Dear valued clients and supporters: This month's newsletter will focus on significant and immediate changes to state and federal employment laws.
Update to Federal Law
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), significant changes to the Act were poised to go into effect in a matter of days (Dec 1, 2016). We covered these changes in detail in a previous article, but in short, unless an employee meets certain job performance requirements (the duties test) and earns at least $47,476.00 per year, that employee was going to be entitled to overtime pay for each week they worked in excess of 40 hours. The existing law sets that monetary threshold at $23,600 per year.
However, a federal court in Texas issued a nation-wide injunction yesterday that now temporarily prevents these changes from going into effect on December 1, 2016. Thus, for the time being, the threshold remains at $23,600. Notwithstanding this, employers are still advised to consider whether they are complying with the "duties" test under FLSA - irrespective of the uncertainty regarding the salary level. The "duties" test functionally looks at the day-to-day responsibilities given to an employee. As a general principal under FLSA, an employee who meets the salary level and the salary basis tests is exempt only if s/he also performs exempt job duties. Whether the duties of a particular job qualify as exempt depends on what they truly are - job titles or position descriptions are of limited usefulness in this determination. It is the actual job tasks that must be evaluated, along with how that particular job task "fits" into the employer's overall operations.
Update to State Law
As of December 31, 2016 the minimum wage in New York State is set to change. The changes vary depending on the industry, number of employees and location. For example, the minimum wage is different if you are in the fast food industry. It is different if you employee more than 11 people and different again depending on whether your business is located in NYC vs. Nassau/Suffolk County vs. Upstate NY - as in all three have different rates with different effective dates. We covered these changes in detail in a previous newsletter.
Employers should likewise be aware that the Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA) requires them to give employees written notification of these pay changes at least seven (7) days in advance of the effective date. Alternatively, an employer may issue a new paystub that contains the notice of wage increase. The written notice must be in English and also in the employee’s primary language if it is not English. Employers must obtain a signed and dated written acknowledgement of the pay change from the employee following the same language guidelines. Employers who violate these requirements may be subject to civil penalties of up to $50 per day, per employee.