Analysis on Citations and Penalties for Federal Labor Posting (or Failure to Post)

The new maximum fine amounts are:

  •     Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): $178
  •     Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law (OSHA): $13,653
  •     Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA): $21,663

Federal Penalties and Citations:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act: No citations or penalties for failure to post.
  • OSHA: Subject to citation and penalty
  • FMLA: As noted above.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law (EEO): Appropriate contract sanctions may be imposed for uncorrected violations.
  • Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Provision: Appropriate contract sanctions may be imposed for uncorrected violations.
  • Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act Notice: A civil penalty may e assessed.
  • Employee Rights for Workers with Disabilities Paid at Special Minimum Wage: No citations or penalties for failure to post.
  • Polygraph Protection Act Notice: Secretary of Labor can bring court actions and assess civil penalties for failing to post.
  • USERRA: No citations or penalties for failure to notify. An individual could ask DOL to investigate and seek compliance or file a private enforcement action to require the employer to provide the notice to employees.
  • Employee Rights Under H-2 Program: The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor has a primary role in investigating and enforcing the terms and conditions of employment. WHD is responsible for enforcing the contractual obligations employers have toward employees, and may assess civil money penalties and recover unpaid wages. Administrative proceedings and/or injunctive actions through federal courts may be instituted to compel compliance with an employer’s contractual obligations to employees. The Employment Training Administration (ETA) enforces other aspects of the laws and regulations. ETA is responsible for administering sanctions relating to substantial violations of the regulations and less than substantial violations of the regulations.

Federal Contractor Requirements:

  • Davis-Bacon Act: No citations or penalties for failure to post.
  • EEO: Appropriate contract sanctions may be imposed for uncorrected violations.
  • Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Provision: Appropriate contract sanctions may be imposed for uncorrected violations.
  • Employee Rights on Government Contracts: No citations or penalties for failure to post.
  • Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws: The sanctions, penalties, and remedies for noncompliance with the notice requirements include the suspension or cancellation of the contract and the debarring of Federal contractors from future Federal contracts.

Additional Information

The language in many of the citations and penalties section can vary, as written into the law.  This is a low-hanging fruit opportunity for any organization covered by applicable laws and regulations.  Ensure all posters both in the place of work and virtually are communicated and clear to the organization.  It is guaranteed in every audit I find mistakes on posters.  I am happy to work with any organization on labor and employment law poster questions and compliance. 

2021 New York State Sexual Harassment Training Annual Reminder

Revised: March 2021

Updated: October 2020

Updated Publication Date: September 9, 2019

Original Publication Date: April 29, 2019

2021 New York State Sexual Harassment Training Annual Reminder (Yes, It’s Annually Required, this is Your Early in the Year Reminder)

As a reminder on, October 9, 2019 is the date set by New York State for all employers to have the mandatory sexual harassment training completed for all employees (including governmental employees), interns, etc.  This is an annual training requirement.  The annual refresher training will soon be upon us. The state has broadened the laws regarding filing a claim of sexual harassment, making it easier for claims to be filed against an employer.

Sexual Harassment Policy Updates with recent legislation changes:

  • Eliminate the language “severe and pervasive”
  • Modify Division of Human Rights claim from 1-year to 3-years
  • Policy, handbook, PPT slides and any training material should be updated to reflect these changes
  • Communicate these changes as part of the annual training, with examples

Training Considerations:

  • Update slides with new legislative changes
  • Train new hires as soon as possible (as outlined by the state, watch NYC requirements)
  • I recommend training Board of Directors (even if its policy related) and volunteer groups

New York State Recommended Posting:

  • This is not mandated but recommended.  I recommend utilizing the posting and posting a copy of the sexual harassment policy near labor and employment law posters.
  • New York City has posting requirements

New York State Sexual Harassment Website:

  • No updates have been made to the state website, I will update in upcoming articles with any policy or training slides that the state updates.

I am happy to work with any organization to establish the Sexual Harassment policy, update a policy, train the workforce (managers and supervisors should be trained separately), design training material and/or work on the posting material. 

Additional Considerations:

  • Posting & Communication Material
  • Sexual Harassment Quiz (I utilize one with 10-questions, requiring the trainer and employee to signoff)
  • Annual Notice (Available through state website or me)
  • Supervisor & Managers should be in a separate training
  • Monitor for changes in NYC & any specific state requirements (California, Illinois, etc. have differing requirements than New York State.)

Original Publication 4/29/2019:

As all of us are aware, on October 1, 2018, New York State released final guidance on the state’s new sexual harassment prevention laws and regulations. The new legislation requires all employers in New York State to publish policies concerning sexual harassment, adopt a sexual harassment complaint form, and conduct sexual harassment training.  The state also recommends a posting as part of the policy and complaint procedure.  The advice I provide to all of my clients is, to utilize the state recommended posting and post the policy and complaint form near the labor posters as well.  New York City requires employers to have a posting in the workplace, with differing requirements then the state regarding training, policy, etc.     

Legal Requirements in New York State:

  1. New York State Claim Filing (1-year to file with the NYS Department of Human Rights & 3-years to file in NYS Supreme Court)
  2. Damages & Remedies (Back Pay, Front Page, Compensatory Damages, Interest on Back Pay & Attorney’s Fees)
  3. Not Training Employees (Civil Fine up to $100,000.00, Litigation Penalty, Order to Comply, Contempt of Court & Stop Work Order)
  4. First Round of Training done by 10/9/2019
  5. New Hires after 10/9/2019 (as quickly as possible)
  6. Examples and explanations are imperative in the training, remember to engage the workforce
  7. Training Recommendations (Board of Directors & Volunteers)
  8. Training Considerations (Sign-in/Sign-Out Sheet, Training Materials, Video of Training, Certificate of Completion)
  9. Interactive (Web-based questions at the end of section, answers to questions, option to submit a question online and receive an answer, questions throughout a live training, feedback survey for employees to turn in after they have completed the training, roleplaying, open discussion, scenarios, open activities, small group activities, etc.)

These are just a few of the legal requirements as outlined by New York State and the Department of Human Rights.  All employers should be committed to training employees, managers, board of directors and volunteers annually.  There is no justification not to train, as it is required under the new law.  A quick policy review training, will not suffice the requirements as outlined by New York State and the Department of Human Rights.  This is not a complex training and can be completed in 2-hours, or less.  The majority of my trainings last between 2 and 2.5 hours.  Great discussions in a small group setting, with interactive case discussions.

Below are Training Reminders:

  • An explanation of sexual harassment and specific examples of inappropriate conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment.
  • Detailed information concerning federal, state and local laws and the remedies available to victims of harassment. 
  • A review of any additional local policies, employer’s standards and organizational practices.
  • Detail regarding any internal process that employees are encouraged to use to complain, and the contact information with specific names and offices with which employees should file their complaints.
  • A review of supervisor and managers responsibilities in addressing this form of employee misconduct. (as needed in supervisor/management sessions)
  • An explanation of employees’ external rights of redress and the available administrative and judicial forums for bringing complaints.
  • A review of the employer complaint form.
  • Employer procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties.
  • Retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful.
  • Quiz design and use to end the session. (discussion cases throughout)
  • Question and answer session with feedback
  • All other requirements as outlined under federal and state law
  • Any and all over legally required information by New York State, NYC or local legislation

The tools and resources that were released on October 1 include:

  • Updated website with resources for employers, employees, state contractors and targets of sexual harassment
  • Updated model sexual harassment prevention policy
  • Updated model sexual harassment complaint form
  • Updated model training (script book and PowerPoint presentation)
  • Updated minimum standards for sexual harassment prevention policies and trainings
  • Updated FAQs
  • Toolkits for employers and employees and a sexual harassment prevention policy poster are also being made available.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Employer Resource Link

Frequently Asked Questions Link

New York: NYC Mandates Annual Anti-Harassment Training (4/1/19)[i]

“The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act requires New York City employers with 15 or more employees to provide annual interactive training to prevent sexual harassment for all employees, including interns and supervisory and managerial employees.

Such training is also required for new employees within 90 days of hire (however, an employee who has received sexual-harassment training at one employer within the required training cycle does not need to receive additional training at another employer until the next cycle).

The act defines “interactive training” as “participatory teaching whereby the trainee is engaged in a trainer-trainee interaction, use of audio-visuals, computer or online training program or other participatory forms of training as determined by the commission.””[ii]


[i] Burr Consulting Article 4/1/2019

[ii] SHRM Update

5 Considerations on Job Postings & Recruiting Top Talent

Job postings and recruiting are critical components to the long-term success and growth of organizations both large and small.  One area every organization should focus on is creating a job posting that attracts top talent.  Remember, the first look at the organization is through the job posting.

My 5 Considerations on Job Postings & Recruiting:

  1. Answer the “so what”:  Your organization currently has a job opening, so what?  Many organizations have job openings.  What will make your job posting standout from the thousands listed on job search sites all over the world?  Why should applicants apply for this position?  Ensure that the posting tells a story about the organization and position.  What knowledge, skills and abilities are needed for the current opening?
  • Job Posting vs. Job Description:  Be brief, stay concise, be structured in your job descriptions and job postings, be direct, look for inclusive verbiage, specificity, focus on local (unless it is a national or regional search) and stay current.  Using a job description that is 10-15 years old, probably is not a great approach to job postings.  Utilize social media and the tools available in any job posting website.  Remember, review metrics and follow-up with all applicants.  Using a job description as the basis for a job posting is not effective, taking parts of the job description to help tell the story is part of an effective posting strategy.
  • Honesty is the Best Policy: This might be the most important suggestion on my list of recommendations.  I cannot stress enough honesty during the recruiting process.  Be open and honest regarding any challenges and opportunities associated with the job.  If the organization is looking for an applicant to drive change, talk about the changes and expectations.  If the job requires 60% travel, be honest about it.  Most applicants are making long-term decisions within the first 90-days of employment, turnover is costly if we are not having honest conversations about the job itself.  This will impact future recruiting and retention opportunities.  Be positive and direct throughout the recruiting process.
  • Effective, Efficient and Professional Processes: Taking 2-months to follow-up after an initial resume or application is submitted is not the direction we need to go for effective recruiting.  Develop a process to follow-up with every applicant that applies.  If you interview 3 applicants for the position and offer the job to the top applicant and that person accepts the offer, ensure that you follow-up with the other two people that were interviewed.  I cannot stress the importance of follow-up during the recruiting process, treat applicants the way you want to be treated during the recruiting process, it really is that simple.
  • Partner with Search Firms: I have to plug my new business, with a go live date scheduled (delayed from January, but Quarter 1 2021.)  Look for opportunities to partner with executive search firms to fill leadership positions.  Evolution is necessary in the recruiting industry and my goal is to change the way we approach recruiting and retention.  Collaboration and communication are critical to ensure success with any search firms.  More to come on the new organization in 2021. 

Continuous evolution of any processes throughout any organization are necessary for evolution and change.  Recruiting is no different.  Benchmarking and utilizing 3rd party partnerships will drive the changes I suggested above.  Ask for feedback and never be afraid of change.  Talent always has opportunity, answering the why will help in recruiting this talent.

Proposed FFCRA Paid Leave in 2021 & New York Paid COVID Sick Leave

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act expired on December 31, 2020, with tax credits extended through March 31, 2021 for any employer opting to continue providing the paid leave.  Under the current administration, there has been a proposed reinstatement option for the FFCRA, which would reinstate paid leave through September 30, 2021. 

Below is additional information on the Biden proposal:

  • All employers, including businesses with fewer than 50 or more than 500 employees, along with the federal government will be required to provide FFCRA leave.
  • Healthcare workers and first responders will be entitled to FFCRA leave under the new proposal.
  • Other considerations- the amount and the potential duration of FFCRA benefits might increase under the new plan.
  • End date of September 30, 2021.

New York COVID Sick Leave Update:

Number of Employees 
(As of Jan. 1, 2020)
Amount of Sick Leave Supplemental Benefits
0-10 employees; net income of $1 million or less in the prior tax yearUnpaid leave for duration of the orderCombined COVID-19 Paid Family Leave (PFL) and Disability Leave Benefits (DBL) for the duration of the order
0-10 employees; net income of more than $1 million in the prior tax year5 days of paid sick leaveCombined PFL and DBL for the duration of the order
11-99 employees5 days of paid sick leaveCombined PFL and DBL for the duration of the order
100+ employees14 days of paid sick leave 

Public employers must also provide 14 days of sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay when an employee is covered by the NY COVID-19 sick leave law.

The Jan. 20, 2021 guidance states that employees are entitled to COVID-19 sick leave under the following circumstances:

  • If an employee tests positive for COVID-19 following a period of mandatory quarantine or isolation, the employee cannot report to work, is automatically deemed subject to a subsequent mandatory order of isolation from the Department of Health and is entitled to paid sick leave under the NY COVID-19 sick leave law (even if the employee already received NY COVID-19 sick leave for the first period of mandatory quarantine or isolation). In order to receive NY COVID-19 sick leave for the second time, the employee is required to submit documentation of the positive COVID-19 test result from a licensed medical provider or testing facility to the employer or to the employer’s insurance carrier, if applicable (unless the employer gave the employee the COVID-19 test).
  • If an employee is subject to an order of quarantine or isolation and continues to test positive for COVID-19 at the end of the quarantine or isolation period, the employee may not return to work, is automatically deemed subject to an additional mandatory order of isolation and is entitled to COVID-19 sick leave for the second period of isolation. The employee is required to submit documentation of the subsequent positive COVID-19 test result from a licensed medical provider or testing facility to the employer or to the employer’s insurance carrier, if applicable (unless the employer gave the employee the COVID-19 test that showed the positive result). (BSK)

Current FFCRA Considerations in 2021:

  • Offering EPSL and EFMLA after December 31 will become optional for employers.  
  • An employee will no longer be entitled by law to take EPSL or EFMLA, even if they have a qualifying reason.
  • Employers who choose to offer these paid leaves can still receive a tax credit if they follow the current EPSL and EFMLA rules, including job protection.
  • The extension of the tax credit will be available for leaves taken through March 31, 2021.
  • Employees will not get new hours to use—the unused portion of their original allotment that remains on January 1 is how much they will be able to use through March 31. For instance, if an employee who was entitled to 80 hours of EPSL between April 1 and December 31 used 40 of those hours in 2020, they would have 40 hours left to use between January 1 and March 31, 2021.
  • There is a possible exception when an employee’s EFMLA bank could reset if employers use the calendar year or another fixed FMLA tracking period that starts before March 31 and the DOL fails to readopt the regulations they wrote related to EFMLA. We expect the IRS, DOL, or both, to provide guidance soon that will clear up whether certain employers will need to offer additional hours. We will update the HR Support Center as information becomes available. (HR On the Move)

Other Considerations:

  • Frequently asked questions on the DOL
  • Current employer policy and procedures
  • Labor and Employment Law Posters (mandatory or recommended)

Continue to monitor for updates by the local, state, and federal government.  These changes do impact organizations both large and small. Review call-in procedures and create a form that is easy for tracking leave usage as well.  I am happy to work with any organization that has questions or concerns regarding current leave.

EMPLOYEE REQUEST FOR EMERGENCY FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

Employees requesting Emergency FMLA (EFMLA) pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) must complete this form. You must provide as much advance notice as is reasonably practicable. Upon completion of this form, submit it to Human Resources for processing.

2021 New York State Minimum Wage, Tip Credit and Exempt Salary Changes

Employers in New York are subject to different minimum wages, allowable tip credits, and minimum exempt employee salaries based on where employees work and what kind of work they do. The wage increases listed below took effect on December 31, 2020.

Minimum Wage in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties
The minimum wage in these counties will increase to $14 per hour.

Minimum Wage in the Rest of the State
The statewide minimum wage will increase to $12.50 per hour. This applies to employees outside of New York City and Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, except for fast food employees.

(New York City’s minimum wage previously increased to $15 and applies to all workers in NYC.)

Minimum Wage for Fast Food Employees
The minimum wage for fast food employees working outside of New York City will increase to $14.50 per hour. The final scheduled increase to $15.00 per hour will take effect on July 1, 2021

Tipped Employee Minimum Cash Wage
The minimum cash wage for tipped employees will increase as follows:

Service employees (other than at resort hotels) covered by the Hospitality Wage Order:

  • Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties: $11.65
  • The rest of the state: $10.40
  • (New York City’s minimum previously increased to $12.50)

Food service employees:

  • Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties: $9.35
  • The rest of the state: $8.35
  • (New York City’s minimum previously increased to $10.00)

Tip Credit Eliminated in Miscellaneous Industries
Employers of employees covered by the Minimum Wage Order for Miscellaneous Industries won’t be able to take a tip credit as of December 31, 2020.  

Tips and Gratuities Frequently Asked Questions


Exempt Administrative and Executive Minimum Salaries
The minimum salary for exempt executive and administrative employees in New York will increase as follows:

  • Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties: $1,050 per week, which equals $54,600 per year.
  • The rest of the state outside New York City: $937.50 per week, which equals $48,750 per year.
  • (The minimum in New York City previously increased to $1,125 per week.)

(HR On the Move Article)

Now is the opportunity to review payrates and job descriptions.  Is the position truly an exempt executive or administrative position?  Ensure that job duties align with requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  I am happy to work with any organization to determine exempt vs. non-exempt duties and responsibilities.  Continue to monitor for any significant changes at the federal level in 2021 as well, minimum wage has not been increased federally since July 2009.

Creating a Student Loan Assistance Policy in Any Organization

“Employers are aware of the effects of student loan debt, according to HR consultancy Buck’s annual Financial Wellbeing and Voluntary Benefits Survey Report, based on input from 164 employers with 500 or more employees, polled from late 2019 through February 2020. Some key findings:

  • 41 percent of employers—compared to 23 percent in 2017—said that student loan debt was a top motivator for their financial wellness offerings.
  • Student loan repayment contributions were viewed as one of the best solutions for addressing financial stress, ranking just behind financial coaching and supplemental medical plans.” (SHRM)

Additional Information on Current Legislation:

Employer-provided student loan repayment. The CARES Act temporarily allowed employers to provide student loan repayment as a benefit to employees through Dec. 31, 2020. Under the provision, an employer may contribute up to $5,250 annually toward an employee’s student loans, and such payment would be excluded from the employee’s income. The $5,250 cap applies to both the new student loan repayment benefit as well as other educational assistance (e.g., tuition, fees, and books) provided by the employer under current law. The provision is extended through Dec. 31, 2025.

Developing the Policy:

Objective

The objective of this policy is to assist in repaying student loan debt to further the financial well-being of employees.

Policy

The student loan assistance program provides eligible employees up to [$] per month paid directly to the employee’s student loan servicer. Employees are expected to continue to make minimum monthly payments to the loan servicer in addition to the assistance provided under this policy. Student loan assistance is limited to [$] per year with a [$] cap and is reported as taxable income on the employee’s W-2.

Eligibility (Ensure this is Consistent)

Eligible employees include full-time employees who have received a graduate or undergraduate degree within [amount of time] of the date the employee first applies for assistance under this policy. New employees are eligible after [amount of time] of continuous employment with [Company Name].

Student loan assistance payments will continue for employees on an unpaid leave of absence for up to [amount of time].

Loans eligible for repayment assistance include U.S.-based education loans borrowed by the employee for the employee’s own education.

Procedures

Eligible employees must complete a student loan assistance application and provide proof of graduation documentation and loan documentation. Loan documentation must include:

  • Employee’s name.
  • Loan servicer’s name.
  • Loan account number.
  • Current balance.
  • Required monthly payment amount.
  • Monthly payment due date.

The amount of student loan assistance paid to the loan servicer each month will be the employee’s minimum monthly payment or [$], whichever is less.

Student loan assistance payments will begin on the [date] of the month following receipt and approval of a completed application. Employees will receive written notice of approval or denial of the loan assistance application.

Termination

Loan assistance payments will cease immediately upon an employee’s voluntary or involuntary termination from employment with [Company Name] or change in eligibility status, such as a reduction to part-time hours.  Does the employee have to repay any amount paid by the organization if they do not fulfill a certain time with the organization?  Similar to relocation or bonuses.

Create a policy and program that fits the organization and the culture of the organization.  Very few organizations are taking advantage of student loan assistance for employees.  This is a great opportunity to create a unique perk, while recruiting and retaining top talent.  Survey the workforce to understand the financial wellness needs of employees.  Communicate the results and develop programs that will make a positive impact on employees.   

Originally published in 2018

11 Student Loan Repayment Perks Offered by Organizations

Below are 11 of the perks now being offered by organizations throughout the country:

  • “Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) launched its Student Loan Paydown program in 2016. Forty-five percent of the firm’s 46,000 junior employees (with six years’ experience or less) signed up to receive up to $1,200 annually for six years. The firm has found that this program has become a contributing factor in the job acceptance rate among applicants.
    • Starting this summer, PWC will give employees $100 a month (amounting to $1,200 each year) to help pay down student loans.  The company’s offer is good for up to six years.  That is a big draw for the company, which recruits 11,000 new employees from college on campuses each year.
  • Fidelity’s holistic approach to addressing employee student loan debt includes a Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP) (that pays $2,000 per year with a $10,000 cap), and financial counseling and education for employees at all career and life stages. In the development of the program, Fidelity leaders often heard employees express regret that they wish they had known more when they were in high school and making decisions about how to finance their college education.  In response, Fidelity Labs, an in-house product incubator, created an online education platform called the Student Debt Tool to help employees better understand their situation and their options. The tool includes a student loan refinancing platform to help consolidate loans to achieve lower lending rates. It also offers tools and advice to help employees save for future college costs for themselves and their children.”[i]
  • “Freedom 2 Save program works at Abbott, a research and development company headquartered in Lake Bluff, Ill. Full- and part-time employees who qualify for the company’s 401(k) and are also contributing 2 percent of their eligible pay toward their student loans through payroll deductions receive an amount equivalent to the company’s traditional 5 percent 401(k) match, deposited to their 401(k) accounts. The twist is that program recipients will receive the match without being required to make any 401(k) contributions of their own, allowing them to use more of their earnings to pay off student debt.  Abbott’s approach avoids the taxes triggered when an employer directly gives employees funds to help pay off their student loans.”[ii]
  • “New York Life recently launched a student-loan repayment program offering up to $10,200 over five years for eligible employees—which tops out at $170 a month.
  • Rise Interactive launched its program by offering a loan-repayment contribution of $50 per month.”[iii]
  • “Startup lenders CommonBond and LendEDU both pledges to pay off your entire student loan balance, regardless of how much debt you have, if you’re an employee. Common Bond will provide $100 a month and LendEDU $200 a month until your debt is settled. Unfortunately, the odds of being an employee at either company are slim: Common Bond has less than 100 employees and LendEDU has just six.
  • Natixis Global Asset Management, the Boston-based division of French investment bank Natixis, rewards loyalty with $5,000 put toward employees’ student loan balance after their five-year work anniversary. They also receive $1,000 a year for the next five years.
  • Online homework helper Chegg offers employees a $1,000 annual contribution, after taxes, toward their student loan balance. It also provides an online student loan management tool to help workers maximize their payments.
  • Nevada’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch will match their employees’ student loan payments 100% for two months.  When you consider that employees reportedly make about $3,000 a week at the brothel, the program could work out to be a lucrative offer.”[iv]
  • “The American Bankers Association said that next month it would begin helping employees with their college-related debts.  The ABA will pay up to $1,200 per year per eligible employee toward student loans, above and beyond salary and any other benefits. The organization, which represents banks that employ more than 2 million people, said it is encouraging each member bank to take a similar step.”[v]

Below are relocation options, currently being offered or being developed: 

Currently, only 4% of employers are now offering perks outlined above.  As the war for talent continues to increase and turnover continues to be a driving concern in organizations, these perks will grow in popularity.  Will these perks work for your organization?  Maybe or maybe not.  However, 44+ million people with student loan debt is a tremendous labor pool.  Before implementing a program such as this, benchmark options, know the tax advantages and disadvantages and ask your current workforce.  I personally believe there is value in programs such as this and would be happy to work with any organization in implementing a student loan repayment option for the workforce.  It will separate you from your competitors.

“On Aug. 17, the IRS made public its Private Letter Ruling (PLR) 201833012, which was issued to the requesting company on May 22. The letter responds to an unnamed employer that proposed amending its 401(k) plan to offer a student-loan benefit program under which it would make special 401(k) contributions into the accounts of employees who are making student loan repayments.”[i]

IRS Letter Amending 401(k)

20 Companies that Help Employees Pay Off Their Student Loans (Student Loan Hero)

Labor Poster Updates:

Nevada OSHA poster has been updated to reflect new mandatory penalty amounts for each serious violation, non-serious violation, and daily penalty for failing to correct a violation. This posting appears on the Nevada Combination Poster. This is a mandatory change.

Virginia Pregnancy Accommodation poster has been updated to reflect a new agency name for employees to file discrimination complaints within the Office of the Attorney General. The Virginia Division of Human Rights has been changed to the Virginia Office of Civil Rights. This posting appears on the Virginia Combination Poster. This is a mandatory change.

District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act During COVID-19 poster has been updated to reflect that the temporary amendments to the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act to create new job-protected leave for employees for various COVID-19 reasons has been extended through May 22, 2021. This is a mandatory change.

Utah Unemployment Insurance poster has been updated to clarify how employees can file unemployment insurance claims. The poster was also updated to reflect a change to the website address and to the phone numbers and addresses for several state employment centers. This posting appears on the Utah Combination Poster. This is a mandatory change.

California Fair Employment poster has been updated to reflect recent amendments to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.  A new leave law amendment expands the definition of family member to include grandparent, grandchild, or sibling, and permits leave for certain military exigencies and also expands the law to now apply to employers with five or more employees.  This posting appears on the California Combination Poster, Part 1. This is a mandatory change.

Michigan Paid Medical Leave poster has been updated to reflect a correction when filing a complaint. An employee may file a complaint with the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) within 6 months of the violation. This posting appears on the Michigan Combination Poster. This is a mandatory change.


[i] https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/benefits/Pages/IRS-allows-401k-match-for-student-loan-payments.aspx


[i] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/employers-explore-repaying-student-loan-debt.aspx

[ii] https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/401k-twist-on-student-loan-aid.aspx

[iii] https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/benefits/Pages/launching-student-loan-repayment-benefit.aspx

[iv] http://time.com/money/4261054/employee-student-loan-repayment-programs/

[v] http://time.com/money/4555841/student-loans-employer-benefit/

[vi] “Student Loan Repayment Assistance.”  Burr Consulting, LLC Article. March 2016

[vii] http://time.com/money/4810605/memphis-employee-benefit-student-loans/

[viii] “Student Loan Repayment Assistance.”  Burr Consulting, LLC Article. March 2016

DOL Guidance on Posting Requirements for Remote & Hybrid Workplaces

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently provided guidance on complying with its notices and posting requirements when in a remote work environment.

Posting Guidance:

(1) all of the employer’s employees exclusively work remotely,

(2) all employees customarily receive information from the employer via electronic means, and

(3) all employees have readily available access to the electronic posting at all times. This ensures the electronic posting satisfies the statutory and regulatory requirements that such postings be continuously accessible to employees. Where an employer has employees on-site and other employees teleworking full-time, for example, the employer may supplement a hard-copy posting requirement with electronic posting and the Department would encourage both methods of posting.

If an employer seeks to meet a worksite posting requirement through electronic means, such as on an intranet site, internet website, or shared network drive or file system posting, the electronic notice must be as effective as a hard-copy posting. As a number of the statutory provisions below require that affected individuals be able to readily see a copy of the required postings, where an employer chooses to meet a worksite posting requirement through electronic means, the same requirements apply in the electronic format. As a practical matter, a determination of whether affected individuals can readily see an electronic posting depends on the facts. For instance, the affected individuals must be capable of accessing the electronic posting without having to specifically request permission to view a file or access a computer.

Impacted Federal Posters:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Section 14(c) of the FLSA
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act
  • Service Contract Act

DOL Guidance

DOL Poster Advisor Link

Additional Recommendations:

  • Design an easily accessible space in your company intranet or employee portal for federal and state posters. “Consider making your company intranet or portal appear automatically on employees’ computers upon logging in,” he said.
  • Use your employee handbook or handbook acknowledgment page to inform employees of the virtual location of postings.
  • Incorporate all required notices in your applicant portal and applicant tracking system if hiring is conducted remotely.

Work with your labor poster provider and seek guidance with any questions or concerns related to remote postings.  Remember, there are local and state requirements as well, with remote workers.  I am happy to answer any questions regarding posting requirements.

Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave poster has been updated to reflect an increase to the cap of weekly benefits by the Washington Employment Security Department.  The maximum allowed for weekly benefits increased from $1,000 to $1,206. This posting appears on the Washington Combination Poster. This is a mandatory change.

California Pregnancy Disability and CFRA Leave poster has been updated to reflect recent amendments to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).  A new law expands the definition of family member for CFRA purposes and also expands the CFRA to now apply to employers with five or more employees.  This posting appears on the California Combination Poster, Part 2. This is a mandatory change.

California Industrial Welfare Commission Wage (IWC) Industry Wage Orders have been updated to reflect the 2021, 2022 and 2023 increases to the state minimum wage and revised updated meal and lodging credit amounts. The web address for computer software employees overtime exemptions has also been revised. This is a mandatory change.

Alaska Minimum Wage poster has been updated to reflect an increase in the minimum wage. The minimum wage rate will increase from $10.19 per hour to $10.34 per hour effective January 1, 2021. This posting appears on the Alaska Combination Poster. This is a mandatory change.

Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation poster has been updated to reflect a change to the state’s workers’ compensation law adding chiropractic services to allowable medical treatment. This posting appears on the Oklahoma Combination Poster. This is a mandatory change.

California Fair Employment poster has been updated to reflect recent amendments to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.  A new leave law amendment expands the definition of family member to include grandparent, grandchild, or sibling, and permits leave for certain military exigencies and also expands the law to now apply to employers with five or more employees.  This posting appears on the California Combination Poster, Part 1. This is a mandatory change.

OSHA 300 Recordkeeping Rules & Requirements

Under OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation, certain covered employers are required to prepare and maintain records of serious occupational injuries and illnesses using the OSHA 300 Log. This information is important for employers, workers and OSHA in evaluating the safety of a workplace, understanding industry hazards, and implementing worker protections to reduce and eliminate hazards.

Is your organization required to prepare and maintain records under current rules?

To find out if you are required to prepare and maintain records under the updated rule, first determine your NAICS code by:

  1. Using the search feature at the U.S. Census Bureau NAICS main webpage.  In the search box for the most recent NAICS, enter a keyword that describes your business. Choose the primary business activity that most closely corresponds to you, or refine your search to get more choices.
  2. Viewing the most recent complete NAICS tables on the U.S. Census Bureau NAICS main webpage. Select the two-digit sector code and choose a six-digit industry code to read its definition.
  3. Using an old SIC code to find your NAICS code using the detailed conversion tables on the U.S. Census Bureau Concordances page.
  4. Contacting your nearest OSHA office or State agency for help.

Once you have found your NAICS code, you can use the following table to determine if your industry is exempt from the recordkeeping rule.

NOTE: Establishments in companies with 10 or fewer employees at all times in the previous year continue to be exempt from keeping OSHA records, regardless of their industry classification.  The partial exemption for size is based on the number of employees in the entire company.

Forms Needed for Completion:

The OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping forms are:

  • the Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300),
  • the Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA Form 300A), and
  • the Injury and Illness Incident Report (OSHA Form 301).

Employers must fill out the Log and the Incident Report only if a recordable work-related injury or illness has occurred. Employers must fill out and post the Summary annually, even if no recordable work-related injuries or illnesses occurred during the year.

In place of the OSHA forms, employers may also use equivalent forms (forms that have the same information, are as readable and understandable, and are completed using the same instructions as the OSHA forms they replace). Many employers use an insurance form instead of the Incident Report, or supplement an insurance form by adding information required by OSHA.

Additional Information:

OSHA Fact Sheet

OSHA Exempt Industries FAQ Sheet

OSHA Recordkeeping Forms

OSHA 300 & 300A PDF Forms

Six Thoughts on Destroying Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt is impacting millions of borrowers across the world.  Borrowers throughout the United States currently owe $1.7 Trillion dollars in outstanding debt.  Federally backed loans will become due again in 2021, regardless of the promises made by politicians about eliminating $50,000 of debt from each borrower.  I know many people that owe much more than $50,000 in student loan debt.  I myself have borrowed and repaid over $200,000 of student loans throughout my academic career and will owe close to $20,000 in 2021.  Below are a few thoughts I have on repaying student loan debt quick.

My Thoughts on Destroying Student Loan Debt:

  1. Do not ignore the debt.  Anyone who has borrowed money for student loans should have a general understanding of how much is owed and to which lending houses.  Review all loans and prioritize the loans with the highest levels of interest.
  2. Be prepared to make sacrifices.  Yes, that means not buying $6.00 cups of coffee every morning, going out to eat 4-days per week, taking unnecessary luxury vacations and leasing brand new vehicles.  Sacrifice now for freedom later in life.  Debt freedom is something that profoundly changes your life.
  3. Start payments immediately.  We all have six months to start making payments on student loans after completion of the program.  However, if you receive money for graduation or have money in savings, I highly encourage you to make payments regardless of the amount or how often.  I never wait the six months to start making payments.  It will keep interest accrual at zero, which is the goal for any debt repayment.
  4. Make more than the minimum payment.  Following the advice above, making more than the minimum payment will help knock down the interest accrual, to ensure we are attacking the principal amount of the loan.  Even if the overpayment is $10 or $20 its better than the minimum payment.
  5. Pay more than once per month.  This follows the advice in #3 and #4.  Make additional payments throughout the month if you can.  Continue knocking down the interest and principal.  This is called the snowflake method of repayment.  I keep the interest on my loans a $0, to ensure my payments knock down the principal.  This requires you to review your accounts often as well, which will make the debt a priority.
  6. Reward yourself for successes.  If you are successful at eliminating debt, take time to reward yourself with a nice meal, a short vacation, etc.  I am not encouraging a luxury cruise or vacation to Europe.  Think need vs. want.  Do you really need it, or do you want it?

These are just a few thoughts on destroying student loan debt.  My upcoming book “Slay the Student Loan Dragon Tips and Tricks on How to Conquer the Student Loan Game” will have many more suggestions and tips on knocking out any level of debt.  The release date is scheduled for January 19, 2021.  At the end of the day, it is a simple, we can sit around and complain about the rules and how unfair it is to have student loan debt, or you can beat the game.  Student loan debt is not easy to discharge in bankruptcy courts and the government will garnish everything, including social security.  The financial sacrifices today will set you up for long term financial successes throughout your entire life.

Release date: January 19, 2021. Available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions.

2021 Revised State and Federal Forms Needed in New York State, IRS Mileage Rate, FMLA Updates in the New Year

As we are only a few days into 2021, some of our organizations will be hiring new employees for continued operation and the upcoming seasonal summer months.  New hires require new and legally updated paperwork.  State and federal forms get updated and posted on government websites for all of us to use, in either an electronic or downloadable PDF form.  These forms are not always updated at the beginning or end of the year.  Ensure you have the most current forms. 

Below are the new hire forms needed in New York State:

  1. Form I-9, Eligibility to work in the United States: This form is required in every state for new hires.  Organizations must verify that new employees are legally eligible to work in the United States.  Ensure the form is filled out correctly and signed by the right person in the organization, audits are a great option for an organization to review old I-9 forms.  This form expires 10/31/2022.  We could see changes in 2021.
  2. Form W-4, wage Withholding Allowance Certificate: This form is necessary for federal withholdings.  All employees should complete and sign a Form W-4 prior to starting work.  The 2021 form is now available through the link or an internet search.
  3. Form IT-2104, Employer Allowance Certificate (NYS):This is the New York State withholding form required for all new employees or any revised withholding information. Additional NYS Forms
  4. Pennsylvania Employer Withholding Forms
  5. Wage Prevention Fact Sheet: Organizations are required to provide wage notification forms to all employees, if they do not carve out specific language in the employees offer letter.  See fact sheet and frequently asked question links below to understand specific requirements on offer letters.  The forms vary by hourly, salary and salaried nonexempt.  The link above provides a definition on which form to use based on the classification of the employee.  Reminder, these forms were last updated in early 2017.

Wage Prevention Frequently Asked Questions

Notice of Pay for Hourly Employees

Notice for Exempt Employees

Notice for Employees Paid a Weekly Rate or a Salary for a Fix Number of Hours (40 of Fewer in a Week)

6. 2019 W-9 Form: (Revised October 2018) these forms are utilized for consultants and others that might be working within your organization.  This form was updated in October 2018.  Ensure you have an updated form from any consultants or others that are issued a 1099. No current changes. Additional Information

7. FMLA Forms: “The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.

FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women.

FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:

  • For the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
  • For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for an immediate family member (i.e., spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Whether an employee has worked the minimum 1,250 hours of service is determined according to FLSA principles for determining compensable hours or work.” (DOL Website)

a. WH-380-E Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition (PDF)

b. WH-380-F Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition (PDF)

c. WH-381 Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities (PDF)

d. WH-382 Designation Notice (PDF)

e. WH-384 Certification of Qualifying Exigency For Military Family Leave (PDF)

f. WH-385 Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Covered Servicemember — for Military Family Leave (PDF)

g. WH-385-V Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave (PDF)

Remember to watch for the FFCRA posting and additional changes to this law as well.

2021 IRS Mileage Rate:

Standard Mileage Rate Website (Additional Information)

Beginning on January 1, 2021, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 56 cents per mile driven for business use, down 1.5 cents from the rate for 2020,
  • 16 cents per mile driven for medical, or moving purposes for qualified active duty members of the Armed Forces, down 1 cent from the rate for 2020, and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, the rate is set by statute and remains unchanged from 2020.

NY State Posting Requirements (NYC has variations):

Notice to Employees (IA 133)  

Complete this form if you would like to order the Unemployment Insurance Notice to Employees (IA 133) poster. The poster is available in various languages. You are required to display this poster.