Veteran’s Day a Required Day Off in Some States

Veteran’s Day, a day to commemorate and honor those who have served in our nation’s military in the past and present, is November 11. It dates back to 1918 when the fighting ceased on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month during World War I. For this reason, November 11, 1918 is largely considered the end of the war “to end all wars.” It was in November 1919 that President Wilson declared November 11 as the first Armistice Day. In a speech he stated, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…” It was generally celebrated with parades and cessation in business beginning at 11:00 am.

However, much has changed since November 1919. Through the hustle and bustle of modern-day business, it has caused much confusion about how employers should observe Veteran’s Day and what legal obligations they have. In Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Oregon employers may be required to provide veterans a day off if they are normally scheduled. Continue reading

2017 Minimum Wage Changes

Many states will be increasing their minimum wage in 2017.  Check the list below to make sure you are in compliance in all states which you have employees.  Most of these changes are effective January 1, 2017 unless otherwise indicated.

  • Alaska: $9.80
  • Arizona: $10.00
  • Arkansas: $8.50
  • California: $10.50 (employers with 25 or less employees will remain at $10)
  • Colorado: $9.30
  • Connecticut: $10.10
  • District of Columbia: $12.50 (effective July 1, 2017) ($3.33 for tipped employees)
  • Florida: $8.10 ($5.08 for tipped employees)
  • Hawaii: $9.25
  • Maine: $9.00 (effective January 7, 2017)
  • Maryland: $9.25 (effective July 1, 2017)
  • Massachusetts: $11.00 ($3.75 for tipped employees)
  • Michigan: $8.90 ($3.38 for tipped employees)
  • Missouri: $7.70 ($3.85 for tipped employees)
  • Montana: $8.15
  • New Jersey: $8.44
  • New York: $9.70 (effective December 31, 2016) ($11.00 for employers in NYC with 11 or more employees; $10.50 for employees in NYC with 10 or fewer employees; $10.00 for Long Island and Westchester, $10.75 for fast food employees outside of NYC; $12.00 for fast food employees in NYC)
  • Ohio: $8.15
  • Oregon: $10.25 (effective July 1, 2017)
  • Rhode Island: $3.89 for tipped employees (non-tipped employees have no change, remains at $9.60)
  • South Dakota: $8.65 ($4.325 for tipped employees)
  • Vermont: $10.00
  • Washington: $11.00

Note: There may be local wage requirements that are higher than the state minimum wage which would apply to your business.

Massachusetts Veterans Day Paid Leave

Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts signed into law An Act Relative to Housing, Operations, Military Service, and Enrichment (also known as “The HOME Act”) on July 14, 2016.  One of the provisions of the HOME Act requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide paid leave to qualified veterans on Veterans Day each year to participate in Veterans Day activities. Continue reading

Back to School – Some States Require Employers to Provide Leave for School-Related Activities

Summer break has come to an end and school is back in session for the fall. There is no federal requirement for employers to allow their employees time off to participate in school related activities of their children, but some states have enacted their own legislation providing employees withback-to-school-1622789_1920 leave from work for reasons such as participating in parent-teacher conferences, classroom activities, or to address their child’s behavioral problems.

The states with current school-related leave requirements are listed below along with a brief summary of the requirements in each state.

Continue reading

Massachusetts Passes Extensive Pay Equity Law

Following a nationwide trend toward closing the wage gap between men and women, Massachusetts recently enacted the Act to Establish Pay Equity which replaces the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act and will become effective on July 1, 2018.

While Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, the federal Equal Pay Act and the Massachusetts state discrimination law already require employers to pay men and women equal wages for doing the same job; however this new law requires that employers pay equal wages to all employees doing “comparable work.”   The Act states that comparable work requires “substantially similar skill, effort and responsibility and is performed under similar working conditions.”  This should not be determined based on the job title or job description alone.

Under the new law, employers are allowed to have “variations in wages” based only on the following six criteria: (1) a seniority system; (2) a “merit system”; (3) a system based on “quantity or quality of production, sales, or revenue”; (4) geographic location; (5) education, training or experience of the individual; (6) travel required by the position. Continue reading

New Domestic Leave Law in Massachusetts

massachusetts-43766_1280At the same time NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell faces tough questions about Ray Rice, a new domestic violence law went into effect in Massachusetts.  Employers with 50 or more employees must now provide employees who are victims of domestic violence up to 15 days of leave in any 12-month period.  Governor Deval Patrick signed the law on August 8, 2014 and it became effective immediately so employers should not delay in taking steps to come into compliance.

Leave is also allowed to employees if a family member is a victim of abusive behavior, including spouses, parents, step-parents, children, step-children, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren.  The definition of family member also includes those in a “substantive” dating or engagement relationship and who live together, persons having a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together, or a guardian.

Continue reading