The employment-related provisions of H.R. 6201, also known as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act) apply only to employers with fewer than 500 employees. However, determining whether a business entity – or a group of separate but related entities – has 500 or more employees is not as straightforward as it may seem. At the same time, the decisions employer make now about how they count employees may have serious collateral consequences later. As a result, employers should approach their Act assessment with added care.
Continue Reading Getting to 500 – employer considerations for meeting the head count exemption threshold in H.R. 6201

As discussed in our client alert addressing the growing COVID-19 crisis, U.S. employers face a number of complicated legal issues as they prepare for the possibility that their workforces will be impacted by the current emergency. In support of that effort, employers should begin preparing to address the following issues.

Before turning to those issues, as mentioned in our previous client alert, employers should strive to make the guiding principles behind all employer responses in this area a combination of compassion for employee impacts and reasonable flexibility. State and federal laws provide many minimum standards, but the best thing an employer can do in the midst of this growing epidemic is to take care of its people. Doing so is not just the right thing to do, but it also encourages employees to be reasonable in return and it mitigates the risk of future conflict with employees or legal exposure.Continue Reading Employer planning focus points for U.S. impacts of novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

For any New York employer who thought that the state’s workplace rules and regulations were too easy to comply with, I have good news for you. Empire State lawmakers recently announced an agreement on the 2016-2017 state budget that includes both a complicated, location-specific minimum wage increase, and a comprehensive paid family leave scheme that will take effect in 2018.

Minimum Wage Increase

The new minimum wage increase announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo presents perhaps the most complex wage scheme the state has ever seen. It accounts for regional differences and staggers implementation over as many as five years in parts of the state. Specifically:

  • For workers in New York City employed by large businesses (those with at least 11 employees), the minimum wage would rise to $11/hour at the end of 2016, then another $2 each year after that, eventually reaching $15 on December 31, 2018.
  • For workers in New York City employed by small businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer), the minimum wage would rise to $10.50/hour by the end of 2016, then another $1.50 each year after that, eventually reaching $15 on December 31, 2019.
  • For workers in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties, the minimum wage would increase to $10/hour at the end of 2016, then $1 each year after that, reaching $15 on December 31, 2021.
  • For workers in the rest of the state, the minimum wage would increase to $9.70/hour at the end of 2016, then another $0.70 each year after until reaching $12.50 on December 31, 2020, after which it would continue to increase to $15 on an indexed schedule to be set by the director of the Division of Budget (DOB) in consultation with the state Department of Labor.
  • The minimum cash wage for food service workers receiving tips would be two-thirds of the minimum wage rates listed above, depending on the location where the employee works.
  • Finally, beginning in 2019, the DOB would review the economy in each region to determine whether a temporary suspension of the scheduled minimum wage increases is appropriate under the circumstances.

Continue Reading New York Announces Minimum Wage Increase and Paid Family Leave Program

On May 27, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published updated model Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) notices and certification forms. Copies of the updated forms, which should be used through May 31, 2018, are available on the DOL’s website.

The most notable change to the forms is their reference to the Genetic