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NYC Initiates Ban on Salary History Requirement

On May 5th 2017, New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio passed a bill prohibiting employers from inquiring about or relying on an applicant’s salary history. Under the local law, it is now considered illegal and discriminatory for an employer, employment agency, or employee to inquire about the salary history of a prospective employee and/or to rely on the salary history of a prospective employee in determining salary, benefits, or general compensation during the hiring process. Supporters of the new legislation expect that this regulation will assist in eliminating the gender wage gap by preventing discrimination against women who may receive lower salary offers due to their salary history.

Employers, employees, and employment agencies are permitted to discuss salary, benefit, and compensation expectations including deferred compensation or unvested equity. A candidate may voluntarily disclose salary history without prompting, which would then allow employers and employment agencies to consider and verify the candidate’s salary history. Exceptions include any agreements that authorize the verification or disclosure of salary history, and any instances where knowledge of salary history is required for internal transfer or promotion. The law is scheduled to go into effect on October, 31st 2017.

Do you have questions about how this new legislation will affect your employees or business? Contact one of our HR Business Partners to have your questions answered.

Preparing for NYS Paid Family Leave

In 2016, legislation was passed in NYS to enact a 12-week Paid Family Leave (PFL) program scheduled to go into effect in January of 2018. For these purposes, a family member is defined as a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, spouse or domestic partner. The definition of a “serious health condition” is similar to the definition under the FMLA. Unless an employer chooses to permit otherwise, any PFL benefit must run concurrently with an employee’s available FMLA entitlement.

PFL will be provided through the NYS existing Disability Benefits Law (DBL) and be available to all private sector workers, giving eligible employees the right to a leave of absence and guaranteed reinstatement. Employees eligible for PFL must be employed in New York State and have 30 working days total within a calendar year for a single employer. There is no waiting period before employees can receive PFL benefits. Eligible employees may receive up to 50% of their average weekly wage during family leave, not to exceed 50% of the state average weekly wage. Eligible employees employed for at least 26 weeks with the employer (175 days for part-time employees) may use PFL for the following:

  • Caring for a family member with a serious physical/mental health condition.
  • Bonding with a new child during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or after placement of a child for adoption/ foster care.
  • Handling obligations arising from a family member’s qualifying military service or deployment as interpreted under FMLA.

Do you have questions about NYS Paid Family Leave? Contact the office to speak with one of our HR Business Partners today to have your questions answered at 631-794-7400.

Read more about PFL here: http://eepurl.com/cKgIvT

Effective January 1st, 2017: OSHA Injury & Illness Reporting

On April 3rd, 2017 President Trump signed into law House Joint Resolution 83 (H.J. Res. 83), which declares the “Volks Rule” reviewed below invalid and no longer in effect.

Effective January 1st, 2017, OSHA required employers to submit their injury and illness reports electronically so that they could be uploaded to OSHA’s website, for the public to view. Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by record keeping regulation were required to submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries, were required to submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017.

This revision was put in place with the intention of making employers, the public, and the government better informed about workplace hazards, and to encourage employers to improve workplace safety for its employees. Injury and illness reports were to be posted on job sites by February 1st.

OSHA provided a secure website that offered three options for data submission. First, users would be able to manually enter data into a webform. Second, users would be able to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. Last, users of automated recordkeeping systems would have the ability to transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface). The website was scheduled to go live in February 2017.

If you have any questions regarding current OSHA record-keeping requirements or the revoked Volks Rule above, please contact our office to speak with one of our HR business partners at 631-794-7400.

Upcoming W-2 Filing Deadline 1.31.2017

Please be advised that the deadline for filing W-2s and 1099s with the Social Security Administration is Tuesday, January 31st. Employers with 249 or less W-2s may file these forms either electronically or hard copy and employers with 250 or more W-2s must do so electronically. Employers must also provide copies of W-2s to their employees by January 31st.

If you are filing form 1099-MISC and reporting amounts in Box 7, you must file by January 31st. Otherwise the deadline remains February 28th for paper filings and March 31st for electronic filings. If you need an extension for filing W-2s, you must fill out Form 8809, Application for Extension to File Informational Return, and submit to the IRS by January 31st. If you wish to make corrections after filing a W-2, employers can file Form W-2c, Corrected Wages and Tax Statement. As an employer, it is important that your records are accurate. This includes employee information and year-end totals.

If you have any questions about W-2s, please contact our office to speak with one of our HR Business Partners at 631-794-7400.

Minimum Wage Increases for New York and New Jersey

As of December 31st, 2016 minimum wage increases went into effect for New York State. As of January 1st, 2017 minimum wage increases went into effect in the state of New Jersey along with 17 other states across the country.

New York City’s minimum wage requirements for employers with 11 or more employees must pay non-tipped employees $11.00 an hour, and tipped employees at least $8.30 or $9.35 an hour. New York City’s employers with 10 or less employees must pay non-tipped employees $10.50 an hour, and tipped employees at least $7.95 or $8.90 an hour.

Long Island and Westchester County’s minimum wage increased to $10.00 per hour for non-tipped employees, and at least $7.55 or $8.50 for tipped employees.

The remainder of New York State must pay non-tipped employees $9.70 per hour, and tipped employees at least $7.35 or $8.25 per hour.

New Jersey’s minimum wage across the state is now $8.44 per hour for all employees in hotel and motel, seasonal amusement, food service, and first processing of farm product industries.

NYC Enacts Freelance Worker Protections

The Freelance Isn’t Free Act, Effective May 15th 2017, offers protection to all New York City residents who identify as freelance workers against underpayment and undue manipulation on behalf of their employers. A Freelance Worker is defined as any person or organization of one person not otherwise incorporated or employing a trade name that is hired or retained as an independent contractor to provide services for a period of time in exchange for compensation.

The act requires all freelance work to be written under signed contract at the time a hiring party retains services worth $800.00 or more. This contract must include the names of all parties involved, the value of contracted services, the rate and method of compensation, and what date payment must be issued or what mechanism will be used to determine that date.

Non-compliance with above freelance protections can result in the following:

  • Civil and criminal penalties when payments are made later than 30 days after the project has been completed or when payment is not in accordance with the contractual agreement.
  • Once services have begun, employers may not require that the freelance employee accept less that the contracted amount in order to be paid in a timely fashion.
  • Employers will be responsible for double damages and attorney fees if and when a case goes to court.

Not sure if you’re in compliance or if any of your employees are freelancers? Call our office to speak with an HR Professional to discuss any questions or concerns at 631.794.7400.

Annual W-4 Reminder

As 2016 comes to a close, we encourage you to remind your employees to review their W-4 information and submit a revise W-4 if they have any changes. Some reasons why employees should review their W-4 information include changes in withholding allowances, marital status, home address, name and to verify their Social Security number is correct.

While employees may update their W-4 any time during the year, employees whose withholding allowances have decreased or marital status has changed from “married” to “single” must provide their employer with a new W-4 within 10 days of the change.

Employees who claimed “Exempt” in 2016 have until February 15, 2017 to file an amended W-4. If the employee fails to provide a new W-4 by February 15, the employer will either:

– Use the marital status and number of allowances found on the most recent W-4 form that was submitted before the W-4 form claiming Exemption, or

– Treat the employee as if no W-4 was submitted and use Single Status with Zero allowances.

When an amended W-4 is submitted, it is a “Best Practice” to make the change for the employee on the next scheduled payroll. However, employers must enter the changes no later than the start of the 1st payroll period ending on or after the 30th day from the date you received the revised form.

If you have any questions about W-4 forms or payroll, please contact Compass to speak with one of our HR Business Partners.

FLSA Legal Update

The Department of Labor’s Overtime rule, which was set to go into effect December 1st has been blocked by a federal judge. This new rule would have raised the minimum salary for most exempt employees to $913 per week and would have automatically adjusted the threshold every three years beginning in 2020.

For now, employers do not need to implement changes by December 1st. If you have not already made changes to reclassify employees, you may want to postpone doing so at this time. However, if you have implemented changes and raised otherwise exempt employees’ salaries to meet the proposed $913 per week, consider leaving those changes in place.

It is important to note that this decision will be appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, hence there is a chance that the judge’s ruling can be reversed.

NYC Pre-Tax Transit Benefits

NYC Pre-Tax Transit Benefits – January 2016

On October 20, 2014, the New York City Council signed the Affordable Transit Act, regulating the transit benefits for the New York City area.

Effective January 1, 2016, the law requires private employers with 20 or more full time employees to provide a pretax payroll deduction for transit benefits to their employees. For purposes of this particular ordinance, “full time employees” are those who average 30 or more hours per week. The number of full time employees is determined by taking the average number of full time employees for the last three consecutive months. Employers at or exceeding 20 full time employees will be required to comply with this ordinance.

Employees who receive this benefit remain eligible throughout the duration of their employment, regardless of any change in the number of full time employees within their work place (this includes a workforce drop below 20).

Transit Benefits will reduce the cost of transportation for employees who work within the five boroughs, and reduce employers’ payroll taxes. Public employers with employees that are exempt from federal, state, and city payroll taxes are not required to provide transit benefits by this mandate. Unionized employers are exempt unless 20 of their full time employees are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Employers have a six-month grace period to implement the new law. The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs is responsible for enforcing this law. Beginning July 1, 2016, a violation may be given to employers who fail to offer the transit benefit; this violation can range between $100 and $250. If the first violation is not remedied within 90 days, employers may face additional violations until they are in compliance.

While many employers in NYC already offer pretax transit benefits, the new local law will require that other private employers put a transit benefit program into place. Employers should assess the requirements of the benefits program, communicate with their employees and plan for payroll changes to be in compliance with the new law.

For more information visit: www.nyc.gov

Employers and business owners can contact Compass Workforce Solutions for help with compliance issues such as this and many, many more.  Speak with one of our HR Business Partners today at 631.794.7400.

New York State Minimum Wage Increase

New York State Minimum Wage Increase Effective December 31, 2015

Effective December 31, 2015 the basic minimum hourly wage will increase to $9.00 from $8.75. In the hospitality industry, the minimum wage for tipped employees increases to $7.50 with a tip allowance that meets or exceeds the basic minimum wage rate of $9.00/hour.

All employees, including hospitality workers, should be given a “Notice & Acknowledgement of Pay Rate & Payday Notice” before any change in their wages. The notices are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Haitian Creole. Employees must sign the notice and be given a copy of the notice. Employers must keep the original notice for 6 years. If you need assistance preparing the notices, please contact us.

Employers Beware: Employers who underpay their workers are required by the Department of Labor (DOL) to pay their employees the difference between the amounts already paid and the required minimum wage based on hours worked. Often, the DOL collects the funds without resorting to court action. However, an employer that violates the Minimum Wage Law is subject to criminal prosecution and penalties. Action may also be taken in civil court. The Commissioner of Labor may require an employer to pay: Minimum wage underpayments PLUS interest and civil penalties up to 200 percent of the unpaid wages.

NOTE

Currently under review is the recommendation of a separate minimum wage rate for New York City. If and when the legislature enacts a different minimum wage for New York City, employers may have to make changes accordingly.

Please be sure to contact us for an updated minimum wage poster. Remember posters should be hung in a place easily visible to employees.

Employers and business owners can contact Compass Workforce Solutions for help with compliance issues such as this and many, many more.  Speak with one of our HR Business Partners today at 631.794.7400.