Big changes are happening in the realm of workplace compliance issues and labor laws in the United States. Noncompliance with government regulations can have serious consequences—and can cost your business big time. Keep up with what's happening between the government and the workplace with the HR Compliance Tracker: your go-to place to stay updated on some major workforce compliance issues.
Treasury announces new employer tax credit for paid family and medical leave
Employers who provide paid family and medical leave to their employees in the 2018 and 2019 tax years may qualify for a new business credit. “By enhancing the benefits of this tax credit, we help empower working parents to pursue their careers while balancing their demands at home," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
If you’re setting up or updating a leave policy, a retroactive credit may also be available to employers. Generally, employees with paid family and medical leave who earned $72,000 or less in the previous year qualify for the credit.Check out this guidance to learn how to calculate the credit and the application of special rules and limitations.
EEOC Sues Stanley Black & Decker for Violating ADA
If companies with rigid attendance policies aren’t careful, they could run afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act prohibits discrimination based on disability and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Stanley Black & Decker Inc., a global diversified industrial company, when they fired an employee with cancer who took leave for medical treatments. According to the suit, the company terminated the sales representative for poor attendance in December 2016 despite her good performance. Although her absences were related to cancer treatments and testing, Stanley Black & Decker’s attendance policy doesn’t provide exceptions for people who need leave as an accommodation to their disability. The employee was fired without a final written warning.
Following the thread of blunders, the EEOC filed suit against the company for the alleged violation of the ADA. The EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson added, “This case should remind all employers that they have an obligation to make exceptions to ‘no fault’ attendance policies as a form of reasonable accommodation unless doing so would be an undue hardship.”
The EEOC’s vigilance of inflexible leave policies should encourage employers to review their company attendance policies in compliance with the disability laws.
Proposed ordinance aims to protect employees complying with evacuation orders
Last year’s hurricanes served as reminders to us all about the importance of crisis management planning complete with examples of what to do—and what not to do. Remember the Pizza Hut manager who threatened to punish employees who evacuated for too long during Hurricane Irma? Well, Pizza Hut isn’t the only one revisiting policies on how to handle employees in natural disasters. A proposed ordinance went before Miami-Dade County in Florida that would prevent employers from retaliating against employees who evacuate under county orders. Under this proposed ordinance, if a non-essential employee complies with county evacuation orders during a declared state of emergency, employers may not withhold wages, demote, or terminate the employee for not working. Penalty for noncompliance will start with a base of $500. According to the county’s code, essential employees are those who are “critical to the performance of the employee’s department or agency’s mission during disaster situations within Miami-Dade county.” This proposal also narrows the essential employees to those employed by specific employers like hospitals and health care providers, public and private utilities, and government agencies.
Other companies like Starbucks have already stepped up without ordinances to offer pay to employees who were not able to work due to evacuation. Whether or not your county prohibits retaliation against county evacuations, your company should revisit the issue. Experts expect more counties in natural disaster prone areas to follow in Miami-Dade’s footsteps.
Austin brings paid sick leave to the Lone Star State
After a 9-2 City Council vote, Austin became the first city in Texas to mandate paid sick leave for non-government employers. This ordinance will require private employers to give their workers up to 64 hours of paid sick leave. Paid sick leave hours will accrue at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Companies with 15 or fewer employees can cap their hour allotment at 48 hours. The ordinance will go into effect on October 1, 2018. Employers with five or fewer employees, often referred to as micro-businesses, will have until October 2020 to comply.
Advocates for the ordinance, like former Texas Senator and current Austin resident Wendy Davis, believe this regulation will have a “unique impact” on women and help boost morale for all workers. Critics would like to see a paid sick leave ordinance that could offer benefits to a wider range of businesses in the community. This ordinance is part of a larger trend in the U.S. with nine states and the District of Columbia having already regulated paid sick leave, and many more cities following suit. HR professionals should stay familiar with legislative proceedings at their city and state levels.
OSHA announces filing extension for recordkeeping rule under new electronic reporting system
Employers will now have an additional two weeks to file electronic illness and injury forms under the OSHA recordkeeping rule. On November 22, 2017, OSHA extended the deadline for submitting electronic illness and injury reports from December 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017.
OSHA stated in a news release that the extension will “allow affected employers additional time to become familiar with a new electronic reporting system launched on August 1, 2017.” The release also notes that OSHA is “currently reviewing the other provisions of its final rule to Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, and intends to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking to reconsider, revise, or remove portions of that rule in 2018.”