Here are a few state updates in HR compliance areas you may want to pay attention to. I know it is not sexy but you need to know this stuff.
Crack down on Independent Contractors
I have written a number of times on the fact that the USDOL does not like companies to use the Independent Contractor classification. It appears their assumption is that employers use it to avoid paying taxes and overtime. Unfortunately in some cases they are correct. The USDOL and the IRS want that money. As it turns out a number of states also want the money. For states it is not only a tax situation but also a Workers’ Comp issue.
To this end the State of New York has now become the 15th state to join forces with the USDOL in “combatting” misclassification. The other 14 states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Utah, and Washington. According to Forbes “The memoranda of understanding executed between the DOL and New York State authorities ensure that federal and State regulators will coordinate future misclassification initiatives and share useful data and information. Likewise, the partnership is expected to enhance the State Department of Labor’s own efforts to crack down on misclassifications.”
If you are using Independent Contractors you need to make sure you are doing so correctly because the Federal government and an increasing number of states are out to get you.
Social Media and Unemployment
New Jersey seems to be on its way to matching California in the number of employment related laws. Effective December 1, 2013 the governor signed a bill that makes it illegal for employers to require of either applicants, or employees, that they provide their sign-ins for private social media sites. I personally never thought that was a good idea anyway. New Jersey is not the first, nor the last, to make this change.
New Jersey has also gotten tired of employers who respond poorly to unemployment claims. To this end now if an employer makes a mistake in a response or is late in making this response the state’s reaction will be “tough!”
Speaking of California
California has expanded its FMLA law. According to the Gillieon Law Firm “Existing California law provides for a state fund to replace 55 percent of wages for employees who leave work to care for a newly born or adopted child or to care for a gravely ill child, spouse, parent or domestic partner. The new law extends the same 55 percent replacement to employees who leave to care for grandparents, siblings, grandchildren and parents-in-laws who are seriously ill.”
In addition to expanding the FMLA law California also has extended these rights to same-sex partners, domestic partners, their children, grandparents, siblings and in-laws. Additionally companies with 25 or more employees must provide 10 days of unpaid leave to military spouses of active duty personnel on leave during a conflict. These employers must also provide 40 hours of unpaid leave for parents to attend their children’s school activities.
Then California has also laid ground work for minimum wage hikes by having Governor Brown sign a bill increasing the minimum wage to $10 by 2016.
Speaking of minimum wage
A good number of states have higher minimum wages than the Federal $7.25 per hour. Most of these are indexed to the Consumer Price Index. The ones with higher minimum wages for 2014 include:
- Arizona: $7.90
- California: $8.00 (increase to $9.00 on July 1, 2014 and $10.00 on January 1, 2016)
- – San Francisco: $10.74
- – San Jose: $10.15
- Colorado: $7.78 (increase to be announced January 1, 2014)
- Connecticut: $8.70 ($9.00 effective January 1, 2015)
- Florida: $7.93
- Illinois: $8.25
- Maine: $7.50
- Massachusetts: $8.00
- Michigan: $7.40
- Missouri: $7.50
- Montana: $7.90
- New Jersey: $8.25
- New Mexico: $7.50
- – Albuquerque: $8.60
- Nevada: $7.25 for employees who receive qualifying health benefits, $8.25 for employees who do not receive qualifying health benefits.
- New York: $8.00 ($8.75 on December 31, 2014, $9.00 on December 31, 2015)
- Ohio: $7.95
- Oregon: $9.10
- Rhode Island: $8.00
- Vermont: $8.73
- Washington: $9.32
Take note of these and any other local jurisdiction requirements. The Federal tipped minimum wage of $2.13 is also different in a number of states.