In a few weeks, the United States Congress will take a late-summer recess before returning to close out the 111th Congress. Now is a good time to take stock of some of the recent federal law changes, and legislation still being considered, that affect employers and their employment policies.
More than most, this Congress has enacted numerous and substantial changes to the federal employment laws. As an employer, if you haven’t done a thorough review of your employee policy manual in the past year, you would be wise to do so to make sure you are in compliance with the recent changes. Here are examples of two of the many changes that you’ll want to be certain you’ve implemented:
- The Nursing Mother Amendment, which modified the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and requires covered employers to provide break time to nursing mothers for at least the first year of their babies’ lives. The Amendment took effect in March 2010 and requires employers to provide private space, among other accommodations, to nursing mothers. Read more here.
- The National Defense Authorization Act, which amended the Family Medical Leave Act to provide two new types of unpaid military family leave for FMLA-eligible employees: qualifying exigency leaveand military caregiver leave. The new types of leave, while part of 2008 legislation, took effect in January 2009. Read more here.
Other Congressional action to take note of includes:
- The Employee Misclassification Prevention Act, which targets errors, intentional or not, in classifying workers as independent contractors rather than as employees. The proposed law continues to wind its way through the legislative process. On June 17, Seth Harris, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor provided testimony in support of the legislation before a Senate subcommittee. If passed into law, this amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act would (1) subject employers to potential penalties of up to $5,000 for each employee that is incorrectly classified as an independent contractor; (2) imposes additional record-keeping and notice requirements on employers; and (3) make misclassification of employees a federal labor law violation. Read more here.
- The HIRE Act (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act), which provides a payroll tax exemption and tax breaks for certain employees hired from February 3, 2010 through January 2, 2011. One of the requirements is that the employee had been unemployed for at least 60 days prior to the date of hire. Read more here.
If your company policies haven’t kept pace with the flurry of employment law activity during these past two years, consider contacting Garlo Ward to discuss a customized employee policy manual that will bring you up to date.