The employment legal landscape continues to evolve. Here are a few legislative changes that are slated to take effect in 2016 under federal law.
Minimum Wage Increase for Federal Contractors: Two years ago, a minimum wage for federal contractors was established for work performed in connection with covered contracts with the federal government. On January 1, 2015, the minimum wage requirement was set to at least $10.10 per hour. Effective January 1, 2016, the minimum wage rate is set to increase to $10.15 per hour. The Order applies to (1) procurement contracts for services covered under the Service Contract Act, (2) procurement contracts for construction covered under the Davis Bacon Act, (3) concession contracts, and (4) contracts entered into in connection with federal property or lands that are related to the offering services for federal employees, their dependents, or the general public.
Federal Contractors Pay Secrecy Policies and Actions: Effective January 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) under Executive Order 13665 (which amends Executive Order 11246) announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to prohibit pay secrecy policies and actions by covered Federal contractors and subcontractors. Federal contractors are prohibited from discharging or discriminating in any other way against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss, or disclose their own compensation or the compensation of another employee or applicant.
Proposed Rule Changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act: On July 6, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making in which it announced a proposed rule that would increase the minimum salary required for a worker to be classified as exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the proposed rule, the minimum salary level required for the overtime exemption would increase from $455 per week or $23,660 per year, to $970 per week or $50,440 per year. Additional proposed rule changes include a new minimum total annual compensation requirement for qualification as a highly compensated employee under the FLSA and a newly established mechanism for annually updating the minimum salary and compensation levels for exempt employees. Comments to the proposed rule changes were accepted by the DOL through September 4, 2015. Final regulations have not yet been published but are expected to be issued sometime in 2016.
Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA): The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has had a top priority over the past two years of enforcing the rights of pregnant workers. It is believe that the PWFA will become law in 2016 as it is already before congress.
The PWFA is expected to establish new guidelines which are designed to protect the rights of expectant parents. It is expected to mandate employers to make accommodations for the realities which arise from pregnancy, childbirth and associated medical conditions. The ultimate goal is to ensure that employees are no longer put in a position where they have to choose between pregnancy and a job.
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