Archives for May 2016

U.S. Dept. of Labor Issues New Rules for Overtime Pay

Effective December 1, 2016, new rules will be in effect to cover overtime pay requirements. The long-anticipated changes were the subject of numerous comments after they were proposed in 2015. They focus on updating the salary thresholds for overtime pay purposes and include the following:

  1.  An increase in the minimum salary that must be paid to white collar workers who otherwise are exempt from overtime pay requirements, from $455/week to $913/week ($47,476 per year). Workers who make less than these amounts must receive overtime, regardless of other factors;
  2. An increase in the ‘highly paid’ employee exemption for white collar workers from $100,000/year to $134,004/year. Workers whose earnings exceed these amounts will be exempt from overtime pay; and
  3. A mechanism for automatically adjusting the minimum and highly paid thresholds to keep up with inflation.

The Department expects the changes to cause 4 million new workers to qualify for overtime pay. The changes have been in the works since 2014, when President Obama instructed that the regulations be updated. After publishing proposed rules, the Department received nearly 300,000 comments.

 

Massachusetts Legislators Debate Bill to Provide 12 Weeks of Paid Leave for Employees

The Massachusetts state legislature is considering a bill that would not only provide family leave for employees who now are not entitled to it, but would set up a fund to pay at least part of their lost wages.

Titled “An Act establishing a family and medical leave and temporary disability leave insurance program,” the bill has numerous sponsors in both the House and Senate.  It is currently being considered by the Labor and Workforce Development Committee and is due to be reported out on May 16. Citing the large number of Massachusetts employees who are not entitled to leave provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) due to company size – and decrying the fact that FMLA leave is unpaid and thus difficult for many employees to use in any event – the bill’s sponsors contend that the new law is needed to protect employees who face serious personal or family emergencies.  Among its provisions as currently formulated are the following:

  1. 12 weeks of job protected leave for serious personal /family illness or to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child;
  2. Partial wage replacement in the form of temporary disability coverage that will be funded by employer contributions;
  3. Continued coverage by employers for health care on terms in effect for employees before they begin a leave; and
  4. A one-week waiting period in cases of personal illness and an exemption from funding obligations for employers who provide paid leave benefits, both of which are aimed at controlling costs.

Eligibility for the Act’s benefits would begin after an employee works 1,250 hours for his/her employer. Penalizing employees who take leave would be prohibited. If enacted, the new law will be administered by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). Violators will be subject to the same penalties as apply in discrimination cases generally, including payment of an affected employee’s lost wages, emotional distress and legal fees.