What Do I Need to Know for January?
Massachusetts Paid Family & Medical Leave Contributions Due
Under the new Massachusetts Paid Family Leave Law employees and other covered individuals in the Commonwealth will be entitled to a generous set of new paid leave benefits and rights beginning January 1, 2021. While no benefits are available under the MA PFML until 2021, the first quarterly contributions to the Commonwealth's MA PFML fund (i.e. to cover the period from October 1 to December 31, 2019) must be remitted by employers with 25 or more covered individuals by January 31, 2020. Additional information can be found here.
Minimum Wage Increases - 21 States Including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont
Four of the six New England states will see increases to their minimum wage as well as 17 others.
Two of these states (South Dakota, Washington) do not require postings, the others do. This would be a good time to be certain your locations postings are current:
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California (26 or more employees), Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland (15 or more employees), Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (employers with gross revenues of $500,00 or more), Missouri, Montana, New Jersey (6 or more employees), New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington.
FLSA Exemption Threshold - Federal
January 1, 2020. Department of Labor’s final rule amending the regulations for “white collar” overtime exemptions for employees. The final rule increases the minimum salary level for exemption from $455 per week to $684, or $35,568 per year. The final rule also increases from $100,000 to $107,432 the total annual compensation required for employees to qualify under the shorter highly compensated employee test.
FLSA regular rate rule updated - Federal
The new rule clarifies when certain employer benefits may be excluded when calculating overtime pay for a non-exempt employee, including bona fide meal periods, reimbursements, certain benefit plan contributions, state and local scheduling law payments and more.
The rule also clarifies how employers may determine whether a bonus is discretionary or nondiscretionary.
The rule will take effect Jan. 12, 2020.
Included for purposes of "regular rate" is "routinely-provided childcare" but "emergency childcare services" — if those services are not provided as compensation for hours of employment and are not tied to the quantity or quality of work performed — may be excluded. Tuition reimbursement is also excluded as long as tuition programs are offered to employees regardless of hours worked or services rendered and are "contingent merely on one’s being an employee." This includes payment for an employee's current coursework, online coursework, payment for an employee’s family member’s tuition and certain student-loan repayment plans.
The final rule can be found here.
Paid Leave - Nevada
Nevada employers will soon have a very important New Year’s resolution to complete: complying with the state’s first-ever paid leave law. Effective January 1, 2020, all private employers with 50 or more employees in Nevada will have to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid leave per benefit year.
Under the measure, employees accrue paid leave as they work — 0.01923 hours of paid leave for each hour of work performed. Essentially, 40-hour-a-week employees would be entitled about 40 hours of paid leave per year. Employers also have the option of frontloading the paid leave.
Safe Time Leave - Westchester County, New York
This law became effective October 30, 2019. Employers must provide employees with a copy of the law and notice of how it applies to them upon hire (or, for current employees, by January 28, 2020); employers must also display a copy of the law and a poster in a conspicuous location accessible to employees.
The safe time is in addition to the sick leave available to employees under the County's sick leave law. Under the safe time leave law, employees are entitled to up 40 hours of paid safe leave per year to attend or testify in a criminal or civil court proceeding related to domestic violence or human trafficking, or move to a safe location.
Pay History Question Bans - New Jersey, New York
Both states expand their bans on state employers requesting information to a ban statewide, effective January 2020.
New York's statewide ban goes into effect January 6, 2020. Employers may not seek pay history and may only confirm pay history if, at the time an offer of employment is made, applicants or current employees respond to the offer by providing pay history to support a wage or salary higher than that offered by the employer.
New Jersey's statewide ban goes into effect January 1. Employers may not screen applicants based on their pay history and may not require that an applicant's prior wages, salaries or benefits meet minimum or maximum criteria. If an applicant voluntarily, without employer prompting or coercion, discloses pay history, an employer may verify the applicant's pay history and may also consider pay history in determining the applicant's salary, benefits and other compensation. After an offer of employment that includes an explanation of the overall compensation package has been made to the applicant, an employer may request the applicant provide the employer a written authorization to confirm pay history.
Reproductive Health Decision Making Discrimination – New York
By January 8, 2020, employers must include in their employee handbooks a notice to employees of their rights and remedies under this anti-discrimination law. The law broadly defines "reproductive health decision making" as "including, but not limited to, the decision to use or access a particular drug, device or medical service." Employers are prohibited from accessing an employee's personal information regarding the employee's reproductive health decisions or those of the employee's dependents, without the employee's prior informed affirmative written consent; discriminating or taking any retaliatory action against an employee based on the employee's reproductive health decisions or those of the employee's dependents; and requiring an employee to sign a waiver or other document which purports to deny the employee the right to make his or her own reproductive health care decisions.
California Compliance Effective January 1, 2020:
The California Consumer Privacy Act ("CCPA") goes into effect. The CCPA "grants consumers various rights with regard to their personal information held by businesses, including the right to know, access and request deletion of their data." Any personal information a business maintains that can identify applicants, current and former employees, contractors, employee emergency contacts, and employees' dependents/spouses is subject to CCPA. Employers should take immediate steps to ensure compliance with the CCPA.
Organ Donor Leave Amendments. These amendments will extend the amount of leave an employee may take under the state's organ donor leave law. Currently, the Act requires private employers with 15 or more employees to provide employees 30 business days of paid leave for organ donation in a one-year period and up to five business days of paid leave for bone marrow donation. Private employers must provide eligible employees an additional 30 business days of unpaid leave in a one-year period to participate in an organ donation.
Lactation accommodation requirements Recent amendments specify that the break time shall be provided "each time such employee has need to express milk," rather than a "reasonable amount of break time," as previously required. The new law maintains the requirement that a lactation room shall not be a bathroom, and shall be in close proximity to the employee's work area. It also further adds that the room must be shielded from view and free from intrusion while the employee is lactating. Additionally, the new law requires that a lactation room must: be safe, clean, and free of hazardous materials; contain a surface to place a breast pump and personal items; contain a place to sit; and have access to electricity or alternative devices, including, but not limited to, extension cords or charging stations needed to operate an electric or battery-powered breast pump. Additionally employers are required to provide access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator suitable for storing milk in close proximity to the employee's workplace. Lastly, the new law provides that, where a multipurpose room is used for lactation among other uses, the use of the room for lactation shall take precedence over the other uses, but only for the time it is being used for lactation purposes. Employers must develop and implement a lactation policy to include in an employee handbook or set of policies made available to employees, as well as distribute the policy to new employees upon hire and when an employee makes an inquiry about or requests parental leave. California employers should review and update their policies and procedures for providing lactation accommodations to comply with this law.
"No rehire" provisions contained in settlement agreements entered into on or after January 1, 2020, will be void, except in certain limited circumstances, such as when an employer has made a good faith determination that the separated employee engaged in sexual harassment or assault. The law does not require an employer to rehire a former employee, however, so long as there is a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for terminating the employment relationship or refusing to rehire the individual.
IRS Contribution Limits to Increase - National
The contribution limit for health flexible spending arrangements (health FSAs) will be $2,750 in 2020.
401(k) Contribution Limit Increased to $19,500
The employee contribution limit for 401(k) plans will be $19,500, up from $19,000 in 2019. The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over will be $6,500, up from $6,000.
The employee contribution limit for IRAs will remain $6,000. The catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over also remains unchanged, at $1,000.
The employee contribution limit for SIMPLE IRAs and SIMPLE 401(k) plans will increase to $13,500, up from $13,000 in 2019.