HR UPDATE


KEEPING YOU CURRENT.

Does #MeToo Affect You?

What now?

Unlawful harassment has been a long-time problem in the workplace but has gained visibility in recent months, due to the #MeToo campaign. Victims of sexual harassment are speaking out and many companies are now forced to deal with these issues, publicly. As more and more news are surfacing of celebrities and business leaders being called out for alleged inappropriate behavior and in many cases, being forced to step down or be fired, many companies are taking this time to review their unlawful harassment policy.  Companies need to proactively address inappropriate behavior and end it quickly.

What should employers do next?

1.       Employers need to review their unlawful harassment policy and consider whether the reporting mechanisms and anti-retaliation precautions are effective.  In reviewing the policy, employers will want to consider and ensure that their policy is meeting the legal requirements (i.e. confidentiality)

2.      Employers should review and analyze their past and current complaint cases in order to identify trends, such as: 1) the company’s response time and 2) the effectiveness of the company’s response in stopping the behavior.

3.       Employers need to consider if more training is needed, not just for managers/supervisors, but for all staff. They should also consider whether the content of the training needs to be updated.

4.      Workplace culture and how management identifies and prevents harassment is key to achieving a successful unlawful harassment policy.  Companies want to educate their leaders on how to best and proactively promote a workplace that is free from harassment.

For additional information, please contact CPEHR.


Minimum Wage Increases

State by State

STATE BY STATE MINIMUM WAGE INCREASES

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  Beginning January 1, 2018, numerous states and localities will raise their own minimum wages. 

Alabama: $7.25

Alaska: $9.84

Arizona: $10.50

·         Flagstaff: $11.00

Arkansas: $8.50

California: $10.50 for small companies with 25 employees or less; $11.00 for companies more than 25 employees.

·         Berkeley: $15.00 October 1, 2018

·         Cupertino: $13.50

·         El Cerrito: $13.60

·         Emeryville: $15.00 July 1, 2018 for small companies with 55 employees or less; $15.60 July 1, 2018 for companies with more than 55 employees

·         Los Altos: $13.50

·         Los Angeles City & County (unincorporated):  $12.00 for small companies with 25 employees or less; $13.25 July 1, 2018 for companies with more than 25 employees

·         Malibu: $12.00 for small companies with 25 employees or less; $13.25 July 1, 2018 for companies with more than 25 employees

·         Mountain View: $15.00

·         Oakland: $13.23

·         Palo Alto: $13.50

·         Pasadena: $12.00 for small companies with 25 employees or less; $13.25 July 1, 2017 for companies with more than 25 employees

·         Richmond: $13.41

·         San Diego: TBA

·         San Francisco: $15.00 July 1, 2018

·         San Leandro: $13.00 July 1, 2018

·         San Mateo: $13.50; $12.00 for non-profit organizations

·         Santa Clara: $13.00

·         Santa Monica: $12.00 for small companies with 25 employees or less; $13.25 July 1, 2017 for companies with more than 25 employees

·         Sunnyvale: $15.00

*For employers with 25+ employees, salary exempt employees must make a minimum of $45,760. Minimum salary for computer professionals is $90,790.07. Minimum hourly rate for computer professionals who may be exempt from overtime laws is $43.58.

Colorado: $10.20

Connecticut: $10.10

Delaware: $8.25

Florida: $8.25

Georgia: $7.25

Hawaii: $10.10

Idaho: $7.25

Illinois: $8.25

·         Chicago: $12.00 July 1, 2018

·         Cook County: $11.00 July 1, 2018

Indiana: $7.25

Iowa: $7.25      

Kansas: $7.25

Kentucky: $7.25

Maine: $10.00

·         Portland: TBA July 1, 2018

Maryland: $9.25

·         Montgomery County: $11.50

·         Prince George’s County: $11.50

Massachusetts: $11.00 

Michigan: $9.25

Minnesota:  $7.87 for small companies with annual gross revenue less than $500k; $9.65 for large companies with annual gross revenue $500k or more

·         Minneapolis: $10.00 for companies with 101+ employees

Mississippi: $7.25

Missouri: $7.85

Montana: $8.30 

Nebraska: $9.00 

Nevada: $7.25 for employees who receive qualifying health benefits, $8.25 for employees who do not receive qualifying health benefits

New Hampshire: $7.25

New Jersey: $8.44 

New Mexico: $7.50

·         Albuquerque: $7.95 for employees who receive qualifying health benefits, $8.95 for employees who do not receive qualifying health benefits

·         Bernalillo County: $7.85 employers provide health benefits, $8.85 for employees who do not provide health benefits

·         Las Cruces: $9.20

·         Santa Fe City & County: TBA

New York: $10.40 December 31, 2017

·         Fast Food Companies: $11.75 December 31, 2017

·         Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties: $11.00 December 31, 2017

·         New York City: $12.00 December 31, 2017 for companies with 10 employees or less, $13.00 December 31, 2017 for companies with more than 10 employees

·         New York City: $13.50 December 31, 2017 for fast food companies

North Carolina: $7.25

North Dakota: $7.25

Ohio: $8.30

Oklahoma: $7.25

Oregon: $10.50 July 1, 2018

·         Portland Metro: $12.00 July 1, 2018

·         Standard Counties: $10.75 July 1, 2018

Pennsylvania: $7.25

Rhode Island: $10.10 

South Carolina: $7.25

South Dakota: $8.85 

Tennessee: $7.25

Texas: $7.25

Utah: $7.25

Vermont: $10.50

Virginia: $7.25

Washington: $11.50

·         SeaTac: $15.64

·         Seattle: $11.50 for employees who receive qualifying health benefits in companies with 500 employees or less; $14.00 for employees who do not receive qualifying health benefits in companies with 500 employees or less; $15.00 for employees who receive qualifying health benefits in companies with over 500 employees; $15.45 for employees who do not receive qualifying health benefits in companies with over 500 employees.

·         Tacoma: $12.00

Washington D.C.: $12.50

West Virginia: $8.75

Wisconsin: $7.25

Wyoming: $7.25

Employment Legislation

California Passes Two Key Legislations Addressing Pay Equities and Fair Chance Hiring – AB 168 and AB 1008

California joins more and more states and local municipalities on banning inquiries into an applicants’ salary and criminal history.  Gender pay equity has been a hot topic, nationally and in California, over the past few years.  In 2015, Governor Brown signed legislation to strengthen the California Equal Pay Act, requiring equal pay for not just comparable work but for “substantially similar” work.  Nationally, 29 states and over 150 cities and counties have already passed legislation that restricts employers from considering criminal conviction history. Thereby forcing employers to consider an applicant’s qualifications, first without the stigma of a criminal record. Previously, San Francisco and Los Angeles had adopted their own local ordinances, prohibiting criminal history inquiries on employment applications.  The trend of this local legislation laid the groundwork to the state-level legislation that was presented to the Governor.

On October 12, 2017, Governor Brown signed AB 168 which prohibits salary history inquires on employment applications.  Two days later on October 14, 2017, Governor Brown signed AB 1008, which prohibits criminal history inquiries on employment applications, commonly known as ‘ban the box’ law. While previously, only some localities had these types of laws in place, now, effective January 1, 2018, the entire state of California will be subject and impacted by the new requirements.

Salary History Ban

AB 168 makes it illegal for employers to seek salary history information, orally or in writing on a job application. In addition, it prohibits employers from relying on salary history information as a factor to determine whether or not to offer employment or the amount of salary to offer an applicant.  AB 168 does not prohibit an applicant from discussing his/her salary history with the prospective employer, “voluntarily and without prompting.”  If an applicant does voluntarily disclose salary history information, it would be the employer’s choice to use that information in determining the salary to offer an applicant.  The bill also requires employers, upon reasonable request, to provide pay scale information to any person that is applying for employment.

Criminal History Ban

AB 1008 will make it illegal for employers to inquire about and consider the conviction history of an applicant, prior to a conditional offer of employment.  Employers will not be able to ask questions on applications and/or during the interview process about conviction history, until an offer of employment is made.  (This includes background checks that would reveal conviction history.) 

If after an employment offer is made, an employer decides to deny employment solely or in part because of the applicant’s conviction history, the employer must then go through a specified process.  Local ordinances refer to this as the “fair chance” process. 

What is this “fair chance” process? First, employers must make an individualized assessment of whether or not the past criminal conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific duties of the job. In making the assessment, the employer is required to consider 1) the nature and gravity of the offense or conduct, 2) the time that has passed since the offense or conduct and completion of the sentence, and 3) the nature of the job.  Then, once the employer makes a decision that disqualifies the applicant for employment, based on the criminal conviction, the employer must notify the applicant in writing before the employer may make a final decision.  The notification must include: 1) the notice that a conviction is the basis for the disqualifying decision, 2) a copy of the conviction history, and 3) an explanation of the applicant’s right to respond before the deadline.  The applicant has at least five days to respond and provide additional information, such as evidence of rehabilitation for example to the employer.  If the applicant responds with a notice to the employer, disputing the information and indicates that he/she will be obtaining evidence to support the assertion, the applicant has an additional five days to respond. Finally, if after receiving all of the information from the applicant the employer decides to deny employment, they must then notify the applicant in writing.  This notice must include 1) the final decision to disqualify the candidate, 2) any existing procedure the applicant has to challenge the final decision or request reconsideration, and 3) the right to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

What Should Employers Do Next?

Employers should carefully review their employment applications and hiring processes.  Employment applications should be amended to remove any inquiries into salary and criminal history.  All staff who are involved in the hiring process should be trained on these new requirements, as it may change the questions they are currently asking of prospective applicants.  Employers that rely on criminal history information as a basis for disqualifying applicants will need to understand how the individualized assessments and the employee notice requirements process works. AB 1008 does not supersede any local ordinances that are already in place.

For more information on AB 168, AB 1008, and other state legislation, please contact  CPEHR.

California

Legislation

The following is a summary of key legislation that has passed, recently (including those mentioned in the previous article). Unless otherwise noted, all new legislation is effective January 1, 2018.

AB 1978 – Property Service Workers Protection Act.

Establishes various requirements for the janitorial industry, including registering annually with the DLSE and providing janitorial employees with sexual harassment training.  Although this bill was passed in September 2016, it does not become effective to July 1, 2018.

AB450 – Immigration Worksite Enforcement.

Requires employers to 1) obtain warrants and subpoenas from federal immigration agents, before granting them access to nonpublic areas of the worksite or permitting them to inspect certain employee records, 2) notify workers and their labor unions about an ICE enforcement activity within 72 hours of receiving notice of the inspection,  3) provide each current, affected employee and the employee's authorized representative with the results of an inspection within 72 hours of receiving such information from ICE, and 4) pay penalties of between $2,000 and $10,000 for violations.

AB 168 – Salary History.

Bans salary history questions on employment applications and require employers to provide applicants with pay scales for positions, upon “reasonable request”.

AB 1008 – Criminal History.

Bans criminal history on employment applications for employers with 5+ employees.  The bill is similar to the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative that was passed last year. If an offer is rescinded due to the criminal background check, applicants have 5 days to respond to the employer’s notice of intent to withdraw the offer.

AB 1701 – Construction Contractors

Makes certain contractors liable for unpaid wages, benefits, or contributions owed by subcontractors.

SB 63 – Parental Leave.

Requires small employers (20 to 49 employees) to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for new parents for baby-bonding within the first year. Employee eligibility remains 1 year and 1250 hours worked.

SB 258 – Workplace Safety: Cleaning Product Data

Mandates employers that are required to maintain safety data sheets to also make information available about certain consumer cleaning products.

SB 306 – DLSE Enforcement Actions.

Among other things, this bill allows an employee or the Labor Commissioner to obtain a preliminary injunction (ordering the employee to be reinstated, pending their retaliation claim) upon a mere showing of "reasonable cause" that a violation of the law occurred. Employers may be forced to put an employee back to work, pending the two or three years it can take to litigate a claim that an employee was subject to unlawful retaliation.

SB 396 – Anti-harassment Training.

Requires employers (50+ employees) to include training, addressing harassment, based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. Employers will be required to post transgender rights notices. Also, farm labor contractors will now be required to provide training, not just for supervisors, but for all staff and conduct it in a language understood by the employees.

AB 260 – Human Trafficking Posting Requirements.

Extends the current law, requiring certain employers (i.e. alcohol retailers, airports, emergency rooms, and adult or sexually-orientated business) to post notices, concerning human trafficking and the hotlines that are available. The legislation will be extended to include hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns.

San Francisco, CA

Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance

Requires employers to provide a “lactation location” that is safe, clean, free of toxic or hazardous materials, contains a surface upon which to place the breast pump and personal items, contains a place to sit, and has access to electricity.

Parity in Pay Ordinance

Bans employers from asking for salary history on employment applications and makes it illegal for employers to disclose salary information about a current or former employee without written consent.  Effective July 1, 2018.

Legislation in Other States

The following is a summary of all key legislation that has passed, recently. Unless otherwise noted, all new legislation is effective January 1, 2018.

Delaware

HB 1 – Salary History

Prohibits employers from screening applicants, based on pay history and from seeking an applicant’s compensation history from current or former employers. Effective December 14, 2017.

Illinois

SB 318 – Anti-discrimination: Genetic Information

Prohibits employers from penalizing employees, who refuse to disclose genetic information.

SB 198 – Protected Time Off: Volunteer Emergency Responders

Prohibits employers from disciplining an employee who responds to an emergency call or text during work hours, when his or her volunteer emergency services are needed.

Chicago

“Hands Off Pants On” Ordinance

Requires all hotels in the city of Chicago to adopt a “panic button system” and an anti-sexual harassment policy to protect employees from guests.  Hotel are required to equip all employees who work alone in guest rooms or restrooms with a “panic button” or other notification device.  The device is designed to alert and summon hotel security or management for help in the event the employee reasonably believes that an ongoing crime, sexual harassment, sexual assault or other emergency is occurring during the employee’s presence.  The devices must be provided at no cost to employees by July 1, 2018.  The anti-harassment policy must comply with the ordinance by January 7, 2018.

Maine

LD 88 – Marijuana Legalization

Delays the implementation of the Marijuana Legalization Act until February 1, 2018.

LD1477 – Anti-harassment Training

Requires employers to use a compliance checklist from the state agency to develop their sexual harassment training programs. Effective November 1, 2017.

Massachusetts

SB 2119 – Equal Pay

Prohibits employers from paying a lower rate than paid to employees of a different gender for comparable work.  It also bans salary history inquiries and prohibits employers from restricting employees from sharing wage information.

SB 3680 – Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Requires employers of 6+ employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for pregnancy and related conditions. Effective April 1, 2018.

Nevada

SB 361 – Domestic Violence Leave

Requires employers to provide leave to eligible employees who are (or whose family or household members are) victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. 

New York

SB 6406 and AB A9006C - Paid Family Leave

Requires employers to provide job-protected, paid leave to employees to bond with a new child, care for a loved one with a serious health condition, or to help relieve family pressures when a family member is called to active military service.  Paid Family Leave coverage is funded by employee payroll contributions.

New York City, NY

Protected Time Off: Paid Safe Time

Expands the City’s paid sick requirements to cover “safe time” to include if an employees or family members that are victims of a sexual offense or stalking.  Effective May 5, 2018.

Oregon

SB 299 – Amends Oregon Sick Leave Law

Amends the current sick leave law to allow an annual accrual cap of 40 hours/year. Employers can limit an employee’s sick leave bank to 80 hours (40 hours of sick leave annually accrued and 40 hours of carryover sick leave).

SB 828 – Fair Work Week Ordinance

Employers in the retail, food and hospitality industry with 500+ employees, must provide at least one-week notice to the employee of their work schedule.  Employers must provide a rest period of at least 10 hours between shifts unless an employee consent to work during this rest period, in which case the employer must pay the employee one-and-a-half times the employee’s normal rate of pay. Effective July 1, 2018.

HB 3458 – Overtime Laws for Manufacturing Sector

Employers in the manufacturing sector will be require to pay employees the greater of daily or weekly overtime if an employee works more than 10 hours in a single day and more than 40 hours total in the course of a single workweek.  The law also sets a firm 55-hour weekly limit for most manufacturing-sector employees.

Rhode Island

HB 5413 and SB 290 – Health and Safe Families and Workplace Act

Requires employers with 18+ employees to provide paid sick leave. Effective July 1, 2018.

Vermont

HB 136 – Pregnancy Accommodations

Makes it unlawful for employers to refuse to provide reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy-related condition, absent undue hardship.

HB 462 – Privacy: Social Media Accounts

Prohibits employers from requiring or requesting that employees or applicants disclose personal, social medial account information (including usernames), access an account in the employer’s presence, change account privacy settings, etc.

Washington

Protected Time Off: Paid Sick Leave

Entitles all employees to accrue paid sick leave at a rate of 1 hour per 40 hours worked.

Seattle: Paid Sick Leave

Amends the current sick leave law. Key changes: 1) leave law applies to all employers, 2) no more caps on use, 3) new definition of “family”, and 4) waiting period reduced to 90-days.

HEALTH CARE REFORM


2018 Update


During the 2017 year, the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) continued to be a hot topic issue for employers. President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress spent most of the year trying to repeal the Act without success.  The President did however, issue the Promoting Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States Executive Order (AHP Executive Order) in late October, hoping to at least make some changes to the current Act.

The AHP Executive Order focused on 3 components: 1) Expanding the availability of Association Health Plans. 2) Expanding Short-Term Limited Duration Insurances. 3) Expanding Health Reimbursement Arrangements. As details are being finalized by the various agencies, the IRS continues to utilize the current ACA requirements.

What’s next?

Employers still need to meet the IRS reporting requirements.  Individual tax returns must still include healthcare coverage. The IRS is slowly, but surely enforcing the employer mandate and has begun to issue notices of assessment (IRS Letter 226J). 

These notices are sent to employers who the IRS believes may owe penalties for not complying with the ACA employer mandate in 2015.

Employers who received the IRS Letter 226J will have 30 days to respond prior to officially being assessed the liability and demand for payment.  When determining penalties, the IRS considers the information on Form 1094-C, Form 1095-C, and any information regarding full-time employees receiving a premium tax credit.

This is an important reminder for employers that during open enrollment time, they should be collecting signed, employee waiver forms.

For additional information, please contact CPEHR.

Tax Updates 2018

FEDERAL


FICA (Social Security)


Maximum Taxable Earnings

$128,700 ($1,500 increase from 2017)

Employer/Employee 2018 Withholding Percent

 6.2%

Employer/Employee 2018 Maximum Withholding  

$7,979.40

($93.40 increase from 2017)



FICA (Medicare)


Maximum Taxable Earnings

No Limit   

Employer/Employee 2018 Withholding Percentage

1.45%

Employer/Employee 2018 Maximum Withholding

No Limit.

(No change from 2017)

Additional Medicare Tax for Wages in Excess of $200,000, Rate 0.9% is required to be deducted by Employers





SUPPLEMENTAL WAGES


Rate (flat rate withholding method)

25%

Over $1 million

39.6%

(No change from 2017)

WITHHOLDING


The 2018 withholding tables have not been finalized, as congress has not yet

finalized their decision on whether to adjust the tax rates.  Any changes in the withholding tables will be communicated once they have been announced. 

401(k) PLAN DEFERRAL LIMITATIONS


Elective Deferrals

$18,500

($500 increase from 2017)

401K Catch Up Contribution Deferrals

$6,000 

(No change from 2017)



HSA PLAN DEFERRAL LIMITATIONS


Individual Maximum Contribution (Includes Employer Contribution)

$3,450 

($50 increase from 2017)

Family Maximum Contribution (Includes Employer Contribution)

$6,900 

(No change from 2017)

Catch Up Contributions (55+ years old)

$1,000

(No change from 2017)




FSA PLAN THRESHOLDS


Health Max Election

$2,650  

($50 increase from 2017)

Dependent Care Max Election

$5,000 

(No change from 2017)




TRANSPORTATION THRESHOLDS


Pre-tax Parking Max Election

$260/month 

($50 increase from 2017)

Mass Transit Max Election

$260/month 

($5.00 increase from 2017)




 

Need help navigating your HR?

Contact CPEHR Today

This information is intended to provide an overview of some important employment law updates within the United States. It is not intended to be an exhausted list of legislation and/or legal advice for any specific situation or set of facts. Whenever you are dealing with any employment-related situation it is always a good idea to seek the advice of a CPEHR Human Resources Representative or competent legal counsel.