February 2019 HR Regulatory Updates

by Camille Bradbury on February 7, 2019

This blog post covers timely federal and state legislative employment updates. Check out what you need to know and gain compliance tips to help you stay on top of HR, the right way. Click on the federal topics or state names below to catch up on the latest news.

FEDERAL Updates

STATE Updates

FEDERAL Updates

ACA Exemption for Contraception


Who: President Trump changed a mandate under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowing employers with religious and moral objections to opt out of providing no-cost contraceptive care to women.

When: January 14, 2019

What:
On November 7, 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced two final rules allowing private employers to opt out of the ACA mandate that requires group health insurance to cover contraceptives.

How:

  • The religious exemption rule lets nonprofit, for-profit employers, and public companies get an exemption based on religious beliefs or moral objections.
  • This is an optional accommodation process for certain exempt entities that wish to use it voluntarily.

OSHA Retracts Part of Electronic Records Rule and Reminds You to Post!

Who: Employers required to comply with OSHA reporting

When:

  • Submit OSHA Form 300A electronically by March 2, 2019
  • Post OSHA 300A February 1-April 30, 2019

What:
On January 24, 2019, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) eliminated the requirement that business with 250 or more workers electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report). Employers must still electronically submit OSHA Form 300A.

How:

  • For covered employers, submit your OSHA 300A form to OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) no later than March 2, 2019.
  • Employers must also provide their Employer Identified Number (EIN) with OSHA 300A form.
  • OSHA Form (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report) needs to be updated and available onsite for OSHA inspections.
  • Check your state plan to see if they have fully adopted OSHA’s regulations.
  • Employers that are covered by OSHA recordkeeping must post Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, in a noticeable place in their facility February 1, 2019, through April 30, 2019.
  • Remember: KPA clients can easily pull OSHA 300 within our software to make compliance easier for you.

Additional Resources

Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) Penalty Violations Increase

Who: Employers audited by OSHA

When: January 23, 2019

What: 
Last month, the Office of Federal Register published the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act for 2019. This final rule increases civil penalties assessed by the U.S. Department of Labor or OSHA.

Below are the new penalty levels for 2019 violations:

  • Maximum Penalty Serious or Other-than-Serious Violation: $13,260
  • Maximum Penalty Failure to Abate Violation: $13,260 per day beyond the abatement date
  • Maximum Penalty for Willful or Repeated Violations: $132,598 per violation

How:

  • To help protect your business from citations and increased penalties, work with KPA and your safety committee to perform frequent audits. You can also take advantage of KPA’s online safety training to reduce your risk.
  • Ensure you accurately report injuries and illnesses and have proper documentation and issue management.

Important Affordable Care Act Dates You Need to Know About

Who: Employers with 50+ employees required to comply with the Affordable Care Act

When: 

  • Form 1095 – B (Health Coverage) and Form 1095 – C (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage): Furnish to employees by March 4, 2019 (automatic 30-day extension)
  • Form 1094 B & Form 1095 B: File on or before February 28, 2019, if filing by paper and by April 1, 2019, if filing electronically.
  • For large employers, Forms 1094 and 1095: File on or before February 28, 20,19 if filing by paper and by April 1, 2019, if filing electronically.

What:
The Trump Administration has granted employers leniency for Affordable Care Act deadlines.

How:

  • Employers with 50 or more employees must provide Form 1094-C and 1095-C and employers that are smaller need to provide form 1094-B and 1095-B to employees to comply with the Affordable Care Act.
  • Follow new effective dates.
  • Ensure you have the most recent form and go to the following website links:

EEO-1 Reporting In Light of the Government Shutdown

Who: Employers with 100 or more employees or federal government employers with 50 or more employees that are contractors or first-tier subcontractors with a minimum of $50,000 contracts must file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

When: Delayed until May 31, 2019

What:
One of the many effects of the government shutdown was its impact on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). By this time, employers would normally be preparing their EEO-1 reports, gathering appropriate information, and receiving communication from the EEOC. However, the partial government shutdown delayed EEOC correspondence with employers and its portal has not opened yet.

How:

  • Start collecting your employees’ information from your last payroll cycle.
  • Choose the best work cycle to pull the data from.
  • Employers are not permitted to omit employees who choose not to identify.
  • The EEOC’s portal will open early March 2019.

Independent Contractors Included in Truck Driver Exemption Under Federal Arbitration Act (FAA)

Who: Industries that hire truck drivers as employees or independent contractors

When: Effective immediately

What:
On January 17, 2019, in New Prime Inc. v. Oliviera, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 1 of the Federal Arbitration Transportation Act (FAA) excludes truck drivers even if they are independent contractors. The FAA applies to a wide variety of industries, but there is an exemption under Section 1 for interstate truck drivers. It excludes interstate drivers from coverage regardless of whether they are independent contractors or employees.

How:

  • Employers will no longer be able to treat independent contractors differently from employees under the FAA’s Section 1 exemption.
  • It is still possible to arbitrate with truck drivers and if you employ these workers, consider seeking counsel to create the right agreements in the event of legal issues.


STATES

Michigan

Michigan’s Paid Sick Leave Act Effective in March

Who: Employers with 50+ employees

When: March 29, 2019

What:
On September 5, 2018, the Michigan legislature approved a ballot measure, known as the Earned Sick Time Act (ESTA). This was a statewide mandate that would have required employers to provide employees with earned sick time for certain covered absences. On December 5, 2018, the Paid Medical Leave Act (PMLA) narrowed the scope and overhauled the mandate.

How:

PMLA highlights:

  • Eligible employees located in the state of Michigan must be employed for 25 weeks or more in a calendar year. Employees can accrue paid family medical leave at the rate of 1 hour for every 35 hours worked.
  • Employers are not required to allow an eligible employee to accrue more than 1 hour of paid medical leave in a calendar week.
  • Employers may limit an eligible employee’s accrual of paid medical leave to 40 for the benefit year.
  • Employers are not required to carry over more than 40 hours of unused accrued paid medical leave from one benefit year to another benefit year, and they are not required to allow an eligible employee to use more than 40 hours of paid family medical leave in a single benefit year.
  • Employers are required to display a poster explaining paid medical leave by March 29, 2019.

Minimum Wage Increase for Michigan

Who: All employers with employees in the state of Michigan

When: March 29, 2019

What:
The Improved Workforce Opportunity Wage Act will increase the hourly minimum wage rate to $12.00 through a series of phased annual increases through 2022. The first of these increases raises the minimum wage from $9.25 to $9.45 on March 29, 2019.

How:

  • Schedule payroll wages to update on March 29, 2019.
  • Post updated minimum wage posters on March 29, 2019, in a visible location for all employees.


New Mexico 

Sante Fe Minimum Wage Increase

Who: All employers in Sante Fe and Sante Fe County

When: March 1, 2019

What:
Employers with employees in Sante Fe and Sante Fe County must increase the minimum wage to $11.40 per hour.

How:

Employers should display the new minimum wage poster in a prominent place at their facility by March 1, 2019.


New York 

New York City Employers Must Provide Lactation Accommodation Rooms

Who: Employers with 4+ employees

When: March 18, 2019

What:
Qualifying employers must provide lactation rooms and create a written lactation-accommodation policy to give to workers at the time of hire. This space must not be a bathroom and must offer privacy for a female employee to express breastmilk. The space must be close to running water and a refrigerator. The room also needs an electrical outlet, a chair, and a flat surface. You must also implement a lactation room accommodation policy.

How:

  • If you don’t already have a private lactation room, create a designated space now for that meets the above specifications.
  • Provide new employees with a lactation accommodation policy.
  • If it will cause undue hardship for your business to provide a lactation space, engage in cooperative dialogue with employees who need to express milk for their infant children.

Westchester County, New York to Provide New Paid Sick Leave

Who: Private employers located in Westchester County with 5+ employees

When: March 30, 2019 **Multiple effective dates are listed in various articles. Seek legal counsel for the effective date.

What:
Westchester County’s Paid Sick Leave Law pertains to full-time and part-time employees who work more than 80 hours per year.

How:

      • In light of various interpretations on this law, you may want to consult with a reputable employment law firm on how best to implement the law’s provisions.
      • Employees accrue one hour of sick time for 30 hours worked with a total maximum of 40 hours of sick time per year.
      • Earned sick time can be used by the employee or for a family members physical illness, injury or health condition; need for medical diagnosis, care or treatment of illness, injury or health condition; or preventative care; presence in community is a danger to others determined by a public health official; and closure of employee’s business or child’s daycare or school due to public emergency.
      • Employers need to retain records for 3 years of employee’s sick time accrual and any sick time taken. Failure to retain these records is a violation of the law.
      • A poster must be posted by employers and a copy of the law provided to employees at the time of hire or within 90 days of the law going into effect.
      • Provide employees with a written policy covering the requirements of the law and how to request sick leave.

Additional Resource

Westchester County, New York Ban the Box

Who: Employers with 4+ employees in Westchester County

When: March 4, 2019

What:
Employers are prohibited from discriminating against an applicant’s criminal history on the applicant’s application.  However, employers can ask applicants about their criminal history during an interview or before a conditional offer is made. A background check can be performed after the application is submitted. Employers may need to perform an analysis of the applicant’s criminal record under Article 23-A. before taking adverse action.

How:

      • Employers need to update employment applications by removing the questions regarding criminal convictions, arrest, or criminal charges.
      • Ensure that recruiters and hiring personnel are trained and informed of the ban the box law.

New York’s Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA)

Who: All employers in New York State

When:

      • February 24, 2019
      • Hate crimes tied to gender identity or expression take effect November 1, 2019

What:
This Act amends the New York City Human Rights Law to include crimes against transgender and gender non-conforming people. Gender identity or expression is defined as “a person’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, behavior, expression, or other gender-related characteristic regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth, including, but not limited to, the status of being transgender.” New York City becomes the 20th state to enact protections for transgender people.

How:

Review your anti-harassment and non-discrimination policies to ensure they cover transgender people. You’ll also want to understand that discrimination claims may include back pay and compensatory damages.

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Camille BradburyFebruary 2019 HR Regulatory Updates