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 (email@example.com) 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).
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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.
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
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.
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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.
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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.