Mar 022016
 

Oregon will soon see a three-tiered incremental minimum wage increase. Beginning July 1, 2016, the minimum wage in Oregon will increase at three different rates depending on location within the state. Employers in Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary will see the largest annual increases, while employers in frontier counties will see the smallest. The annual breakdown of the rate increases from 2016 until 2022 is as follows, with each increase taking place on July 1:

  1. Within Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary: $9.75, $11.25, $12.00, $12.50, $13.25, $14.00, $14.75
  2. Frontier Counties*: $9.50, $10.00, $10.50, $11.00, $11.50, $12.00, $12.50
  3. Remaining Areas: $9.75, $10.25, $10.75, $11.25, $12.00, $12.75, $13.50

Starting in 2023, the rates will be annually adjusted for inflation.
Currently we do not know how the new minimum wages will apply to companies that operate in multiple counties with varying minimum wages. The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries will soon issue rules explaining this, and we will notify you once these rules are published.

*Frontier counties include Malheur, Lake, Harney, Wheeler, Sherman, Gilliam, Wallowa, Grant, Jefferson, Baker, Union, Crook, Klamath, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Umatilla, and Morrow.

 Posted by at 08:51
Dec 192015
 

An amendment to Oregon’s previous social media law will go into effect January 1, 2016. It makes it unlawful for employers to do any of the following:

  • Require or request that an employee or an applicant establish or maintain a personal social media account.
  • Require that an employee or applicant authorize the employer to advertise on a personal social media account.
  • Take or threaten to take any adverse action against an employee for refusing to establish or maintain a personal social media account.

As before, employers may not require or request that an employee disclose any personal social media user names or passwords. As before, if employers need to conduct an investigation, they may require an employee to share content that has been reported to the employer and that is necessary for the employer to make a factual determination about the matter under investigation.

 Posted by at 19:21
Dec 192015
 

Beginning January 1, 2016, Oregon employers will be required to provide up to 40 hours of sick time each year, depending on how many hours an employee works. Employers with 10 or more employees (six or more for Portland employers) must offer these hours as paid sick time.

Who Is Covered?
The law applies to most employees—exempt, non-exempt, full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal. However, the law excludes a very small number of categories of employees from coverage: independent contractors, employees who receive paid sick time under federal law, participants in certain work training and work-study programs, certain railroad workers, and individuals employed by their parent, spouse, or child. There is no exception for small employers; organizations with one or more employees will be required to provide sick time.

Accrual
An employee will begin to earn and accrue sick time on the first day of employment or on January 1, 2016, if they are already employed at that time. Sick time must accrue at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked. An employee who is exempt from overtime requirements is presumed to work 40 hours in each workweek for the purpose of accrual of sick time unless the actual workweek of the employee is less than 40 hours, in which case sick time accrues based on the actual workweek of the employee.

An employee must be allowed carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick time to the subsequent year. An employer must restore previously accrued unused sick time to an employee who is reemployed by that employer within 180 days of separation.

Use
Employees may take sick leave to care for themselves or a family member. Uses include mental and physical illness, injury or health condition, need for medical diagnosis, care or treatment for a physical or mental illness, injury or health condition, need for preventative medical care, any acceptable use under the Oregon Family Leave Act, to seek legal or medical services if the employee is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or in the case of a public health emergency. Employees are also allowed to donate accrued sick time to another employee if their employer allows it.

Compliance Requirements
Employers must provide written notice of the law’s requirements to each employee. The Bureau of Labor and Industries has provided a poster for this purpose.

Employers should also provide written notification, at least quarterly, to each employee of the amount of accrued and unused sick time that remains available for use. Pay statements may be used to satisfy this notification requirement.

Next Steps
Employers who already have sick time or PTO policies in place should determine if their current policies will meet the requirements of the new law. Employers who do not currently offer sick time should determine how they plan to implement the new requirements. All employers should ensure that they have the appropriate notice and record keeping procedures in place prior to January 1, 2016.

Ask your Time 4 Payroll representative if you need assistance in implementing Sick Leave tracking at your company.

 Posted by at 19:17
Dec 192015
 

Effective January 1, 2016, House Bill 3025 makes it unlawful for an employer to exclude an applicant from an initial interview solely because of a past criminal conviction. Under the new law, an employer cannot require an applicant to disclose a criminal conviction on a job application or otherwise prior to an initial interview or, if no interview is conducted, prior to making a conditional offer of employment. Of course, employers may still consider an applicant’s conviction history when making a hiring decision.

Portland recently passed its own “Ban the Box” rules that will go into effect July 1, 2016. As of that date, most employers in Portland with more than six employees will be required to wait until after making a conditional job offer before asking about a prospective employee’s criminal history. Additionally, the employer may not consider arrests that didn’t lead to a conviction, criminal histories that were expunged, or charges that were dropped because the applicant participated in a diversion program for crimes that didn’t involve physical harm or attempted physical harm.

 Posted by at 19:13
Aug 032015
 

On December 29, 1970, Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law, calling it “probably one of the most important pieces of legislation” ever passed by Congress. In a nutshell, the Act says workplaces must be “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.”

These hazards were far from negligible. At the time, an estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job every year. The Act created an administration agency under the U.S. Department of Labor—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA was tasked with setting and enforcing protective workplace safety and health standards, as well as providing information, training, outreach, and assistance to employers and workers.

Who Does OSHA Regulate?
OSHA has jurisdiction over most employers. The agency covers private sector employers and employees in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other U.S. jurisdictions. Some states have an OSHA-approved state program, which must be at least as stringent as the Federal OSHA program, handling coverage for that state.

What Does OSHA Do?
OSHA sets standards or rules employers must follow to protect their workers from hazards. These standards include requirements to provide fall protection, prevent exposure to some infectious diseases, ensure the safety of workers who enter confined spaces, prevent exposure to harmful substances, and install guards on machines.

OSHA enforces these rules by conducting inspections . When it finds violations, it may issue citations and fines and require prompt remediation. OSHA gave its first citation to a chemical company for exposing workers to mercury. Since then, the agency has noted nine million violations and issued 36 health standards. It currently regulates 470 substances. OSHA’s effect? Since the agency began, the daily fatal work injuries rate has dropped from 38 to 12 and work-related injuries and illnesses have decreased by 40%.

What Does OSHA Mean for Employers?
Under the Act, employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Employers must follow relevant OSHA safety and health standards, find and correct safety and health hazards, inform employees about workplace hazards, provide personal protective equipment where required, post OSHA materials, notify OSHA of fatalities or serious work-related injuries, keep accurate records of work-related injuries and illness, and refrain from retaliating against workers for exercising their rights under the Act, such as calling the agency about dangers in the workplace.

How Does OSHA Help Employers?
Fundamentally, OSHA helps employers by providing them with guidance and information that will reduce the risk of injury in the workplace; this is valuable both financially and as a way to keep employees – an organization’s most valuable asset – healthy and safe. Employers who would like to be proactive, or feel they may be in need of assistance with OSHA requirements, can request a free on-site consultation. OSHA provides this service for small businesses with no penalties or citations attached. OSHA also provides services through compliance assistance specialists, cooperative programs, and training and education materials.

 Posted by at 12:11
Aug 032015
 

Following a directive from President Obama, the Department of Labor has proposed changes to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rules regarding the executive, professional, and administrative exemptions (also called the white collar exemptions). Under the proposed rule, the annual salary requirement for a white collar exempt employee would more than double to approximately $50,000. This more-than-doubling of the salary requirement would mean that approximately five million workers who are currently exempt from overtime and minimum wage requirements would no longer qualify for an exemption.

In addition to the white collar salary requirement increasing, the proposed rules call for the salary requirement for exempt highly compensated employees to increase from $100,000 to about $122,000 per year. Finally, the rules contain a mechanism by which both the white collar and highly compensated employee salary requirements will adjust annually.

Before these proposed rules can go into effect, there will be a notice and comment period, followed by time for the Department of Labor to review and respond to comments and draft final rules. The last time large revisions were made to the FLSA, in 2004, 13 months elapsed between the introduction of the proposed rules and the release of the final rules. As before, we expect a large number of comments and much opposition from the business sector, and therefore a similarly long span of time before the rules are finalized. While it will likely be mid-to-late 2016 or even early 2017 before any changes to the FLSA white collar exemptions go into effect, given the sizeable increase to the salary requirement, we recommend employers begin to consider how they will handle the new requirements in their organization.

 Posted by at 12:09
Aug 032015
 

Question:  Our employees often don’t turn their timesheets in on time. If an employee doesn’t submit his sheet on time, can we delay processing his paycheck until the next pay period?

Answer: It is the employer’s obligation to pay employees on the established payday regardless of whether a timecard has been submitted. There is no exception to the law that allows an employer to withhold payment until the timecard has been turned in. When you don’t have a timecard, you can comply with the law by paying all of the wages that you reasonably know are due for an employee’s regularly scheduled work period.

Normally, overtime pay earned in a particular workweek must also be paid on the regular pay day for the pay period in which the wages were earned. You may, however, delay payment for overtime wages that can’t be determined until after the regular pay period. The delayed payment of overtime wages earned in one payroll period must generally be no later than the payday for the next regular payroll period.

You can certainly discipline employees for failing to accurately record and report their time, particularly if you have a written policy and it has been a problem with an employee more than once, but holding the paycheck as a method to gain compliance could subject your company to significant liability in the form of a wage and hour claim.

 Posted by at 12:06
Jan 022015
 

After controversy, debate, and delays, the Employer Mandate has arrived. This provision of the Affordable Care Act (also known as the “Play or Pay” provision) requires all employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to offer a certain level of health insurance coverage at an affordable rate to all full-time employees or face a possible penalty.

Large employers (those with 100 or more full-time equivalent employees) that do not comply with the Employer Mandate may begin incurring penalties in each month of the 2015 tax year. Midsized employers (those with 50-99 full-time equivalent employees) enjoy an additional year of reprieve (to 2016) as long as the organization did not reduce its workers’ hours/workforce to get below the 99 employee threshold without a bona fide reason or materially reduce its health care plan as it existed on February 9, 2014. Employer Mandate penalties are incurred on a monthly basis, but paid annually.

It’s important to note that the IRS will only apply Employer Mandate penalties to an organization if the employer is subject to the Employer Mandate, fails to comply with the Mandate, and has at least one full-time employee shop in the Marketplace and receive a federal premium subsidy. Employers have no control regarding whether a full-time employee opts to shop in the Marketplace, so the only fool-proof way to avoid penalties is to follow these three steps:

  1. Offer a health insurance plan that meets the minimal essential coverage requirements;
  2. Offer at least one such plan at an “affordable rate”; and
  3. Offer at least one such plan to all full-time employees regularly working 30 or more hours per week and their dependent children.

If you follow these three steps, your organization will be immunized from any type of Employer Mandate Penalties, regardless of which employees opt to shop in the Marketplace or what types of premium subsidies they receive.

With the implementation of the Employer Mandate comes new IRS reporting requirements. Employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees must begin Section 6056 (Employer Mandate) reporting for the 2015 tax year. These forms will be filed with the IRS and provided to employees in early 2016. Although the actual reporting will not be performed until early 2016, some of the data included in the reporting must be classified by month. So now is the time to begin tracking this data.

Employers subject to the reporting requirements must complete and submit one Transmittal Form (IRS Form 1094-C) for the organization and one Employee Statement (IRS Form 1095-C) for each employee. Employers that sponsor a self-funded health plan have additional reporting requirements. The IRS draft forms are available in your HR Support Center.

Anxiety is understandably high in regard to both the Employer Mandate and the new IRS reporting requirements associated with the Mandate. The penalties have the potential to be substantial for some employers, and the regulations are somewhat tedious and technical. Some anxiety can be mitigated by reviewing the “Navigating the Employer Mandate” guide, which provides detailed common-sense instructions on how to comply with the Employer Mandate, including sample penalty calculations, IRS reporting requirements and much more.  Your Certified Public Accountand and Human Resources Professional can also be great resources for you.

 Posted by at 08:28
Dec 222014
 

Two requirements of health care reform that affect employers will be going into effect on January 1, 2015. First, after much debate and delay, the first phase of the Employer Mandate (or “Play or Pay” Provision) will begin. Once it is fully implemented, this provision of the Affordable Care Act will require all employers with 50 or more full time equivalent (FTE) employees to offer a certain level of health insurance coverage at an affordable rate to all full-time employees or face a possible penalty.

For 2015, only non-compliant large employers (those with 100 or more FTE employees) will face penalties. Midsized employers (those with 50-99 FTE employees) will have an additional year of reprieve (until 2016) so long as the organization did not (1) reduce its workforce or workers’ hours to get below the 99 employee threshold without a bona fide reason or (2) materially reduce its health care plan as it existed on February 9, 2014. Employer Mandate penalties are incurred on a monthly basis, but paid annually.

With the implementation of the Employer Mandate comes new IRS reporting requirements. Employers with 50 or more FTE employees must begin Section 6056 (Employer Mandate) reporting for the 2015 tax year. These forms will be filed with the IRS and provided to employees in early 2016. Although the actual reporting will not be performed until early 2016, some of the data included in the reporting must be classified by month. So now is the time to begin tracking this data. The IRS draft samples for both required reporting forms (1094-C and 1095-C) are available in your HR Support Center.

For more information on these soon-to-be-effective provisions and how they may affect your organization, we encourage you to review our “Navigating the Employer Mandate” white paper in your HR Support Center or contact your HR Professional.

 Posted by at 19:20