Category Archives: Workplace Policies & Practices

Clarification to Minimum Wage Increase News Flash

 

We realize that it has been a few years since the federal contractor minimum wage regulations from Executive Order 13658 have gone into effect.  Due to several questions that we have received, we have put together specific information as to what contracts are covered, what your organization should do if you are covered, and more.

Also, we are including a link to the poster for you to display, if you aren’t already, in a conspicuous place to satisfy the notice requirement of the regulations.  The new poster for the 2018 increase will be officially released shortly.

What Contracts Are Covered?

First, the minimum wage regs only cover “new” contracts which are entered into or existing contracts that are modified or extended after January 1, 2015.

Second, the regs only apply to the following contracts/subcontracts:

  • Procurement contracts for construction covered by the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA).  It does not include construction contracts covered by DBA related acts such as the Federal-Aid Highway Acts, the Community Development Act, or the American Recovery and Investment Act.
  • Service contracts covered by the Service Contract Act (SCA).  Coverage of the SCA is fairly specific.  A DOL fact sheet, discussing coverage of the act can be found here.  If you have a service contract that does not specify that it is covered by the SCA, the regs do not apply.
  • Contracts for Concessions where the federal government contracts for the provision of food, lodging, fuel, souvenirs, recreational equipment or newspaper stands in connection with the use of federal property, lands or facilities.
  • Contracts in connection with federal property or lands for the provision of services to federal employees, their dependents, or the general public.  The provision of supplies in support of these contracts is not covered by the regs.

Continue reading Clarification to Minimum Wage Increase News Flash

Asking Applicants for Prior Salary: Options for the Future

Throughout 2017, more and more states and municipalities have introduced and enacted legislation barring employers from asking for or only considering a job applicant’s prior salary in formulating a job offer.  Following in the footsteps of Massachusetts, Oregon, Delaware, and more, roughly twenty-five states and the District of Columbia are considering their own prior salary measures. 

The rationale behind these prohibitions is that existing wage inequities are perpetuated when considering the applicant’s salary history to set starting pay.

Employers across the country now find themselves at a critical juncture and should be weighing their options.  So, what are some broad considerations that an organization should be thinking about with an eye toward the future?

A first option is to get ahead of the curve and eliminate all inquiries regarding prior salary altogether.  From an administrative standpoint, this would be the easiest option, as the inquiry about prior salary would be removed from all applications and interviewer questionnaires.  Continue reading Asking Applicants for Prior Salary: Options for the Future

The Future of the OFCCP, the Executive Order and Affirmative Action

It is with some trepidation that I even bring up this topic. However, as a practitioner of close to 40 years in the areas of affirmative action and EEO, I find myself more uncertain than ever before about the future of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), Executive Order (EO) 11246, and the legal principles behind affirmative action.

Ever since the election of Donald Trump, the future of affirmative action and the OFCCP has been a topic of discussion and conjecture in the legal, HR, and various stakeholder communities.  To the extent that commentators have been willing to weigh-in on the topic, most predictions have come down on the side that both the OFCCP and affirmative action as a legal principle are for the most part, “safe.”  However, just how “safe” things really are is far from certain.

On March 13, 2017, President Trump signed a new Executive Order directing the head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review every executive branch agency to identify “where money can be saved and services improved.”  OMB is to consider “… (ii) whether some or all of the functions of an agency, a component, or a program are redundant, including with those of another agency, component, or program…” and “… (iii) whether certain administrative capabilities necessary for operating an agency, a component, or a program are redundant with those of another agency, component, or program…”

Then, on March 16, 2017, President Trump’s 2017 budget was released.   The budget proposes a 21% reduction in funds for the Department of Labor (DOL).  There is nothing that indicates that the reductions will be spread evenly throughout the Department.  Some agencies and programs could experience larger reductions than others.

Six days later on March 22, 2017, Alexander Acosta, the nominee for Secretary of Labor, had his Senate confirmation hearing.  During the hearing, there was no discussion regarding his take on the future of the OFCCP.  However, in response to questioning, Acosta responded that he would follow the March 13, 2017 executive order.  Continue reading The Future of the OFCCP, the Executive Order and Affirmative Action

New Form I-9 in Effect

In November 2016, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) revealed a revised version of the Form I-9.  As of January 22, 2017, all employers must begin using this new version (dated 11/14/2016 in the bottom-left corner).

The most prominent change to the new Form is that it is now available as both a traditional paper version and also as an interactive, fillable PDF document, allowing it to be completed with software found on most computers.  Being dubbed as a “Smart” document, the new PDF version has features such as drop-down menus and real-time error messages that will help both employers and employees properly complete the new Form.

Other minor changes include:

  • In Section 1, employees only need to provide “Other Last  Names Used (if any)” rather than “All Names Used.”
  • There are additional spaces to enter multiple preparers and translators. If you are using the “Smart” version, additional spaces will appear if you check the box indicating that more than one preparer or translator was used. If you are using the traditional paper version, the extra spaces are located on the Form I-9 Supplement.
  • In Section 2, there is now a dedicated space for “Additional Information,” eliminating the need to write comments and other miscellaneous information in the margins of the form as in the past.

To avoid any confusion, copies of the prior version, dated 03/08/2013, should be discarded.  The new I-9 has an expiration date of August 31, 2019.  Failure to use the revised Form may result in recently-increased penalties, which range from $216 to $2,156 for paperwork violations.

Be advised that even if your company uses E-Verify, all employers must use the Form I-9.  Utilizing E-Verify does not remove an employer’s obligation to complete the Form.

For copies of all versions of the Form as well as instructions on how to complete them, please visit:

https://www.uscis.gov/i-9

If you would like to discuss the new Form I-9 or E-Verify in more detail as they each apply to your specific organization, please do not hesitate to contact us.

New Federal Overtime Regulations Released Effective December 1, 2016

 

New regulations changing the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regarding eligibility for overtime were published on May 17, 2016 by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The FLSA sets rules governing minimum wage and eligibility for overtime. 

The changes consist of:

1.      A new minimum salary threshold before applying the  Executive, Professional or Administrative “Duties Test” of $47,476 annually ($913 per week), up from the current threshold of $23,660 annually ($455 per week).

2.    Up to 10% of the annual amount can consist of bonuses/commissions.  So, an individual making $45,000 annually but receiving a 10% bonus ($4,500) would meet the new threshold as their total pay would be $49,500, which exceeds the new $47,476 threshold.

3.       The effective date for the new regs is December 1, 2016.  This gives employers slightly more than six (6) months to complete their implementation strategy.

4.       The automatic adjustment to the salary level will now occur every three (3) years as opposed to annually.

5.       There has been no change to the Duties Test for Executive, Professional or Administrative employees. 

6.      The threshold for the Highly Compensated Employee exemption is now $134,404 annually.

This means that an individual must earn at least the new annual threshold ($47,476) before application of the FLSA’s “duties” exemption test can be considered. The “duties” test evaluates whether the individual meets one of the Executive, Professional, or Administrative exemptions. Continue reading New Federal Overtime Regulations Released Effective December 1, 2016