Employment law has a constantly changing legal landscape that demands attention particularly within the next couple years. External forces, such as political agendas, congressional sessions, and cultural movements, maintain heavy influence on how the law changes or stays the same. In response to the last two (2) years, employment law is expected to shift in five (5) main legal trends that everyone needs to be aware of…not just employment lawyers. The five (5) main trends expected to shift are: the proposed overtime rule, tip credits, equal pay, paid sick leave regulation, and sexual harassment prevention.
Anyone who works any job is concerned about their ability to charge for the extra hours they work. Under the current federal law, an employee must earn less than Four Hundred and Fifty-Five Dollars ($455) per week, which equates to the current minimum salary. The Secretary of State has asserted support for increasing the minimum salary but cautioned that it would not be close to a previously proposed Nine Hundred and Thirteen Dollars ($913) per week. A decision regarding overtime pay should be released by the end of 2018.
Unless your employment history includes a restaurant job, the concept of tip credits may be completely foreign. Tip credits deal with compensating tipped employees to ensure they meet the federal minimum wage. Most restaurant employees are paid far below the minimum wage of Seven Dollars and Twenty-Five Cents ($7.25). Most restaurants utilize a pooled tip system, which means all tips are collected and evenly distributed. Currently, if an employee makes the minimum wage, they are not eligible to receive any tips without having a special tip credit. A new proposed rule is attempting to remove this regulation and extend pooled tips to previously non-tipped employees. This trend is extremely important all those in the food servicing industry.
Equal pay has been a widely versed, and often controversial, topic. Several states and cities, such as California, Massachusetts, New York City, and Philadelphia, have pushed toward more pay equality. The latest attempt was through getting rid of salary history consideration. At the moment, laws require equal pay for the same work and limit an employer’s ability to consider an applicant’s previous salary. Essentially, an applicant could apply for a job and receive a significantly small salary to fit in with the current equal pay laws. With the cultural discontent toward equal pay constantly rising, there is little doubt that this employment trend will have interesting consequences.
Paid sick leave changes have the opportunity to leave a remarkable impact. As of 2017, several states, cities, and even counties have introduced new paid sick leave laws or expanded those already in place. One common feature found in nearly all new paid sick leave laws is coverage for all employees regardless of employment type (i.e. full-time, part-time, seasonal, etc…). This progress may be slowed down if the Workflex in the 21st Century Act is passed that would allow employers to ignore state or local paid leave laws if they voluntarily offer a guaranteed minimum paid leave program.
Lastly, in response to the culturally charged #MeToo Movement, many have called for more effective and enforced sexual harassment, and prevention, policies. Washington, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have proposed bills that would ban non-disclosure agreements following any sexual harassment cases. Many settlement agreements following sexual harassment allegations also include confidentiality clauses that Representatives from California and New York have co-sponsored a bill to limit. This trend has seen a steady increase on both the legal and societal fronts, which leave have dramatic changes in its wake.
Best practice advice for all employers, employees, and is to stay up to date with all newly proposed legislation in your respective state! Consultation with experienced employment law attorneys and human resource professionals will also prevent any unfortunate legal mishaps.
Links for reference.
For further general information on tip credits: https://www.patriotsoftware.com/payroll/training/blog/tip-credit-small-business-payroll/