Before a Closing or Layoff, WARN Your Employees

Were you aware that before closing a plant or laying off a large number of employees you may be required to provide advance notice to the affected employees? Many employers are not aware of this requirement.  The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires that some usdol_seal_circa_2015_svgemployers give employees at least 60 days’ advance notice prior to certain plant closings and mass layoffs.

Employers with 100 or more employees must comply with the WARN Act.  The 100 employee count does not include employees who have worked less than 6 months in the last 12 months or those employees who work less than 20 hours per week. It’s important to note that even though these employees are not included in the employee count, they still must be provided notification at least 60 days before a plant closing or mass layoff. Continue reading

New Overtime Rule Halted by Federal Judge

In a surprising move, the new overtime rule, scheduled to raise the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees on December 1, 2016, has been blocked by Texas Judge Amos L. Mazzant III just ten days before the scheduled effective date.

After the new rule was announced, usdol_seal_circa_2015_svg21 states filed a lawsuit against the Department of Labor. The case was consolidated with another lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups which also objected to the new regulation.

Even after the lawsuits were filed and consolidated, it was not expected that a decision would be made prior the December 1st effective date.  Many are surprised by the decision made by Judge Mazzant who was appointed by President Obama.

The decision to block the rule, a preliminary injunction, doesn’t completely eliminate the rule, but rather delays the implementation until the court has a chance to further review whether the Department of Labor exceeded its authority by raising the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees too high.  There is a chance, especially after president-elect Donald Trump takes office, that the rule could be overhauled or eliminated completely, but employers should prepare for the chance that the rule is implemented in the future.

At this time, and until further notice, the minimum salary for exempt employees will remain at $455 per week instead of changing to the scheduled $913 per week on December 1st.

Can Employees Be Paid Salary to Avoid Paid Overtime? Understanding the FLSA Exemptions

usdol_seal_circa_2015_svgCan Employees Be Paid Salary to Avoid Paying Overtime?

This is a common question employers have – and not understanding the rules regarding exempt and non-exempt status, established by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), can land employers in hot water if employees are misclassified.

With the impending changes to the minimum salary threshold for exempt employees (Read more about that here!), this is a great opportunity for employers to review all current exempt and salary employees to make sure they are properly classified.

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New Salary Threshold for Exempt Employees

UPDATE: November 22, 2016 – A federal judge has delayed the new overtime rule. At this time it is not known how long the rule will be delayed or if the new rule will be enforced at all in the future.  The minimum salary threshold for exempt employees will remain at $455 per week until further notice.

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The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued the much anticipated final rules regarding overtime for salary employees.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the minimum pay for exempt employees is currently $455 per week (or $23,660 per year). Under the new rule, effective December 1, 2016, the minimum pay will increase to $913 per week (or $47,476 per year). The salary threshold will automatically be updated every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020, based on average wage growth.

An added provision of the new rule is the ability for employers to include nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments, including commissions, up to 10 percent of gross wages, to meet the minimum salary requirements. For example, if an employee is paid $44,000 base salary and receives a bonus of $4,000 per year (less than 10% of their gross annual salary), they could still be considered exempt under the new rule because their total compensation ($48,000) is higher than the new salary threshold.

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Plan Ahead for Changes to Overtime Pay Rules

1428638_61478545It’s been about six months since the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Wage and Hour Division issued its proposed updated on overtime rules. Specifically, the agency has suggested revisions to the definition of which employees are exempt from overtime pay requirements and which are not (referred to as the “white collar exemption”).

the proposal elicited 264,093 responses during the two-month comment period. There’s no way to know how much, if any, of this feedback will find its way into the final rules, which should go into effect sometime next year. So it’s prudent to plan ahead.

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What Happens If There is a Breakdown of COBRA Compliance?

At some companies, there may not be a well established system in place for handling the tasks necessary to comply with COBRA. Here’s a brief overview of COBRA as well as a question from a concerned employer about the implications of not complying, along with a detailed answer.

COBRA Basics
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives eligible workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits for limited periods of time under certain circumstances. The life events that enable an individual to become eligible for COBRA include voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death and divorce. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan. — The U.S. Department of Labor

Question: Our company sponsors a group health plan for its employees. What are the consequences if we fail to comply with COBRA?

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New Independent Contractor Classification Guidance Released by Department of Labor

T1431598_76841211oday the Department of Labor (DOL) released a memo regarding classification of employees and independent contractors.  This memo is meant to provide some clarification as to when a worker should be classified as an employee and when they’re considered an independent contractor.  There is no change to the law at this time.

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