WageWatch Ibrief Blog

Login

Blog Archives

COVID-19: IT IS NOW LAW–EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE

 

Covidi-19

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed into law on March 18, 2020, after the Senate sent it to President Trump for his signature.  The law becomes effective 15 days after President Trump signed it.

Private employers with under 500 employees will need to provide each employee paid sick time to the extent that the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave because:

(1) The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.

(2) The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.

(3) The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.

(4) The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in paragraph (1) or has been advised as described in paragraph (2).

(5) The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the child care provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.

(6) The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.

Additional Provisions:

  • Full time employees will be entitled to 80 hours.  Part time employees are entitled to the number of hours equal to the hours that such employee works on average over a 2-week period.
    • In the case of a part-time employee whose schedule varies from week to week to such an extent that an employer is unable to determine with certainty the number of hours the employee would have worked if such employee had not taken paid sick time, the employer shall use the following in place of such number:
      • (i) a number equal to the average number of hours that the employee was scheduled per day over the 6-month period ending on the date on which the employee takes the paid sick time, including hours for which the employee took leave of any type; or
      • (ii) If the employee did not work over such period, the reasonable expectation of the employee at the time of hiring of the average number of hours per day that the employee would normally be scheduled to work.
  • All employees will have access to the full amount of time off under this Emergency Paid Sick Leave immediately and without regard to how long he or she has been employed.
  • Employers may not require its employees to use any other paid leave provided to him or her by the employer before using the Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
  • Employers who have employees that are health care providers or emergency responders may elect to exclude such employees from this Emergency Paid Sick Leave law.
  • Employers will be required to post (where notices are customarily posted), a notice which will be prepared or approved by the Secretary of Labor outlining the major provisions of this law.  And this new law also requires that the Secretary of Labor make, publicly available, a notice that meets all necessary requirements no later than 7 days after the date of enactment of this law.
  • Paid sick time in terms of wages paid to such individual employees do not need to exceed-
    • $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate for a use described in paragraph (1), (2), or (3) above; and
    • $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate for a use described in paragraphs (4), (5), or (6) above

SPECIAL RULE FOR CARE OF FAMILY MEMBERS UNDER EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE:
Paid sick time provided for any use described in paragraphs (4), (5), or (6) above need only paid at two-thirds of such employees’ wages.

  • Wages required to be paid under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave will not be subject to the 6.2 percent social security payroll tax typically paid by employers on such wages.
  • Employers can employ a “reasonable notice requirement.” After the first workday (or portion thereof) that an employee receives paid sick time under this new law, an employer may require the employee to follow reasonable notice procedures in order to continue receiving such paid sick time.

Also please note that employers are prohibited from requiring, as a condition of

  • Also please note that employers are prohibited from requiring, as a condition of providing Emergency Paid Sick Leave, that the employee involved search for or find a replacement employee to cover the hours during which the employee is using paid sick time.
  • Finally, the language of this amended bill suggests that an employee can use his or her Emergency Paid Sick Leave during the initial 10 days of unpaid leave under the expanded FMLA. The Department of Labor is expected to provide additional guidance within the 15 day window before this law takes effect.

This Emergency Paid Sick Leave law is slated to expire on December 31, 2020.

This guest editor for this blog post is:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.
 

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

COVID-19 AT WORK—RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES

Covid 19 - Workplace

My employee has exhibited signs of Covid-19, has been around others who have, or has tested positive for COVID-19—Now What?

As the House re-sends a slightly re-tooled emergency COVID-19 Bill to the Senate, many Employers are left wondering, “How do I deal with employees in the workplace who have come in contact with a COVID-19 person, who are exhibiting signs and symptoms of COVID-19, or have tested positive for COVID-19.”

First of all, please remember that your Human Resource Department along with frontline Supervisors, Managers and the like should re-familiarize themselves with the company’s plans and policies concerning PTO, sick pay, vacation time or any company benefits impacted. While, as of the writing of this article, the nation has no federally required emergency amended FMLA, paid sick leave or other time off, a company may want to implement its own emergency plan to address employees being absent from work. This may include relaxing parameters for how and when employees may use the existing company provided benefits. For example:

  • In Arizona, employees under the state mandated paid sick leave may not be able to use such sick leave until their 91st day of employment. Perhaps the employer may want to relax this requirement in an effort to persuade new employees, who may feel financial pressure to keep working, to stay home.
  • If your company policy for vacation time allows it to be used only for vacation and not sick time, perhaps you decide to make an allowance in this environment that any time off accrued can run afoul for what it was originally intended.

These are just but two examples of how companies can incentivize employees and build morale, within its own company issued benefits to keep employees at home and its workplace healthier in this unprecedented time.

But what does a company do if an employee suddenly falls ill [who has been at work] or informs you that he/she may have come in contact with a COVID-19 infected person or, tested positive for COVID-19? A company may want to consider any or all of the steps below:

  1. Instruct that employee to stay home for at least the recommended quarantined time of 14 days and encourage them to contact a qualified health professional
  2. Ask the employee when he or she first noticed symptoms
  3. Determine an approximate window prior to the first noticed symptoms identified in #2: a 14-15 day window prior to the date the employee indicated any “first” symptoms.
  4. Ask the employee to recall his or her movements at the company from the date the window in #3 establishes to the date he or she was mandated to stay at home by the company. Those areas of the company should be disinfected.
  5. Ask the employee to recall employees and/or clients he or she may have come in contact with from the date the window in #3 establishes to the date he or she was mandated to stay at home by the company.
  6. Contact the employees identified in response to #5 WITHOUT DISCLOSING THE INFECTED EMPLOYEE’S NAME. Advise them of the situation and have them stay home for a 14 day self- quarantine as well as encourage them to reach out to a health care provider to be tested.

To the extent possible, and if not already considered, all employees that have the capability to work from home, should be working from home in this type of environment. Also remember clear, concise and open communication to calm the workplace is needed.

Guest Blog Editor:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, is a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

 

NLRB REVERTS TO FORMER STANDARD ON USE OF EMPLOYER EMAIL SYSTEMS

NLRB Email

Shortly before Christmas, the National Labor Relations Board re-established the right of an employer to restrict employee use of its email systems to business use only, if it does so on a nondiscriminatory basisThe new decision overrules the standard set in the 2014 Purple Communications, Inc. case and returns to the standard set in the 2007 Register Guard case.

At issue is when employers can restrict the use of their e-mail and other information technology (IT) systems and when doing so interferes with employee rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  In Caesars Entertainment d/b/a/ Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino, the Board overruled the controversial case of Purple Communications, Inc., and held that employees do not have a statutory right to use employers’ email and other information-technology (IT) systems to engage in non-work-related communications, including Section 7 protected, concerted or union activity.

In Purple Communications, the Board held that employees who have been given access to their employer’s email system for work-related purposes have a presumptive right to use that system, on nonworking time, for communications protected by Section 7.  But the new decisions change the standard, giving more weight to employers’ property rights that the previous decision.  The Board reestablished that employers have the right to restrict the use of their equipment, including their email and other IT systems to business and work-related use, provided that in doing so, they do not discriminate against the union or other protected concerted communications.  Recognizing that employees must have adequate avenues to engage in communications protected by Section 7 of the NLRA, the Board’s decision creates an exception for circumstances where the use of employer-provided email is the only reasonable means for employees to communicate with one another on non-working time during the workday.

The Caesars Entertainment decisions reaffirm a long line of decisions holding that the NLRA generally doesn’t restrict an employer’s right to control the use of its equipment.  The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) decision to allow employers more leeway in restricting the use of their email and other communication systems for union organizing is just the latest decision reversing standards set by the Obama-era Board.   If your employee handbook or work rules were revised in 2016 or after to comply with Purple Communications, you may wish to reconsider returning to a business-use-only position in 2020.

Guest Blog Editor:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, is a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on January 22nd, 2020 · Comments Off on NLRB REVERTS TO FORMER STANDARD ON USE OF EMPLOYER EMAIL SYSTEMS

NLRB MODIFIES “QUICKIE” UNION REPRESENTATION RULES

On December 13, 2019, the Board issued a final rule amending its election procedures.  The NLRB uses these procedures to determine whether employees are unionized.  The new amendments extend deadlines and add steps to ensure certain disputes are resolved before employees vote.  Chairman John F. Ring announced, “These are common-sense changes to ensure expeditious elections that are fair and efficient.” The new rules provide:

  • The rule amendments allow more time for employers to prepare for the pre-election hearing.  The new rule extends the time for holding a pre-election hearing from eight calendar days to 14 business days after the petition is filed.  This allows the employer for a longer period before the opening of the hearing than is currently the case.   It also allows the parties and the Board more time to try to resolve issues without a hearing, rather than litigating issues that might have been resolved through negotiation and agreement.
  • The employer will now be required to post and distribute the Notice of Petition for Election within five business days after service of the notice of hearing.  The prior rules required posting and distribution within two business days.  The additional time will permit employers to balance this requirement with other obligations imposed on them by the filing of a petition and guarantee that employees have the benefit of the Notice of Petition for Election for a longer period before the opening of the hearing than is currently the case.
  • The new rule requires unions to respond to the employer’s position statement.  Previously, the entire burden leading up to a pre-election hearing rested on the employer, including the filing of a position statement, or risk waiving the issues at the hearing.  Under the new rule, some of the burdens are shifted to the union.  The union is now required to file a response to the employer’s position statement, or risk having their petition dismissed or the employer’s position on bargaining unit issues accepted by the Region.
  • The new rule allows employers to litigate who are supervisors and who is included in the bargaining unit before the election.  Employers will once again know who is eligible to vote in the election and customize their communication to those employees who will be voting.  Employers will also know in advance who its supervisors and front-line management are during the critical campaign period and who its union-free communications team is.
  • The new rules provide employers with more time to conduct a union-free campaign before the election.  The new rule directs Board officials to set elections no fewer than 20 days after approval of consent election agreement or order and direction of election. This change will come close to returning the pre-election timeline to the pre-expedited election rules average.

Guest Blog Editor:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, is a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on January 22nd, 2020 · Comments Off on NLRB MODIFIES “QUICKIE” UNION REPRESENTATION RULES

WHITE COLLAR THRESHOLD CHANGES ON JAN 1, 2020

White Collar

On September 24, the U.S. Department of Labor’s final rule released the final rules increasing the minimum salary level for the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) “white collar” exemptions from $455 to $684 per week.   Effective January 1, 2020:

  • The salary threshold for “white-collar” raises to $684 a week or $35,568 (up from $455 a week or $23,660).
  • For highly compensated employees (HCEs), it raises the annual compensation to $107,432 (up from $100,000 per year).
  • The rule allows employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payment (including commissions) paid at least annually to satisfy up to 10% of the standard salary level.
  • Revises the special salary levels for workers in U.S. territories and the motion picture industries have been revised to $455 and $1043, respectively.

It will be important for employers to analyze the status of employees who earn below the new salary threshold but were previously exempt.  Employers will have to consider whether to reclassify those employees as nonexempt hourly workers or give them raises to bring them up to the new threshold.  If employees now classified as exempt are reclassified as nonexempt workers, employers should make sure the newly reclassified employees know what is expected of them as hourly workers.

The quiz below was developed by the law firm, Pautsch, Spognardi & Baiocchi Legal Group.

Answer each question as TRUE or FALSE:

  1. Under the new DOL rules, if an employee makes over $35,568 per year, it is permissible to pay the employee on an hourly basis and not pay that employee overtime.
  2. To be considered exempt under the “white collar” exemptions, under either the new rules or the old rules, the employee must supervise at least two other individuals.
  3. Under the new rules, if an employee holds a professional degree, they can be classified as exempt even if they are not paid a salary of at least $35,568 per year.
  4. Under the new rules, exempt employees, who are paid a salary of over $35,568 per year, can be “docked” pay on an “hour-by-hour” basis as long as careful records are kept and they have forms of paid leave to use for the docked time periods.
  5. The FLSA has an overtime exemption for “inside sales” employees that remains unaffected by the new rules.
  6. The FLSA has overtime and minimum wage exemption for “outside sales” employees that remain unaffected by the new rules.

ANSWERS:

  1. FALSE, each of the “white collar” exemptions (“professional”, “administrative”, “executive”) from overtime require that the employee be paid on a “salary basis” in addition to the “duties” standards set for each. As noted below, the “salary basis” test does not apply to “inside” and “outside sales” exemptions.
  2. FALSE, this is true and required for the “executive” exemption, but not for the “administrative”, “professional” and “inside” and “outside” sales exemptions.
  3. FALSE, to qualify for the “professional” exemption, the employee must meet both the “salary” level test (now $35,568) and the “duties” and status requirements of the “professional” exemption, i.e., that the employee holds a professional degree and perform that work as their primary duty.
  4. This can be done lawfully, but it may be inadvisable to do so as it may cause morale problems and can lead to suits if situations occur if “docking” occurs when the paid leave bank has been depleted.
  5. Under federal law, the inside sales exemption applies to employees who earn more than 150% of the minimum wage, derive at least 50% of their income from commissions, and work within the “retail and service industry” as defined under the FLSA.
  6. Under federal law, an employee who qualifies for this exemption is exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime premium requirements.  The employee’s primary duty must be making sales (as defined in the FLSA), or obtaining orders or contracts for services or for the use of facilities for which a consideration will be paid by the client or customer and the employee must be customarily and regularly engaged away from the employer’s place or places of business.  The salary requirements of the regulation do not apply to the outside sales exemption.

Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

LABOR BOARD EXTENDS TIME TO BRIEF STAND FOR EMPLOYEE LOSS OF WORKPLACE PROTECTIONS FOR COARSE LANGUAGE AND CONDUCT

Strike WorkersThe National Labor Relations Board has extended the time to file briefs in addressing when employees lose the protections of the Act for using coarse or racially offensive language.   Amicus briefs not to exceed 25 pages in length were due this past Tuesday, November 12.  The parties are permitted to file responsive briefs not to exceed 15 pages in length on or before November 27, 2019.

On September 5, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board requested briefing on whether the Board should reconsider its standards for losing workplace protections under the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”) for profane outbursts and offensive statements made while engaged in workplace labor disputes.  In its notice, the Board invites the public to provide input on whether to adhere to, modify, or overrule the standard applied in previous cases in which profane outbursts and offensive statements of a racial or sexual nature were judged not to lose the protection of the Act.

The Board asks the parties to address either some or all the following questions:

  1. Under what circumstances should profane language or sexually or racially offensive speech lose the protection of the Act?
  2. The Board has held that there should be some leeway to consider the realities of industrial life and the fact that disputes over wages, hours, and working conditions are among the disputes most likely to engender ill feelings and strong responses. To what extent should this principle remain applicable concerning profanity or language that is offensive to others based on race or sex?
  3. If the norms of the workplace are relevant, should the Board consider employer work rules, such as those that prohibit profanity, bullying, or uncivil behavior?
  4. To what extent, if any, should the Board continue to consider context—g., picket-line setting—when determining whether racially or sexually offensive language loses the Act’s protection?
  5. What relevance should the Board accord to anti-discrimination laws such as Title VII in determining whether an employee’s statements lose the protection of the Act?

The notice seeks comments relating to the following cases: Plaza Auto Center, 360 NLRB 972 (2014), Pier Sixty, LLC, 362 NLRB 505 (2015), and Cooper Tire, 363 NLRB No. 194 (2016).  The Board’s treatment of such language (as well as sexually offensive language) has been criticized as both morally unacceptable and inconsistent with other workplace laws by Federal judges as well as some within the Board, and members of the public.

Contributed by guest author:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs;  www.psb-attorneys.com.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on November 20th, 2019 · Comments Off on LABOR BOARD EXTENDS TIME TO BRIEF STAND FOR EMPLOYEE LOSS OF WORKPLACE PROTECTIONS FOR COARSE LANGUAGE AND CONDUCT

SUPREME COURT ACCEPTS THREE (3) CASES SEEKING TO LIMIT LAWSUITS AGAINST BUSINESSES

The United States Supreme Court building - Washington, D.C., USA

There are three new law cases, impacting employers and business enterprises, that are on the docket of the Supreme Court this Fall.  These cases have been relatively ignored by the media and have the potential to greatly impact businesses.

Case I – Racial Discrimination

Comcast is attempting to stop a lawsuit by Entertainment Studios Networks Inc., which says racial discrimination is the reason it couldn’t get its channels onto the carrier’s cable systems.  At issue is a provision known as Section 1981, a Reconstruction-era law that bars racial discrimination in contracting.  Comcast says the appeals court improperly made it easier to sue under that statute than under other civil rights laws.  Entertainment Studios, owned by comedian and producer Byron Allen, says it tried for years to get its channels carried by Comcast.  The suit alleges Comcast officials refused to reach a deal, even while expanding offerings of less-known, white-owned channels.  The case was dismissed in federal court, but the 9th Circuit revived the lawsuit concluding that the plaintiff only had to show that race was a factor, not that it was the motivating or “but for” to prove discrimination.   The Supreme Court’s decision will decide whether this type of contractual discrimination lawsuit (which can be brought by an enterprise) must be proven by a tougher standard.

Case II – Age Discrimination

In Babb v. Wilkie, the Court will consider the standard of proof for federal government workers who bring claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, as opposed to private-sector employees.  The federal government argued that a strict “but for” standard should apply to federal workers’ claims, meaning that the employee must show the adverse employment action would not have been taken “but for” the employer’s bias.  The employee in the case argued that a more lenient standard should apply that considers whether age bias was a motivating factor for the negative employment decision.

Case III – Employee Retirement Income Security Act

In Intel Corp. Investment Policy Comm. v. Sulyma, a former employee filed a lawsuit against Intel’s retirement plan committee for allegedly breaching fiduciary duties by making poor investments.   The committee defended based upon ERISA’s three-year statute of limitations to file such claims.  Intel argued that the lawsuit is barred because the employee received all the relevant plan investment information more than three years before he filed the complaint. But the employee argued that his claim is timely because he did not discover the problem until he read the investment information, filing the lawsuit.   A result against Intel will result in more claims against employer investment fiduciaries.

Contributed by guest author:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  Contact:  www.psb-attorneys.com.

WageWatch Inc. offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on October 30th, 2019 · Comments Off on SUPREME COURT ACCEPTS THREE (3) CASES SEEKING TO LIMIT LAWSUITS AGAINST BUSINESSES

HOW ENFORCEABLE IS YOUR NON-COMPETE AGREEMENT?

Non-Compete

Does your organization have a non-compete agreement in place?  If so, has it been reviewed recently?  Non-compete agreements are driven by state laws.  Over the past year, there have been a few states that have changed their laws, with changes taking effect next year. The revisions that states are enacting move to restrict using unreasonable non-compete agreements with employees.

Washington, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, and Rhode Island have modified their non-compete agreements this year and are leading the way in non-compete agreement reform.  These states have not adopted a uniform approach, but each state provides some direction to other states that may be considering reform.  Reasonable non-compete agreements are helpful and often necessary for employers to hire individuals without risking that they will then lose their customers if an employee leaves and tries to take clients with them.  However, some agreements go too far and have become unreasonable.

The Washington Statute, effective January 1, 2020, will be unenforceable for employees earning less than $100,000 in total annualized compensation or independent contractors earning less than $250,000 per year.  Non-compete agreements are unenforceable for a period greater than 18 months and the terms must be disclosed to prospective employees no later the time the employee accepts an offer of employment.  In addition, the statute has several employee protection mechanisms in place, such as requiring an employer to pay an employee’s legal fees and damages should they seek to enforce an unreasonable non-compete agreement.

Potential areas to revise with a non-compete agreement include:

  • A threshold for an employer’s salary, anyone making less than the stated amount are excluded from the agreement (i.e., employees making less than $75,000 are excluded from a non-compete agreement)
  • Length of employment; an employee could not be held to a non-compete agreement if they were not employed for at least a year by the employer or terminated or laid off without misconduct
  • Employees faced with an employer that seeks to enforce an unreasonable agreement should be penalized by having to pay the employee’s legal fees and a small number of damages.  It may be a good time to review your non-compete agreement, especially to determine if your agreement is currently relative to any changes in the law that governs it.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

 

 

TRUMP LABOR BOARD PROPOSES EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ELECTION PROTECTIONS

American Wkrs

In the middle of August, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend Part 103 of the NLRB’s Rules and Regulations. The proposed amendment, published in the Federal Register, seeks public comment on amendments that will provide better protection to employee election rights to have a free choice on whether to be represented by a union for collective bargaining with employers.  Three amendments are proposed:

  1. Blocking Charges: The amendment seeks to replace the current blocking charge policy with a “vote-and-impound” procedure.  Elections would no longer be blocked by pending unfair labor practice charges, perhaps for years.  Rather, the amendment would provide for voting, and the ballots would be impounded until the unfair labor practice charges are resolved.
  2. Voluntary Recognition Bar: The Board proposes returning to the rule of Dana Corp. (2007), which provides that for voluntary recognition to bar a subsequent representation petition-and for a post-recognition collective-bargaining agreement to have contract-bar effect- the unit employees must receive notice that voluntary recognition has been granted, and provided a 45-day open period within which to file an election petition.
  3. Section 9(a) Recognition in the Construction Industry: The rule amendment proposes changes in the construction industry, where less-than-majority employee support bargaining relationships established under Section 8(f) cannot bar petitions for a Board election.  To bar an election based upon an alleged Section 9(a) relationship, positive evidence of majority employee support will be required, and cannot be based on contract language alone, overruling Staunton Fuel (2001).

Board Chairman John F. Ring stated: “There are few more important responsibilities entrusted to the NLRB than protecting the freedom of employees to choose, or refrain from choosing, a labor organization to represent them, including by ensuring fair and timely Board-conducted secret ballot elections. We believe that the changes we propose today further the goal of protecting this vital freedom.”

Public comments must be submitted within 60 days of the Notice’s publication in the Federal Register.  Please contact Spognardi Baiocchi, LLP if you would like to retain the firm to submit comments on behalf of your organization.

Contributed by guest author:  Spognardi Baiocchi LLP, a law firm dedicated to partnering with companies of all sizes to find solutions for labor, employment, human resources, and general business needs.  www.psb-attorneys.com.

WageWatch offers accurate, up-to-date benefit surveys, salary surveys and pay practice data that will allow you to stay current with the times.  This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards.  For more information on our services, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.

Posted in Regulatory & Legal Updates on August 27th, 2019 · Comments Off on TRUMP LABOR BOARD PROPOSES EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ELECTION PROTECTIONS

COMPENSABLE TIME

Compensable Time

Employers need to ensure they count all worked hours as paid hours for their non-exempt staff.  For example, when an employee eats lunch at their workstation or desk and their lunch is interrupted by work such as answering phones or email, the employee is working and must be paid for that time because the employee has not been completely relieved from duty.

If the employer has a policy that is expressly and clearly communicated to the employee regarding a specific length of time for a break, any unauthorized extensions of that break time do not need to be counted as hours worked.  Bonafide meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) generally need not be compensated as work time.  However, the employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), doesn’t require employers to provide meal or rest breaks, though some states do require such breaks and the rules can also be different for younger workers.  You can find a list of state meal and rest break laws at the Department of Labor’s website address: https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/meal.htm  and  https://www.dol.gov/whd/state/rest.htm.

Employers that fall under the federal guidelines do not have to pay for meal or rest breaks unless:

  • The employee works through or during their break, or
  • The break lasts 20 minutes or less, or
  • The break is interrupted by work

Some other compensable time under the federal rules can include waiting time, on-call time, attendance at meetings and training programs, travel time and performing work outside of work hours such as checking emails.

Waiting time may or may not be hours worked depending upon the circumstances.  If an employee needs to wait before a duty can start such as a firefighter waiting for an alarm, then the employee is ‘engaged to wait’ and this time is worked time and must be paid.

On-Call time is paid time if the employee is required to remain on the employer’s premises.  In most cases, the on-call time does not have to be paid when an employee is not required to remain on the employer’s premises.  However additional requirements put on the on-call time that further limits the employee’s freedom could require the time to be compensated.

Attendance at meetings or training programs is paid time when any of the following conditions are true:

  • It is during normal hours
  • It is mandatory (if the employee feels that they should or need to attend, then it is mandatory)
  • It is job-related

Travel time may be paid time or not depending upon the kind of travel involved.  Regular commute time to and from the worksite is not paid time.  When the employee works at a different worksite location then any commute time that is greater than the employee’s regular commute time to their usual work site needs to be counted as paid time.

Travel that is part of the regular work duties, such as travel from job site to job site during the workday, is work time and must be counted as hours worked.  Overnight travel is work time and must be paid time

At WageWatch our compensation consultants are focused on your organization’s compensation needs and ready to help you ensure that your compensation programs are supporting your company’s business strategy and objectives and that your pay practices are fair, equitable and non-discriminatory. We can provide your business with compensation surveys and salary reports to help you establish a budget for your merit pay program, including bonuses and incentives. Our innovative company is a leader in the collection of data for surveys and salary reports, which allows us to provide services to a wide range of industries in both the private and public sector. To learn more about our compensation surveys, salary reports, and other services, call 480-237-6130 or contact us online.