New York State Paid Family Leave Communication Letter

In late July, I wrote a brief article regarding “6 Need to Knows About the New York State Paid Family Leave (NYSPF) Legislation” and will more than likely write a few more articles about the legislation as we approach deadlines and implementation in 2018.  We are still patiently waiting for final rules and regulations to be issued from the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, which continue to be communicated slowly.  Continue to monitor for any changes that can and will impact your organization.  As we approach 2018, we should begin communicating with employees about NYSPFL and the upcoming payroll deductions (if you haven’t started the deductions yet).

Below is a draft communication letter to consider when communicating NYSPFL information throughout the organization, which can also be used as a memo for a bulletin board or intranet/email message:

“Effective January 1, 2018, employees could be eligible for Paid Family Leave, as permitted under the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Laws and Regulations.  After this date, eligible part-time and full-time employees may take Paid Family Leave under certain conditions, including: (1) to care for a family member with a serious health condition, (2) to bond with a child after birth or placement for adoption or foster care within the first 12 months after the birth or placement, or (3) because of any qualifying exigency arising from the fact that an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child or parent is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the armed forces of the United States.

Paid Family Leave will phase in over 4 years with a gradually increasing benefit amount and duration, as shown below:

The cost of Paid Family Leave benefits is paid for by the employee via payroll deductions.  The Company will be deducting a percentage of your average weekly wages (determined by New York State) to fund Paid Family Leave benefits.  The deduction rate, which is set by New York State and is the same for everyone, is 0.126% of each employee’s weekly wage with a weekly wage cap of $1,305.92.  The maximum contribution is currently $1.65 each week.  For example, if the employee’s weekly wage amounts to $1,000.00, the maximum payroll deduction for Paid Family Leave would be $1.26 for that week.  For employees who make more than the state’s average weekly wage of $1,305.92, the Paid Family Leave deduction will be capped at $1.65 per week (0.126% of $1,305.92).  We will be designing and communicating a more detailed Paid Family Leave policy in the future to be effective in 2018.  If you have any questions please contact ____.”

Other considerations for NYSPFL Communication Letter and/or Policy:

  • Dates for deductions and payroll processing
  • Concurrent use with Family Medical Leave (remember FMLA varies in coverage)
  • Concurrent use of vacation and/or other paid time off
  • Eligibility, job protection and benefits protection regulations
  • Provider information, certification forms and submission processes
  • Approval and denial information

Additional organizational considerations for NYSPFL:

  • FMLA policy updates
  • Handbook updates
  • Labor and employment law posters/legal communication

The letter is designed for proactive communications.  As laws and regulations evolve, the letter/communication tools will also change.  Organizations should consider developing a frequently asked questions list, to assist employees in better understanding NYSPFL laws.  

 

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

8 Thoughts on Selecting an HRIS or Payroll Management System

Recently, I conducted a webinar on HRIS and Payroll Management Systems.  As leaders, we need to have a clear understanding of organizational needs for these systems.  Is the organization prepared to implement a new system or upgrade to a different system?  Are either of the systems necessary for the success of the organization?  Will it make the organization more efficient?  Are we prepared to pay for the new system?  Can we internally manage the new system?  There are many questions to consider prior to purchasing a system or buying software.

Below are 8 thoughts on selecting an HRIS or Payroll management system:

  1. Organizational assessment: Do you have the resources inhouse to select a system or should an external consultant (neutral) guide the organization through the process?
  2. Organizational needs: How would a new system work within the strategic plan of the organization?  Who is responsible for processing payroll?  Which reports do we need?  Turnover, terminations, new hires, Affirmative Action and other compliance reports.  Do we want an employee-self service module?  What about cellphone aps?  Will employees enroll in benefits on the new system?  Is it just for payroll processing?  What about all these modules?
  3. Project planning: What is the budget for the new system?  Do we have IT support to manage the new system?  Do we have server space for the new system?  Do we have the time to invest in project planning and project implementation?  As we approach the fall months, open enrollment, holidays and performance reviews will take priority.  Time is important for the success of a major implementation.
  4. Evaluating available systems: Develop a spreadsheet that ranks and rates the available system, based on the needs assessment.  What does the organization need and how will we measure available systems?
  5. Project team: “Critical stakeholders may differ from organization to organization, but the considerations and evaluation committee should at least include members from the following departments: IT, payroll/finance/accounting, HR, compensation, performance management, training, recruiting, operations.”[i] Operations is a major stakeholder in the selection process.  Supervisors, managers and employees will be inputting and approving timesheets.  They need to be included in the selection process.  Slow and inefficient systems take away from operations.
  6. Requesting the proposals: Utilize the RFP process within your organization and seek four to seven bids from vendors.  Include information about the organization, project specifications (organizational needs), high-level budget information and project schedule/implementation dates.  Ensure you leave enough time to evaluate systems, 3-6-month commitments on current pricing schedule.
  7. Trial the systems: The project team should meet with three to four potential vendors.   A demonstration of the systems should be included in the evaluation.  Utilize the evaluation spreadsheet that was developed and be prepared to ask questions.  The entire team should be present during the demonstrations and evaluation discussions.
  8. Make your choice: Upon selecting one or two final systems, a request should be made to each vendor for references and potential onsite visits.  The vendors should provide current or past clients.  If they avoid providing references, this might a red flag during the selection process.

Once the finalist has been selected, the organization should negotiate a service contract.  Other negotiation considerations; training, IT support, cloud support, compliance updates, software updates, warranties, self-service, cellphone aps and modules.  Does the organization need a system with all the bells and whistles?  Ensure that you are not upsold on modules and system add-ons you do not need or will not use.  Hold the vendor accountable to the agreed upon service contract.  If you are unclear on the process seek guidance and welcome advice.

 

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

Burr Consulting, LLC

 

[i] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/how-to-guides/pages/howtoselectanhrissystem.aspx

6 Need to Knows About New York State Paid Family Leave

I have written about New York State Paid Family Leave three or four times over the past 8 months, and will more than likely write a few more articles about the legislation as we approach deadlines and implementation in 2018.  We are still patiently waiting for final rules and regulations to be issued from the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, which continue to be communicated slowly to employers and insurance companies.  Continue to monitor for any changes that can and will impact your organization.

Below are 6 Need to Knows about NYSPFL as we approach 1/1/2018:

  1. Employer Eligibility: Qualifying reasons for leave under current PFL include; bonding with a new child (birth, adoption or placement in foster care), employee providing care for a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, spouse or domestic partner with a serious health condition and qualifying exigencies arising from military services of the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent.  Serious health condition or qualifying exigencies, follow the same guidelines that we see under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  2. New York State’s Average Weekly Wage: The current average weekly wage is $1,305.92.  On March 31st of each calendar year, the rate is recalculated by the New York State Department of Labor.  More than likely, we will see this rate continue to increase year over year.
  3. Employer’s Obligation to Fund Paid Family Leave: “Although employers are required to provide PFL benefits to eligible employees, employers are not required to pay anything towards the cost of those benefits. Paid family leave is intended to be 100% employee-funded.”[i]  The Worker’s Compensation Board has yes to publish all rules in this area, continue to monitor for additional updates and new guidelines.
  4. Maximum Deductions: The most that can be deducted is 0.126% of the New York State average weekly wage.  This will be for an employee’s weekly wage.
  5. Insurance or Self-Insure: The employer can forego obtaining insurance and has the option to self-insure. Currently, the employer must elect to do so and file the required paperwork with New York State, no later than September 30, 2017.
  6. Employer’s Offering Benefits That Exceed NYSPFL: If an employer is already offering paid family leave that exceed the legal requirements and pay full salary during leave, the employer may request reimbursement from the insurance carrier for advance payment of benefits.  The employee is not entitled to add-on or double dip NYSPFL or short-term disability.  Benefits are limited to a total of 26-weeks; paid family leave and disability.   

 

As we approach January 1, 2018, continue to watch for updated rules and regulations from the New York State Worker’s Compensation Board.  There are still unanswered questions and areas of the legislation that need to be clarified.  Organizations should now be working with insurance companies or determining if they would like to be self-insured.  Do not wait until the last minute to begin implementing, taking deductions or communicating with the workforce.  The law is complex, seek guidance if you are confused.

New York State Paid Family Leave Resource Website

FMLA & NYPFL – Key Differences

PFLvsFMLA

[ii]

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

[i] https://www.bsk.com/media-center/3746-labor-employment-faqs-mdash-things-you-want-and-need-know-about#.WWfMyYVh068.linkedin

 

[ii] Guardian NYSPFL Presentation

4 Updates on the DOL Overtime Rule

I first want to highlight the background of the overtime rule, from 2016 through current day.  In November 2016, a district court in Texas blocked the overtime rule put forth under the Obama administration.  It was scheduled to raise the salary threshold from $23,600 to $47,476 on December 1, 2016.  Moving to current day, under the Trump administration, the decision was appealed, to better understand and determine the Department of Labor’s authority in setting salary thresholds.  The 2016 ruling is currently moving (slowly) through the litigation process.  However, the Department of Labor has suggested new and more complex alternatives to the salary threshold and overtime rule(s).

Below 4 on the DOL’s Overtime Suggestions:

  1. Request for Information: On July 26, 2017, the Department of Labor issued a request for information (RFI) during the overtime rule making process.  “The use of an RFI in the rule making process is optional but the DOL chose this option rather than immediately publishing a proposed rule in light of pending litigation over the 2016 overtime rule.”[i]  The RFI was published in the Federal Register and comments will be public record.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2017-15666.pdf

  1. Cost-of-Living-Based Salary Test: This is comparable to what we have seen with minimum wage levels and exempt/non-exempt weekly rates, throughout New York City and New York State.  The suggested rates would vary based location and cost of living, a varying scale of exempt and non-exempt rates.  Living in Washington D.C. costs more than living in the rural south.  There will be significant challenges with this option, employees that travel, working in more than one location in different areas of the country.
  2. Litigation and Other Threshold Proposals: Continue to watch for any rulings in the current court proceedings on the Department of Labor’s authority in setting salary thresholds. Also, we could see multiple proposals throughout this process on overtime and salary thresholds, under the new administration.
  3. New York State Regulations: Regardless of changes made at the federal level, we will see changes in the minimum wage rate and exempt/non-exempt rates on January 1, 2018.  Exempt and non-exempt for the specific executive and administrative classifications.  Both increases/changes will vary by region, throughout the state.

 

The laws, regulations and salary thresholds will continue to evolve, through the litigation process by the Department of Labor, request for information proposal and rule making process under the new administration.  Ensure that your organization is compliant with state and federal laws regarding exempt, non-exempt and salaried non-exempt statuses.  There are duties tests to assist employers in determining overtime eligibility, published by the federal government.  If you are confused, seek guidance.  Certain positions can be confusing and determinations are complex.

 

 

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

 

 

[i] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/ot-rfi-multiple-salary-levels.aspx

 

25 State Specific Labor Poster Changes

In February, I wrote a brief article regarding the six changes to the federal labor law poster penalties.  The fines associated with these changes and non-compliance (or not updating) with current labor poster regulations did increase.

Labor and employment regulations on these posters at both the federal and state level can and have changed during the year.  They do not always change at the end of or beginning of a calendar year.  As leaders, we need ensure these posters are updated timely with accurate information.  There are times when posting requirements will not change from year to year.  However, the changes we have seen over the past 2-3 years are significant.  Below are 25 state specific labor poster changes to be aware of in 2017:

25 Poster Changes in 2017.jpg

[i]

New York State minimum wage increased at the end of 2016 and will increase again at the end of 2017.  Remember that NYS Paid Family Leave might also be added to the posting requirements in 2018.  Many of our organizations operate in multiple states.  We need to ensure the labor posters are updated with accurate federal and state information.  An updated poster in New York State does not guarantee that the information in any other state of operation is up-to-date.  Review posters in all locations to ensure legal compliance.  Certain payroll companies will provide updated posters, based on the agreed upon contract.  There are services organizations can subscribe, to receive the updated posters when changes are made on the federal, state or local level.  If you are unsure on the legality of your organizations posters, seek guidance.  Do not assume it is up-to-date.  Buying a poster (or downloading the information for free) is much cheaper than paying a fine.  Audits and reviews are always helpful in understanding what changes need to be made!  The website below provides more information on state specific mandatory updates:

Posterupdates.com

 

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

 

[i] SHRM.org