HR Alerts For November 2016
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Kentucky Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisville Metro Minimum Wage Law
The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that Kentucky cities do not have the authority to raise the minimum wage. This ruling means that a November 2015 ordinance in Lexington that increased the minimum wage and a similar decision in Louisville from 2014 are no longer valid.
Employers in Jefferson County can once again pay workers a minimum of $7.25 per hour.
Louisville’s ordinance mandated a minimum of $8.25 per hour until this ruling. The minimum had been set to reach $9 an hour on July 1, 2017.
OSHA Delays Effective Date of Anti-Retaliation Provisions
Enforcement of the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) anti-retaliation provisions has been pushed back to December 1, 2016. Initially intended to be effective August 10, 2016, the provisions were originally delayed until November 1, 2016. OSHA agreed to this second delay in light of a legal challenge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
When the anti-retaliation provisions go into effect, the rules will require employers to do the following:
- Inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without retaliation;
- Have a procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses that is reasonable and does not deter or discourage employees from reporting;
- Refrain from retaliating against employees for reporting.
While this rule does not prohibit incentive programs, employers must not create incentive programs that deter or discourage an employee from reporting an injury or illness (such as offering bonuses for low reporting rates). If used, incentive programs should encourage safe work practices and promote worker participation in safety-related activities.
In addition, automatic post-injury drug testing will be under more scrutiny and will likely be considered retaliatory unless it is done pursuant to state or federal law. The rules do not prohibit post-accident drug testing on a case-by-case basis, such as when an employer has reasonable suspicion that an employee was under the influence at the time of an accident.
DOL Announces Federal Contractor Minimum Wage
The Federal Contractor Minimum Wage, implemented by presidential Executive Order in 2014, increases to $10.20 per hour (and $6.80 for tipped employees), effective Jan. 1, 2017.
This law affects all companies with federal government contracts or subcontracts. All company locations where employees perform work under contract or subcontract are required to display this posting to their employees on or before the Jan. 1, 2017, effective date.
DOL: Paid Sick Leave for Workers on Federal Contracts
The U.S. Department of Labor released its Final Rule in September requiring federal contractors to provide at least seven days of sick leave to their employees. This rule will go into effect January 1, 2017.
The Final Rule implements Executive Order 13706, signed by President Barack Obama in September 2015. The following is a general overview of the 466 page rule.
- Length of Paid Sick Leave: Employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked on or in connection with a covered federal contract. The paid leave must be allowed to accrue to at least 56 hours, or 7 days, in a year, or at any point in time.
- Use of Paid Leave: Employees may use the paid leave in connection with their own illnesses or health care needs, including preventative care; the care of family member or loved one who is ill or needs health care, including preventative care; or purposes resulting from being the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or to assist a family member who is such a victim (which includes time required to pursue legal action or to seek relocation services). Employees can use as little as an hour of paid sick leave or as much as all of paid sick leave they have accrued at one time.
- Carry-over and Cash-out: Employees can carry-over up to 56 hours (7 days) of unused paid leave from year to year. Employers are required to reinstate paid leave for employees rehired by a covered contractor within 12 months after a job separation with the same company. However, employers are not required to pay employees for any unused paid sick leave when they leave their jobs.
- Existing Paid Leave Policies: An employer’s existing paid time off policy may fulfill its paid sick leave obligations under the Final Rule if the policy provides employees with at least the same rights and benefits as the Final Rules.
- Anti-discrimination and Anti-retaliation: Employers may not interfere with the accrual or use of paid sick leave and may not discriminate or retaliate against any employee for his or her use or attempted use of paid sick leave.
The Department of Labor has the authority to investigate violations of the Final Rule, including potential interference, discrimination, retaliation claims, and failure to meet the Rule’s requirements. The consequences of violating the rule include suspension and debarment from federal contracting. Consequently, it is imperative that employers comply with the Final Rule.