Retirement plan limit increases

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced last week that it has increased the contribution limits for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans.  The total contributions amounts has increased $500 from $18,500 to $19,000 for plan year 2019.  In addition, the “all sources” contribution maximum increase $1,000 to $56,000.  These limits on contributions are adjusted each year due to inflation.  The catch-up contributions for employees who are age 50 or older remains unchanged at $6,000 because that is not adjusted along with inflation but set by law....

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EEOC Sexual Harassment Update Fall 2018

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a Press Release yesterday encouraging employers to take “concrete steps to change their workplace cultures to prevent harassment”.  The EEOC held a meeting yesterday at their headquarters in Washington D.C. as it has been 12 months since the #MeToo movement first exploded in the media in October 2016.  Long before the #MeToo movement gained momentum, the EEOC assembled a Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace to try to ascertain the progress made in the last 30 years of anti-harassment efforts.  This Special Task Force released a report in June 2016 in which they state that sexual harassment in the workplace is still a significant problem and that many of the employer awareness and educational efforts have done little to reduce or prevent it. The EEOC released the final 2018 fiscal year data regarding its efforts to fight or prevent workplace harassment.  The report included data that showed a 13.6% increase in sexual harassment charges and nearly 50% increase in harassment lawsuits.  EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic and Select Task Force Co-Chair Chai R. Feldblum, stated that there needs to be a holistic approach to fighting and preventing (more…)

LifeWorks October Feature: Work-Life Balance and Productivity

October Feature: Work-Life Balance and Productivity Ten Tips for Fitting Work and Life Together Would you like to move beyond feeling stressed or overwhelmed by your personal and work responsibilities? Or learn how to achieve personal and professional success on your own terms? “Knowing how to manage the way work and life fit together is a modern skill set we all need to succeed,” says Cali Williams Yost, an internationally recognized flexible workplace strategist and author of the books Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day and Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You. Here are Yost’s 10 strategies: Remember that work-life fit is unique for each of us. “Simply put, there is no work-life balance or perfect 5050 split between your work and your personal life,” Yost says. “If you do happen to hit a balance, you can’t maintain it because your realities are always changing, personally and professionally.” There’s also no “right way” to achieve a good work-life fit. Your goal is to find your unique, ever-changing fit, the way your work and personal realities fit together day-to-day and at major life transitions. Don’t compare yourself to others. Find the fit that’s right for...

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Notice of Proposed Change to OSHA Injury Reporting

Notice of Proposed Change to OSHA Electronic Injury Reporting Regulations The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced on July 27, 2018 that it has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would change the Electronic Injury Reporting Regulations (29 CFR Part 1904) for employers with 250 or more employees. OSHA is proposing this change due to a heightened concern that employee Personally Identifiable Information may be at risk of disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Currently, all EMS employers must submit their annual injury and illness data to OSHA through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA). Historically, employers were required to track all workplace injuries and illnesses and maintain records of those incidents in the workplace on the OSHA Form 300, 301, and 300A. Each year, employers are required to post a Summary of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses on the Form 300A from February 1st through April 30th. In May 2016, OSHA amended the regulations requiring all employers to submit their Form 300A Summary electronically through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA). Employers with 250 or more employees were required to electronically report all injury and illness data from Forms 300, 301, and 300A each year. Initially OSHA...

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Do You Offer Equal Paternity Leave?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that Estée Lauder, the beauty product manufacturer, has entered a settlement agreement in the amount of $1.1mm to settle a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of 210 male employees who allege that Estée Lauder discriminated against them on the basis of their gender.  The allegations included that Estée Lauder provided “new fathers less paid leave for bonding with a newborn, or with a newly adopted or fostered child, than it provided new mothers. The parental leave policy at issue was separate from medical leave received by mothers for childbirth and related issues. The EEOC also alleged that the company unlawfully denied new fathers return-to-work benefits provided to new mothers, such as temporary modified work schedules, to ease the transition to work after the arrival of a new child and exhaustion of paid parental leave.” The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania last August alleging unlawful sex discrimination in violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The U.S District Court entered a consent decree July 17, 2018 awarding the male members of the class action...

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Supreme Court Overturns 1977 Union Dues Ruling

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in a case that many municipal employers and labor unions have been anxiously awaiting because it may change the power of organized labor in this country.  The ruling in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, (AFSCME), overturned a 1977 decision that required governmental employees who chose not to join the union to pay union dues.  The plaintiff in this case was a teacher who argued that the union takes political positions and contributes to political causes that are often contrary to his own personal beliefs and that requiring he financially support those causes violates his right to free speech under the Constitution.  The union argued that it is unfair for non-union employees benefit from the collective bargaining effort of dues paying union members and that this ruling will give those employees a “free ride”.  In the opinion, drafted by Justice Alito, said that the majority “conclude that this arrangement violates the free speech rights of nonmembers by compelling them to subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern.”  This decision will likely impact the level of union membership in this country, which is currently at about...

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Massachusetts Legislative Update

Last week the Senate passed a measure (HB 4640) that would raise the Massachusetts Minimum Wage to $15.00 per hour incrementally over the next five years. The Bill would also phase out the time and a half pay that some retail establishments who currently must pay employees who work on Sundays and certain holidays and establishes a permanent tax holiday. Governor Baker and Massachusetts law makers were eager to move this initiative in an effort to block a ballot initiative. The Bill would also establish a paid family and medical leave program for workers. The paid leave program will be funded by a new .63% payroll tax with contributions from both employers and employees. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees will not have to contribute to the fund. The program would go into effect on January 1, 2021 and would provide for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave, 20 weeks of medical leave, up to a total of 26 weeks in a year. Workers on leave would be paid a portion of their weekly wage with the average cost being $4.25 per employee per week. The Bill has been sent to Governor Baker’s office for consideration but will...

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