Act also provides retention tax credits to encourage businesses to keep workers on the payroll during the coronavirus crisis. Click here to read more on CARES from Jackson Lewis, and note that Adams Keegan is working on creating reports that will provide information employers will need when applying for these SBA disaster loans.

 

Unemployment Benefits Increase Under CARES Act

Under the CARES Act, a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will relax employee eligibility requirements, increase maximum weekly unemployment benefit amounts by $600 for the next four months, and waive the typical one-week waiting period for benefits. Since these unemployment benefits are also available to part-time workers whose pay has been reduced, it is important to note that this change in maximum weekly benefits will expand the pool of employees that are eligible to file a partial claim under the Act.

 

DOL Provides Extensive FAQs on FFCRA Leave Obligations

In an effort to assist businesses with compliance regarding the new FFCRA paid sick and expanded medical leave mandates, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued additional FAQs regarding employer and employee rights and responsibilities under the Act.

 

DHS Announces Flexibility for I-9 Document Review

Due to precautions being implemented by employers and employees related to physical proximity associated with COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it will exercise discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9). Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. This provision only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely, and a physical inspection of the documents must occur once normal operations resume. For additional information, please read the USCIS News Release.

 

States Mandate Business Closures

Several states are requiring businesses that are not providing essential services to close or reduce their in-office workforce. New York has issued an executive order mandating businesses that rely on in-office personnel to decrease their workforce by 75 percent. Pennsylvania has ordered many businesses to close their physical locations, and California has issued a stay-at-home order to workers in the state. This is a rapidly updating situation, so please reference the agency website of any state in question for the most up-to-date information on these orders.

 

New York to Provide Sick Leave for Coronavirus and Beyond

On March 17, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a deal with the state legislature on a bill that would guarantee job protection and pay for New Yorkers who have been quarantined as a result of COVID-19. The program bill would also make permanent the comprehensive paid sick leave policy first advanced by Cuomo in his Fiscal Year 2021 Executive Budget proposal, according to the Governor’s office.

 

Oregon Adopts Emergency Leave Rule

Under a temporary administrative order, effective March 18, 2020, Oregon employees may be absent for up to 12 weeks, on a continuous or intermittent basis, because the employee’s child’s school or place of care has been closed by public authorities, including out of concerns related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Click here to read more, courtesy of Jackson Lewis.

 

OSHA and WHD Release COVID-19 Guidance

The Labor Department’s OSHA and its Wage and Hour Division have both published guidance on dealing with coronavirus in the workplace. OSHA has released a comprehensive 35-page guide for employer planning purposes, while the WHD division has released frequently asked questions and answers about COVID-19 and its intersection with the FLSA and FMLA. In addition, OSHA recently launched a COVID-19 webpage, which provides infection prevention information specifically for workers and employers.

 
Unemployment Insurance Eligibility Impacted by Coronavirus 

The House of Representatives has introduced H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Among other things, this legislation would assist states financially in administering unemployment insurance programs by providing emergency grants to any states that experience a spike in unemployment claims as long as they temporarily ease eligibility requirements, such as work search, that could limit employee access to benefits due to COVID-19. If passed, this could encourage states to follow the lead from other states that have already eased their unemployment eligibility requirements in response to the outbreak. California, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Washington are among the states that have already acted to revise or clarify their policies to provide relief to employees that must miss work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 
Colorado HELP Rules in Effect 

On March 11, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) released emergency rules that temporarily require employers in certain industries to provide a “small amount of paid sick leave” to employees with flu-like symptoms while awaiting COVID-19 testing. Specifically, rules require these employers to provide paid leave for the four-day period required for testing. The rules will remain in place for 30 days, or longer if the state of emergency declared by Governor Jared Polis continues.

 

Annual EEO-1 Survey to Open Soon, Component 2 Collection Complete

The long saga of the EEOC’s continuing obligation to collect pay data in its EEO-1 report has finally come to an end. In a February order, the court declared the EEOC’s collection of EEO-1 report pay data (Component 2) for calendar years 2017 and 2018 complete. The EEOC plans to discontinue the collection of Component 2 pay data but will continue collecting traditional Component 1 (race, gender, job category) data. When the Component 1 survey opens, likely at some point this month, the EEOC will post a notice on their website and will be sending a notification letter to eligible EEO-1 filers. If your EEO-1 contact person has changed since last year, please make sure to email the new company contact information to the EEOC’s Employer Data Team (e1.techassistance@eeoc.gov) to ensure the notification letter is sent to the correct person. Click here to visit the EEOC’s website for more information.

 

OSHA Takes Action in Response to Coronavirus

Amid rising concerns nationally about the evolving coronavirus outbreak first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, OSHA has set up a webpage that provides information for workers and employers. OSHA has posted information about coronavirus, including links to interim guidance and other resources for preventing exposures to, and infections with, coronavirus.

 

Illinois and New Jersey Target Workplace Harassment

The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) has issued guidance on the sexual harassment prevention training that employers must provide to employees by December 31, 2020, and annually thereafter. Signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on August 9, 2019, the Workplace Transparency Act strengthens protections for employees and adds responsibilities for employers at workplaces across the state. In addition to Illinois, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has unveiled workplace legislation overhauling the state’s anti-harassment laws for both public and private employers. The bill establishes clear language to define a hostile work environment, mandates that all employers provide training on unlawful discrimination and harassment, and extends the statute of limitations for cases brought under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. For more information from each state, please read the IDHR Press Release (IL) and the Office of the Governor Press Release (NJ).

 

Maryland Becomes Latest State to “Ban the Box”

Maryland has joined a growing number of jurisdictions by enacting a “ban the box” law prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history on the initial job application. The new Maryland law, the Criminal Record Screening Practices Act, prohibits employers with at least 15 full-time employees from requiring applicants to disclose whether they have a criminal record before the first in-person interview. The Act does permit local jurisdictions to enact “ban the box” legislation that is more restrictive than the state law. Currently, three local jurisdictions in Maryland (Baltimore City, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County) already have more restrictive laws. Click here to read more from Jackson Lewis.

 

DOL Issues Final Rule on Joint Employer Status

On January 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to revise and update its regulations interpreting joint employer status under the FLSA. The final rule provides updated guidance for determining joint-employer status when an employee performs work for their employer that simultaneously benefits another individual or entity. In the final rule, the Department specifies that an employer’s franchisor or similar business model do not make joint employer status more or less likely, and the DOL also provides several examples applying the Department’s guidance for determining joint-employer status. For more details, you can read the DOL News Release and corresponding Fact Sheet.

 

Updated Form I-9 Now Available

The new Form I-9 (Rev. 10/21/2019) has been released and is available for use immediately, although it is not mandatory until May 1, 2020. In the meantime, employers may choose to use the previous version of the form (Rev. 07/17/2017) or the new edition to verify employment eligibility. The new Form I-9 has been updated in Efficenter and includes minor changes such as adding Eswatini and North Macedonia to the Country of Issuance field, clarifying who can act as an authorized representative, and updating the USCIS website address. Click here to read more from the USCIS.

 

California Consumer Privacy Act

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) goes into effect on January 1, 2020. This Act places limitations on the collection of personal information and provides consumers certain rights with respect to their information. In general, the CCPA applies to organizations that conduct business in California and collect personal information, although the specific requirements and additional information regarding the Act can be found in detail by clicking here, courtesy of Jackson Lewis. 

If your organization is subject to the CCPA, it is important to note that employee personal information is excluded from most of the CCPA’s requirements. However, covered employers must still provide notices to their applicants and employees to satisfy the privacy notice provision of the Act.

 

Nevada Implements Paid Leave

Effective January 1, 2020, Nevada will require private employers with at least 50 employees to provide up to 40 hours of paid leave per year. Leave may be provided in a lump sum at the beginning of each year or accrued throughout the year. Employers are not required to pay out unused time upon termination. Further details are available in this summary bulletin from the Office of the Labor Commissioner. 

 

2020 Form W-4 Information and Resources

The 2020 Form W-4 Employee’s Withholding Certificate has undergone significant changes from previous years’ forms.  The form revisions are necessary to comply with the income withholding requirements found in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that was signed into law on December 22, 2017.  The Form W-4 has not seen substantive changes since 1986.  Adams Keegan wants to help you stay on top of these changes and to understand how they impact you and your employees. 

The IRS has released the final version of the 2020 Form W-4.  Adams Keegan has been working diligently to update our systems and we are well prepared for the changes. The 2020 Form W-4 will be available in Efficenter and Onboarding on January 1st. New hires after 1/1/2020 will be required to use the new form.  Employees, who submitted a Form W-4 in any year prior to 2020, will not be required to complete a new form merely because of the design change; their withholding will be calculated using the marital status and allowances from their most recently completed valid Form W-4.  However, employees making changes to their withholding on or after 1/1/2020 must use the new form.  In addition, employees claiming exempt in 2019, who wish to continue the exemption in 2020, must complete a 2020 Form W-4 by February 17th.

To comply with the TCJA, the Form W-4 will no longer use the concept of withholding allowances to calculate the withholding amount.  The IRS has said that the change is due to the fact that the TCJA removed personal exemptions from the tax code, which were the basis for withholding allowances in the past.  The TCJA has now also created a ‘Head of Household’ filing status option to be incorporated into the form.

The 2020 Form W-4 contains five steps for employees to complete (or skip if they are not applicable):  1) enter personal information; 2) account for multiple jobs; 3) claim dependents; 4) make other adjustments; 5) sign and date the form.  Steps 1 and 5 are the only required steps.  Steps 2-4 are optional, and can be used to adjust the amount of income subject to withholding and the tax to withhold.

We anticipate that employees will have questions and concerns about the revised form.  While we cannot give your employees tax advice, we can provide resources to help answer many of their questions.  Helpful resources from the IRS are linked below:

See below for a video that should further help you understand the changes and requirements. Of course, if you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to your Human Resources Administrator or Payroll Account Manager.

 

 

Minimum Wage Changes in 2020

In addition to the 2020 increase concerning the minimum amount employers must pay executive, administrative, and professional employees for these workers to be exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage and overtime requirements, many state and local level changes to the minimum wage are scheduled to occur throughout 2020. Click here for more information, as well as a rate chart detailing the changes, courtesy of Littler. If you have any employees currently earning less than the new minimum wage in states or municipalities where the minimum wage is changing, please make sure you log into Efficenter and update these employees’ pay rates to properly reflect the new required minimum wage.

 

DOL Proposes Regulations Regarding the FLSA’s 80/20 Rule & Tip-Pooling

The Department of Labor announced a proposed rule that would eliminate the current requirement for employers in the restaurant, hospitality, and other related industries to track and pay tipped employees the full minimum wage for time spent on duties that do not generate tips, such as rolling napkins or cleaning tables, if that work exceeds 20% of their shift. The DOL’s proposal would allow employers to receive the tip credit (if state law allows) regardless of the amount of time the tipped employee spends on non-tipped side tasks as long as this work is done concurrently with, right before, or shortly after the primary tip-generating tasks. In addition, this proposal would make it easier for employers that do not take a tip credit to require their tipped employees to share gratuities with non-tipped employees. A final ruling on this proposal is expected in 2020.  Click here to read more, courtesy of Jackson Lewis.

 

California OSHA Imposes Wildfire Regulations

Employers in California are advised to take appropriate steps to protect employees from exposure to wildfire smoke and related hazards. Cal/OSHA has released emergency regulations on identifying and controlling harmful exposures, communicating and training employees, as well as providing specific sampling requirements for employers monitoring exposure with direct reading instruments. Click here for more on this topic from the California Department of Industrial Relations.

 

San Antonio’s Paid Sick Ordinance

San Antonio’s recent Sick Leave Ordinance may require employers to provide employees with one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours per year. This is slated to go into effect on December 1, 2019. However, local business groups are seeking to overturn this law before it goes into effect by requesting an injunction to block the ordinance during a November 7 District Court hearing. San Antonio joins other Texas cities Austin and Dallas in attempting to implement local sick leave laws that face legal challenges in the state.  

 

California Redefines Standard For Contractor Classification

Last month, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 5, which eliminates the application of the common-law test to determine whether someone can be classified as an independent contractor instead of an employee. The state now applies the more stringent ABC test, which means any person providing labor or services for remuneration will be considered an employee unless the hiring entity can demonstrate the three prongs of the ABC test are all met. Click here to read more on this topic from Littler.

 

Minnesota Wage Theft Prevention Ordinance

Minnesota’s recent Wage Theft Law requires employers to provide written information to employees regarding their pay rate, pay schedule, time off accruals, and certain other terms of employment. These notices should be provided at the start of their employment and anytime during employment that any of this information changes. The City of Minneapolis has also passed legislation that places additional requirements on employers, such as providing detailed notice to workers of their rights under the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Ordinance. Click here for more information on the Minneapolis requirements, courtesy of Jackson Lewis.

 

Final Overtime Rule Released by the U.S. Department of Labor

The Department of Labor has updated the earnings threshold necessary to exempt executive, administrative, and professional employees from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements. The standard salary level increases from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $684 per week ($35,568 annually), while the duties test under these exemptions remains unchanged. The final rule also increases the annual wage requirement for a “highly compensated employee” by $7,432, and the rule allows employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses to satisfy a portion of the wage level thresholds. This rule is effective on January 1, 2020, so employers should begin to prepare and budget accordingly. Click here to read the full news release from the Department of Labor, and please feel free to contact a member of your Adams Keegan support team with any questions.

 

Continue Using the Current Form I-9

Although the current version of the Form I-9 has an expiration date of August 31, 2019, the USCIS recently posted guidance on their website that tells employers to continue using this expired version of the form until further notice. Some minor revisions are expected on the new form regarding the List of Acceptable Documents, as well as clearer instructions on who can be an authorized representative of the company in Section 2. However, nothing has been published to date and the version expiring 8/31/19 is still in effect for verifying employment eligibility.

 

Massachusetts Paid Family Leave Deductions Begin in October

The Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave has published final regulations for Paid Family and Medical Leave, and payroll withholdings will begin on October 1, 2019. Benefits under the program will be available to employees beginning in January 2021. Employers should post the Paid Family and Medical Leave poster in a conspicuous location at the worksite. Click here for more information from Mass.gov.

 

Connecticut to Increase Minimum Wage

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont recently signed legislation that will gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by June 2023. The first increase is scheduled for October 1, 2019 when the current minimum hourly rate of $10.10 will increase to $11.00. Click here to read Governor Lamont’s press release.

 

Other Minimum Wage Changes in 2019

As mentioned in previous employer alerts, state and local level changes to the minimum wage are scheduled to occur throughout 2019. Jurisdictions such as New Jersey, Oregon, and the District of Columbia are among those with rate changes set to occur on July 1. Click here for a chart of state-level minimum wage increases, courtesy of Fisher Phillips.

 

Employers Must Report Pay Data to EEOC in September

The EEOC plans to require employers to report two years of pay data by September 30, 2019. The pay and hours worked data, also known as Component 2 data, from the 2017 and 2018 payrolls must be broken down by sex, race, and ethnicity. The EEOC expects to open the reporting window for Component 2 data by mid-July, but will notify employers of the exact date at a later time. This development has no effect on the current EEO-1 reporting requirements of traditional Component 1 data, and applicable employers should proceed with filing the current version of the EEO-1 report by the May 31 deadline. Click here for more information, courtesy of The National Law Review.

 

New Jersey Bans Non-Disclosure Agreements, Among States Mandating Retirement Savings 

Governor Phil Murphy recently signed S. 121, which imposes significant limitations upon an employer’s ability to enter into NDAs when settling discrimination, retaliation, and harassment claims. The Act, which includes several wide-sweeping and ambiguous provisions, is part of a larger nationwide movement targeting NDAs and release provisions in employment-related contracts. Click here for more information on S. 121, courtesy of Littler Mendelson. In other New Jersey news, the Garden State has also passed Assembly Bill 4134 into law, which creates the New Jersey Retirement Savings Program. Employers with at least 25 employees will be required to set up an automatic payroll deduction for employees to participate in a state-managed retirement savings program unless employers already offer their own retirement savings plan. Other states, such as Illinois and Connecticut, are also expected to implement similar retirement savings mandates this year.

 

EEOC Requests To Collect Pay Data in September

The EEOC is targeting a date of September 30 to collect pay data from employers. Specifically, the revised EEO-1 report being proposed would include W-2 earnings and hours worked in addition to an employee’s job category, sex, race, and ethnicity. The current EEO-1 reporting site opened on March 18 without the capability to collect this additional data, and at this time applicable employers should proceed with filing the current version of the EEO-1 report by May 31. Click here for more information, courtesy of The National Law Review.

 

Federal Court Stops December 1 Implementation of New Overtime Rules

A federal court in the Eastern District of Texas granted a nationwide injunction blocking the enforcement of the FLSA overtime rule. Employers are no longer required to meet the December 1 deadline. The lawsuit, filed by 21 states and a variety of employer groups, argued that the Department of Labor (DOL) exceeded its authority when it nearly doubled the salary level required for overtime exemption from $23,660 ($455/week) to $47,476 ($913/week).

Download Alert >>

 

USCIS Releases New I-9 Form

USCIS has released a new version of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Until January 22, 2017, Employers have the choice of using the new 11/14/2016 version of the form, OR using the 03/08/2013 version. However, by January 22, 2017, employers must use the new Form I-9 for all new hires, and also for reverifying any existing employees who require reverification of their work authorization. For reverifying an existing employee, the employer must complete Section 3 of the new version and attach it to the employee’s existing I-9. The issuance of the new I-9 version does NOT compel an employer to complete brand new I-9s for its entire existing workforce in a blanket fashion.

Download Alert>>

 

Adams Keegan Webinar | New Overtime Rules Explained & Action Plans

On May 18, the President and Secretary of Labor announced the publication of the Final Rule updating overtime regulations. This may have an impact on your compensation policies and practices. The attached Employer Compliance Alert addresses what you need to know and do to ensure compliance.

As with many complex topics, Adams Keegan provides additional information to help clarify your understanding of the Final Rule.  Our goal is to ensure that you're aware of all the steps needed to ensure compliance well in advance of the Department of Labor's December 31, 2016 deadline. Click below for a link to a recording of a recent webinar, as well as the pdf of the presentation.

Webinar: New Overtime Rules Explained
Webinar Recording
Webinar Presentation

New Overtime Rules Released | Effective December 1, 2016

On May 18, 2016, President Obama and Labor Secretary Perez announced the publication of the Department of Labor's Final Rule updating the overtime regulations which will automatically extend overtime pay protections to an expected 4 million workers within the first year of implementation. This is the final stage of the President's initiative beginning July 2015 directing the U.S. Department of Labor to update regulations to better define and delimit the traditional "white collar" exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Download Alert >>

EEOC Proposes Addition of Pay Data to EEO-1 Reports

On February 1, 2016, the EEOC published a proposed revisions to the EEO-1, Employer Information Report, in the Federal Register. A public hearing was held on March 16, 2016, to gather information and hear public comment on the proposal. Written comments to the EEOC's proposal were due Friday, April 1, 2016.

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FMLA Definition of Spouse Revised

On Friday, March 27, 2015, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) revisions to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) regulations’ definition of “spouse” become effective.

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Twenty-one states increase minimum wage, tip credit in 2015

In 2015, twenty-one states will see increases to the state minimum wage and/or tip credit. It is especially important for employers with multi-state operations to know the developments in the law.

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Illinois employers banned from asking job applicants about criminal conviction history

In 2014, Illinois joined a host of other states that enacted what has been commonly called a “ban the box” law as the laws prohibit questions about criminal convictions on job applications.

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Illinois employers must post pregnancy accommodation notices

The new Illinois state law, P.A. 98-1050, amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to increase protections for pregnant employees and new mothers in the workplace.

 

Beginning January 1, 2015, Illinois employers must post information about pregnancy rights in the workplace in a conspicuous location on the employer’s premises and include the protections in their employee handbooks.

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DC employers face new notice requirements

On September 19, 2014, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray signed into law the Wage Theft Prevention Amendment Act of 2014 (“the Act”), increasing both employer notice requirements and employer liability.  It is anticipated that the Act will take effect January 14, 2015, though with a new Congress beginning in January, the mayor’s office announced the law may not take effect until late February or even late March.

 

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Addressing Ebola in the workplace

Due to the spread of Ebola in West Africa and the United States, many employers are seeking recommendations on how to respond to workplace concerns and reduce liability. The practical guidance offered in this article would also apply to the pandemics (H1N1, Bird Flu) of the last several years and highlight potential issues to consider when faced with serious illness in the workplace.

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Access denied: Tennessee limits employers’ access to personal online content

Tennessee recently joined over a dozen states that prohibit employers from requesting and requiring access to the personal internet accounts of job applicants and employees. (Other states that have enacted employment-related online privacy laws include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.)

The Employee Online Privacy Act of 2014, signed by Governor Bill Haslam on April 29, 2014, that will take effect January 1, 2015, is applicable to all employers, regardless of size. Read more from Littler

New Law Expands Parental Leave Rights for Small Business Owners’ Employees

Effective October 2014, the Maryland Parental Leave Act (PLA) provides eligible employees six (6) weeks of unpaid, job-protected parental leave for the birth of a child or the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care. 

Download alert »

New Mexico Law Requires Employers to Post Human Trafficking Notice

New Mexico Governor Susan Martinez approved a law requiring New Mexico employers to display a poster containing the National Human Trafficking Resource Hotline. New Mexico Employers subject to the Minimum Wage Act, including health facilities and state or local government agencies that manage transportation facilities (including highway rest areas), must have the poster displayed no later than July 1, 2014

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New EEOC Guidance Addresses Pregnancy Discrimination

On July 14, 2014, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released new enforcement guidance on pregnancy discrimination, expanding the protections for pregnant employees provided under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA).

The PDA, signed into law by President Carter in 1978, amended Title VII to make it unlawful as a form of sex discrimination for employers to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The PDA provided that pregnant women have a right to be treated the same as other employees who are “similar in their ability or inability to work.” It does not provide an absolute right to accommodation, but if temporarily disabled workers receive accommodations, then pregnant workers are also entitled to them. This enforcement guidance is the first comprehensive update to the PDA since 1983. Read more on the EEOC website.

DOL amends FMLA regulations

The Department of Labor (“DOL”) has developed a new poster reflecting the recently issued amended FMLA regulations.  According to the DOL website, covered employers may start using the new poster immediately, or may still use the old FMLA poster through March 7, 2013.

Please review the full FMLA compliance alert, which includes a link to the new post.