“Off-the-clock” work has become an ever increasing concern for employers in the past few years as the use of smartphones has permeated into all areas of our lives, including work. The U.S. Department of Labor’s release of its Final Rule revising the “white collar” exemptions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) has only served to make this issue even more significant.
As reported in this blog, the Final Rule doubles the minimum salary threshold level for an employee to qualify as exempt from overtime and thus will dramatically increase the number of workers who will now receive overtime pay, resulting in a significant additional financial burden for employers. Thus, as an employer, the last thing you want to do now is to inadvertently increase your overtime costs even more. As a result, employers need to seriously consider reviewing their current practices regarding employee use of smartphones during non-working hours. Continue reading
As of July 1, both Maryland’s and the District of Columbia will increase the minimum wage. Maryland’s minimum wage will increase to $8.75 per hour while the District of Columbia’s will increase to $11.50 per hour. Employers should be prepared to implement these changes on July 1 to avoid wage complaints and make the appropriate changes to their business models to remain competitive.
The raise in the Maryland minimum wage is a result of legislation that was passed in May of 2014. The Maryland Minimum Wage Act of 2014 calls for the minimum wage to ultimately be raised to $10.10 per hour by July of 2018. The raise that will go into effect in less than two weeks is a .50 cent increase from the current $8.25 minimum wage. Although the minimum wage is set to increase, there is no increase in the amount employers are required to pay tipped employees. Therefore, employees receiving over $30 per month in tips only need to be paid $3.63 per hour, and the remainder may be supplemented by the tip credit.
Employers in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, Maryland, the two counties neighboring the Washington, D.C. area, should also take note that the counties Continue reading
As we transition into 2016, it is essential that employers are aware of and plan for changes to employee wage requirements and the increased emphasis on wage and hour compliance. For at least the past decade, the number of wage and hour claims filed in federal courts has increased exponentially and 2016 looks like it will be much of the same with fuel for a significant rise. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2000, employees filed only 1,935 claims for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. At the end of FY 2014, that number had increased by more than 420% to 8,160 wage and hour lawsuits filed in federal court. In FY 2015, the trend continued with 8,781 wage and hour cases based on data released by a national law firm from the Federal Judicial Center. This represents a 7.6% rise in these types of suits from 2014. With employees filing wage and hour claims on a much more frequent basis, compliance is of even greater importance and 2016 looks to present some additional challenges on that front.
An Increasing Minimum Wage
Last year, many employers saw an increase in the required minimum wage at the state level, as well as a rise at the federal level for federal contractors. For many states and federal contractors, 2016 will bring another round of higher minimum wages. Continue reading
2015 has been a busy year for government agencies in terms of Labor & Employment Rulemaking, and this trend will only continue into the New Year. Thus, as the holiday season swings into full gear and the end of 2015 is right around the corner, we want to take this opportunity update you on important Labor & Employment regulations rules that are set to be released in the coming months.
Rules issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division
- Revisions to Overtime Regulation. As we have previously explained here, the Wage & Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released proposed regulations that will dramatically expand the number of workers who could be eligible for overtime. Specifically, the WHD has proposed raising the minimum salary threshold for employees to be exempt from overtime from the current level of $455 per week to $970 per week, or $50,440 per year. In addition, the WHD is considering whether it should modify the existing “duties” test in order for a worker to be exempt from overtime. There have been nearly a quarter of a million comments submitted to the WHD regarding these new regulations. It is currently anticipated that the WHD will issue its final regulations in the summer of 2016.
- Impact of the Use of Electronic Devices by Nonexempt Employees on Hours Worked. The DOL plans to issue a Request for Information (RFI) to gather information about employees’ use of electronic devices to perform work outside of regularly scheduled work hours and away from the workplace, as well as information regarding last minute scheduling practices being utilized by some employers that are made possible in large part by employees’ use of these devices. While this is not intended to become an actual rule at this time, the information gathered may be used to support some form of guidance in conjunction with the overtime regulation. The RFI is expected that to be issued in February 2016.
- Regulations Requiring Federal Contractors to Provide Paid Sick Leave. Executive Order 13706 requires federal contractors and all levels of subcontractors to provide paid sick leave at the rate of one hour per every 30 hours worked, up to 7 days annually. Contractors include any company merely leasing space from the federal government such as a day care center in a federal office building. The Executive Order specifies the purposes for which this leave must be available, which include both the employee’s health and those of their family. The terms of when this leave can be used are taken directly from the Healthy Families Act, including making the leave available to deal with domestic violence. It is anticipated that a proposed regulation implementing this Executive Order will be issued in February 2016.