Takeaway Message: Except in limited circumstances, current regulatory guidance prohibits an employer from maintaining a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) that reimburses the cost of premiums for individual health insurance policies purchased by employees in the individual market. Proposed regulations (found here) aim to eliminate this prohibition, if certain conditions are met.
On November 8, 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued 4 new opinion letters providing both employers and employees further insight into the agency’s views regarding compliance with federal labor laws.
While the letters touch on a variety of issues, perhaps the most notable change involves the DOL’s about-face regarding the amount of “non-tipped” work an employee can perform while still receiving a lower “tip-credit” wage. Essentially, this new guidance does away with the previous “80/20” rule regarding tipped employees. Under the 80/20 rule, businesses were barred from paying employees traditionally engaged in tip-based work, like servers and bartenders, a lower minimum wage and taking a tip credit for the other portion of the employee’s wage up to applicable state and federal minimum wage requirements when those employees’ side work, like napkin folding or making coffee, accounted for more than 20 percent of the employee’s time.
The New York City Council just passed two bills that will require employers to provide lactation rooms to breastfeeding employees, as well as develop a lactation policy and processes for employees to request accommodations for nursing.
The first bill, Int. No. 879-A, amends the administrative code of the City of New York to require employers to provide a “lactation room” for employees needing to express breastmilk. The lactation room must be a sanitary place, other than a restroom, where employees can express breastmilk “shielded from view and free from intrusion.” At a minimum, the room must include an electrical outlet, a chair, a surface on which a breast pump and other personal items can be placed, and nearby access to running water. In addition, both the lactation room and a refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage should be in reasonable proximity to the breastfeeding employee(s)’ work area.
It has been just over a month since Massachusetts’ comprehensive noncompetition reform law took effect. We explained the key provisions of the law last summer.
Since then, what have we learned and what questions remain?
- The New Review Period
The new law requires that applicants be given any covenant not to compete for review by the earlier of (a) the time a formal offer of employment is made; or (b) 10 business days before the commencement of employment.
Under most circumstances, this timeline is doable. However, employers who need to make a quick hire — where the start date is less than 10 business days from the date an offer is made — are left wondering how to satisfy the review period requirement. Many employers in this tight spot distribute the draft non-compete agreement during the interview process and notify applicants that the agreement is contingent upon receipt of a formal employment offer. To ensure that compliance with the law is well documented, many employers are also including language in the agreement itself in which the employee acknowledges timely receipt.
Over the last few months, we have been bombarded constantly with various people across society discussing sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement. Recent news events have led to spirited and sometimes disruptive discussions within the work environment as people take sides in the ongoing political and societal debate.
However, the current environment also provides human resources professionals with an intriguing opportunity. It is a good time to rethink employers’ anti-harassment employment policies, as well as how to conduct training on harassment and opportunities for reporting.