The past year, the past decade, has proven to be monumental in updates and changes to employment and labor law. Most recently, improvements in pay equity, the #MeToo movement, modifications to EEO law, and long-awaited implementations to sick and medical leave laws have created positive changes for employees and employers alike.
What do we now have to look for and anticipate in the upcoming year? Here is a short list of what the start of this new decade hold for us as employers in this rapidly changing employment world (particularly at the Federal level, and for those employers on the West coast):
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Final Overtime Ruling – Effective January 1, 2020, the new salary threshold for exempt employees has been raised from $455 a week to $684 a week (or $35,568 annually).
- Tip Sharing Rules – Again on the docket, towards the end of 2019, the DOL announced a new, proposed rule that would make it easier for employees to engage in “tip pooling”, a practice in which employees who receive minimum wage and customarily receive tips share those tips with “back of house” employees (e.g., cooks, dishwashers, etc.) who are not usually tipped.
- California Assembly Bill 5 – Effective January 1, 2020, this new law will require companies to reclassify some of their independent contractors as employees. To maintain current classifications, independent contractors must meet a new set of established criteria. Additionally, certain professions are commonly exempt from this change, including physicians, lawyers, real estate agents, and engineers. This change will require employers to provide paid time off, overtime compensation, health benefits, etc.
- Oregon’s Employer Accommodation for Pregnancy Act – Oregon’s Fair Employment Practices Act will be expanded on January 1, 2020 to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees who are employed at organizations with 6 or more employees. Reasonable accommodations may include changes to schedules, equipment, working assignments, etc. While already prohibited from pregnancy discrimination, employers are additionally prohibited from denying employment opportunities or taking adverse employment actions, failing or refusing to make reasonable accommodations, requiring an applicant or employee to accept an unnecessary accommodation, or requiring an employee to take family or any other leave if a reasonable accommodation can be made.
- Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave – Starting January 1, 2020, employees in Washington will be entitled to take up to 18 weeks of paid family and medical leave each year. Washington state is the fifth state in the U.S. to implement such legislation.
HRCentral will keep our clients and colleagues updated on final rulings to pending legislation that will directly affect their organizations and employees. Please contact us with any questions regarding these updates, or to make any necessary updates to your employment policies and documentation.
As always, at the end of each year it is important to take a look at what the upcoming year will hold with regards to changes to employment and labor law, particularly those that will directly affect your organization and your employees. In 2020, there are a number of state and federal changes that will be taking place that the many employers will be impacted by.
The biggest change that will hit employers in virtually any industry or location, and will apply regardless of the size of the organization, is the long-awaited update to the federal exempt salary threshold for exempt employees. After years of debate on the topic, the Department of Labor released their final ruling on September 24, 2019, announcing an increase to the salary-level thresholds for white-collar exemptions.
Here are some things you need to know about this change:
- Takes effect on January 1, 2020.
- The salary threshold for professional, administrative, and executive exempts will raise from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $684 per week ($35,568 annually).
- Also applies to those who fall under the “computer employee” exemption.
- The DOL has elected to permit employers to use incentive bonuses, commissions, and non-discretionary bonuses to satisfy up to 10% of the salary threshold for these exemptions.
- The threshold for highly compensated employees has been raised from $100,000 to $107,432 annually.
- The duties test has remained the same from the requirements in recent years.
Employers are strongly encouraged to review the FLSA classifications of their employees prior to the end of the year and should be prepared to make any necessary changes to job descriptions, exempt classifications, and salaries as needed to ensure compliance with the new ruling.
HRCentral will contact our affected clients and colleagues to assist with any changes necessary for a smooth transition, in addition to discussing changes related to any state-specific updates that will hit at the start of the new year (e.g., changes to family and medical leaves, independent contractor statuses, and minimum wage increases).
Contact HRCentral today if you have any questions regarding this new rule, or if you need any assistance updating your policies or procedures accordingly for compliance, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800.574.3282.
Even though we have roughly two and a half months left of 2019, adequately preparing for changes that are bound to hit your organization in advance can save you a lot of hassle as the end of the year starts to creep up on us. As we all work on tying up lose ends and prepare to close the door on 2019, it is time to look ahead to a new year (a new decade!) and determine what we can do to ensure that 2020 begins in the most efficient and productive manner possible:
- Review Internal Policies and Procedures – Both HR and Management can participate in this annual review of what policies are outdated and need a refresh, and what procedures need some tweaking to match the culture and processes of the organization. Take stock of the last year and determine what worked and what didn’t, and plan to collaborate on how to effectively renew and implement these processes.
- Review HR-Related Documents and Systems – Predominantly the role of HR, similarly to how you would review internal policies and procedures, take a look at forms and documents and HR systems (e.g. leave administration and tracking, EEO tracking and reporting, vacation scheduling, etc.) and see what tweaks can be made to ensure everything is working as seamlessly and proficiently as possibly, both for the employee and for HR and management on the back end.
- Review Operational Functions – A task that generally requires the buy in from management and possibly from your employees (such as receiving feedback from a focus group), review operational functions and performance to determine what, if anything, needs to be modified to make certain your clients and customers receive the best service possible, and that everything runs smoothly behind the scenes.
- Prepare for Goal Setting – As we complete our goals from the past year, take a look ahead and honestly think about what you want to accomplish in 2020. With a fresh start and a chance to work with a clean slate, be proactive in your goal setting preparation and being brainstorming your personal and professional objectives and what you need to do to get there.
In addition to all of these preemptive approaches to the new year, there are a number of employment and labor law changes that will hit at the federal and state level. Follow along in our next post as we address some of these changes (including the long overdue update to the exempt salary threshold) and provide you with tips on a smooth transition and implementation process.
Contact us today for assistance in any of these categories. HRCentral specializes in helping organizations streamline and update processes, policies, and procedures to ensure maximum benefit to the employee and employer.