The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently released the “Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment.” This is a guidance document for employers, that contains harassment prevention recommendations for all employers in four categories. As leaders we have a responsibility to take all harassment claims serious and need to ensure a proactive approach to investigations, communication and accountability as it related to workplace harassment claims, sexual harassment, retaliation, bullying, workplace violence concerns, etc.
The Four Categories:
- Leadership and Accountability: “The cornerstone of a successful harassment prevention strategy is the consistent and demonstrated commitment of senior leaders to create and maintain a culture in which harassment is not tolerated.”[i]
- Comprehensive and Effective Harassment Policy: “A comprehensive, clear harassment policy that is regularly communicated to all employees is an essential element of an effective harassment prevention strategy.”[ii]
- Effective and Accessible Harassment Complaint System: “An effective harassment complaint system welcomes questions, concerns, and complaints; encourages employees to report potentially problematic conduct early; treats alleged victims, complainants, witnesses, alleged harassers, and others with respect; operates promptly, thoroughly, and impartially; and imposes appropriate consequences for harassment or related misconduct, such as retaliation.”[iii]
- Effective Harassment Training: “Leadership, accountability, and strong harassment policies and complaint systems are essential components of a successful harassment prevention strategy, but only if employees are aware of them. Regular, interactive, comprehensive training of all employees may help ensure that the workforce understands organizational rules, policies, procedures, and expectations, as well as the consequences of misconduct.”[iv]
For additional information on the Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment guidance (each of the four have additional recommendations on the website) for your organization and workforce, the link is below:
Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment
Cadillac Tax Updates
Congress passed a law on January 22 to delay the affordable Car Act’s 40 percent excise tax on high-value healthcare plan for two years. The Cadillac tax was set to take effect in 2020, under the new law, the tax will be delayed until 2022.
What to expect in 2022:
- $10,200 for individual coverage ($11,850 for qualified retirees and those in high-risk professions).
- $27,500 for family coverage ($30,950 for qualified retirees and those in high-risk professions).[v]
Under the new administration we could see significant changes to the Affordable Care Act and healthcare in general. Continue to monitor for updates and changes, that can and will impact your workforce. If you are confused seek guidance, healthcare law continues to evolve in complexity at the federal and state levels.
A new year brings new changes to our organizations, employment relationships, laws, regulations, handbooks and policies. As more states continue to pass state specific legislation, we need to ensure that our handbooks and labor posters are updated accordingly.
Below are 5 areas to watch related to employee handbooks:
- Workplace Conduct and Social Media: Under the new administration, we could see more flexibility in social media policies (pro-employer). Social media is a concern in many organizations, ensure that your policy is legal, up-to-date and not overreaching.
- Arbitration Agreements: There are multiple lawsuits in federal courts related to employer arbitration agreements. These decisions can impact our organizations. I have not implemented arbitration agreements. However, they are growing in popularity.
- Sexual Harassment/Harassment Policies: This speaks for itself. California and Maine have modified their current laws related to sexual harassment, we could see significant changes in New York State, as stated by the Governor recently. Ensure that there is a zero-tolerance and retaliation policies in place, and all employees are trained on current policies and procedures. Organizations need to be proactive and not reactive to issues.
- Parental Leave: Paid Family Leave was effective January 1, 2018. Ensure that you have updated policies and handbook language to reflect this significant legislative change. The state has a website full of information to utilize as we move forward in 2018.
PFL Resource Page
Model Language for Employer Material
- Disability and Other Accommodations: Review language related to the ADA, FMLA and medical marijuana. Medical marijuana law(s) continues to evolve. “In 2017, several courts ruled that registered medical marijuana users who were fired or passed over for jobs because of their medicinal use could bring claims under state disability laws.”[i]
As laws continue to evolve, now is the time to review handbooks, policies and procedures. If you are unclear on a path-forward or what to look for, seek guidance. Do not assume a Google search will provide legal and accurate information, draft handbook language or valid training material.
2018 IRS Mileage Rate:
“Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also a van, pickup or panel truck) will be:
- 5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
- 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, unchanged from 2017.”[ii]
Mandatory State Labor Law Poster Changes Effective January 2018:
- Alaska— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Arizona— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- California— Transgender Rights, effective Jan. 1, 2018, Discrimination, Jan. 1, 2018
- Colorado— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Florida — Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Hawaii — Wage and Hour Laws, effective July 10, 2017, OSHA, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Maine — Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Minnesota–– Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Missouri— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Montana— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Nevada — Rules to Observed by Employers, effective July 1, 2017
- New Jersey— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- New York— Minimum Wage, effective Dec. 31, 2017
- North Carolina — Wage and Hour Notice to Employees, effective Dec. 31, 2017
- Ohio— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Rhode Island — Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- South Dakota — Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Vermont— Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnancy, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Washington— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018, Your Rights as a Worker, Jan. 1,2018
As always-if you feel uncertain or want an extra set of eyes, finding a consultant or strategic legal partner is a good idea. For more information about these subjects, click on the links here or reach out to schedule a meeting and consultation.
-Matthew W. Burr
In late December 2017, the IRS announced an extension for employer’s providing Affordable Care Act forms to employee’s. As the future of the Affordable Care Act is still undecided, employers should be proactive in distributing and communicating information to the workforce.
Below are 4 updates for the ACA:
- Extension: The IRS extended the date to March 2, 2018 to distribute the 2017 forms to employees. This is a 30-day extension to the regularly scheduled date of late January 2018.
- Penalty: “The IRS, which announced the extension December 22 in Notice 2018-06, also said it will not impose penalties on employers that can show that they made good-faith efforts to comply with the Affordable Car Act’s (ACA’s) information reporting requirements for plan year 2017.”
Information Reporting Requirements for Plan Year 2017
- IRS Filing Deadline: The due dates for filing 2017 returns with the IRS is not extended. The due dates to file information returns with the IRS remain; February 28 paper filers and April 2 electronic filers.
- The Future and Beyond: “Although this is the third year that the IRS has granted transition relief for reporting, the notice states significantly that the IRS does not anticipate granting transition relief for 2018 or future years,” Jost pointed out. “This statement highlights the fact that, although the individual mandate penalty is repealed as of 2019, the reporting requirements that support it, as well as the employer mandate, remain in effect.”
Affordable Care Act (ACA) Tax Provisions
As leader’s, we must be proactive in approaching the Affordable Care Act’s current and future legislation. As the individual mandate penalty is repealed, the healthcare law is still the law of the land, for now. Continue to watch for more changes in 2018 and 2019. The ACA is complex, seek guidance if you are unclear on a path-forward.
Below is a link to the NYS Paid Family Leave Resources:
NYS Paid Family Leave Employer Webinar
PFL Resource Page
Model Language for Employer Material