Employers have been buffeted over the last several years by significant changes in labor and employment laws at the federal, state and local levels, and 2015 was no exception. As the year draws to a close, here is a recap of some of the more significant developments.
Affordable Care Act
In King v. Burwell, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Congress intended for a federally-facilitated marketplace to be included in the phrase “an Exchange established by the State” in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The result is that in the states without a state-operated exchange:
In July, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a Memorandum stating that “Most workers are employees under the FLSA [federal wage and hour law]” when it issued Administrators Interpretation No. 2015-1: The Application of the Fair Labor Standard Act’s “Suffer or Permit” Standard in the Identification of Employees Who are Misclassified as Independent Contractors. The guidance explains that the “suffer or permit to work” definition in the statute is extremely broad and covers more workers as employees than would be covered if the analysis were limited to the employer’s control over the worker. The DOL guidance implicates other federal statutes that apply the FLSA’s definition of “employ,” including the Family and Medical Leave Act.
FLSA / Wage Hour Law
In August, the DOL proposed to drastically increase the annual salary threshold for the “white collar exemptions” under the FLSA by over 100 percent – from $23,500 to $49,950. Additionally, the new salary level would be indexed to rise every year. The new salary requirements are expected to take effect sometime in 2016 or 2017.
States and municipalities continue to enact “ban the box” legislation, which restricts employers from seeking information regarding a job applicant’s criminal history during certain points in the hiring process. While there are several variations, most “ban the box” laws prevent employers from requiring that a job applicant disclose his or her criminal history on a job application. Some, though not all, “ban the box” laws permit employers to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history during the interview process. Within Saul Ewing’s footprint, the following jurisdictions have implemented laws restricting inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia. Employers in Philadelphia should take note that Mayor Nutter just signed legislation significantly expanding the City’s “ban the box law” to prevent employers from conducting a criminal background check on applicants before extending a conditional job offer. These new restrictions take effect in March 2016.
NLRA / Traditional labor Law
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
Click here for more information on the OSHA website.
Philadelphia Paid Sick Leave Ordinance – Requires covered employers to provide most employees with up to five paid sick days per year.
A Look Ahead to 2016 – Employers can expect more changes in 2016, including the aforementioned changes to salary threshold for the FLSA’s white collar exemptions, changes to Philadelphia’s “ban the box” law, and long-awaited changes to the Department of Labor’s rules regarding the use of consultants during union organizing campaigns, among other changes. We will preview all of that and more in our next piece: Labor and Employment Outlook for 2016, coming in January.