Paycheck Protection Program Funding Update

The Department of Treasury has announced that the $350 billion appropriated under the CARES Act for the Paycheck Protection Program has been exhausted. However, Congressional leaders are currently negotiating an economic stimulus package to act as a bridge between the CARES Act and the next comprehensive package stimulus package. A core provision of the bridge package is an allocation of an additional $250 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. If your operation is in the process or plans to apply for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, you should move forward with your efforts. The AAA is advocating that the bridge package or next comprehensive package include more funding for ambulance services.

FFCRA Emergency Paid Leave Posting

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Emergency Paid Leave Posting As many of you are aware, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Emergency Paid Family & Medical Leave Act and Emergency Paid Sick Leave provisions become effective tomorrow, April 1st.  I had hoped that the U.S. DOL would have published draft Regulations by the close of business today and prior to April 1st to give employers an indication as to how these provisions will be administered by the U.S. DOL.  As of the time of this email, the U.S. DOL has not published anything aside from the Frequently Asked Question (FAQs).  The U.S. DOL published FIELD ASSISTANCE BULLETIN No. 2020-1 that states that they will not bring enforcement actions against any employer who is out of compliance provided they can demonstrate that they have made a reasonable good faith effort to comply with the law.  We will make sure that we notify you as soon as the draft Regulations are published to ensure your organization is compliant. In the meantime, covered employers are required to post the Federal Employee Notice or the Non-Federal Employee Notice  in the same locations that they post similar notices by April 1, 2020.  Additionally,...

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Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Overtime Update

The U.S. DOL issued the final rule that will update the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) beginning on January 1, 2020. Under the final rule, nearly 1.3 million workers who were previously exempt from overtime pay will now be eligible. These changes, which were initially proposed by the Obama Administration in 2015, were updated under the Trump Administration this year to provide an increase to the minimum salary level under the so called “white collar” exemptions. The minimum salary level will increase from $455 per week to $684 (new level $35,568 annually) for those employees who meet the “white collar” positions as Executive, Administrative, Professional or Computer employees.  Services are encouraged to conduct an analysis of all positions that they currently pay on an exempt salary basis to ensure that these roles will continue to meet the exemption requirements under the new FLSA provisions. Assistance is available for all AAA members. Please email info@ambulance.org with any questions....

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U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Overtime Rule

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Overtime Rule The U.S. Department of Labor (U.S. DOL) issued the final FLSA overtime rule which will make nearly 1.3 million workers eligible for overtime pay. In the announcement published yesterday, the DOL finalized the first updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in fifteen years. This ends a several-year battle over the adjustments to the FLSA which have continued since they were initially published in 2015 during the Obama Administration. The new rules become effective on January 1, 2020, which will give employers a few months to prepare. The changes to the FLSA include updates to the standard salary level for each of the exemptions to the overtime provisions. Under the new rule, the minimum salary threshold would increase from the current level of $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year). In addition, the Highly Compensated Employee (HCE) salary level is increasing from $100,000 to $107,432 annually. Also, the rule permits incentive pay and bonuses to count towards up to 10% of the standard salary level provided it is paid at least annually. These changes will require that employers conduct an analysis of any...

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The Paycheck Fairness Act

Following many states that have enacted laws geared towards preventing or eliminating inequities in pay between men and women, The Paycheck Fairness Act which was introduced on March 27, 2019, will prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their salary histories or using those histories to base pay or compensation rates.  The Act would require that employers to justify any pay disparities as job-related and would also permit employees to file class action lawsuits based on pay discrimination.  Numerous states around the country have passed laws that prohibit pay history inquiries.   It is strongly recommended that employers conduct a wage analysis to identify any pay disparities between individuals from any of the protected classes performing comparable work....

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DOL Issues Long-Awaited Proposed Overtime Rule

On March 7, 2019, the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) issued the long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) which proposes changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime provisions.  These proposed changes, which are detail in the 219-page document, follow nearly three years of legal actions challenging the USDOL’s 2016 proposed FLSA overtime changes. A quick history on these proposed changes.  On May 23, 2016, the USDOL issued the 2016 FLSA proposed overtime rule changes that would have more than doubled the minimum salary thresholds for the so called “white collar” overtime exemptions.  Under the 2016 proposed rule, the minimum salary threshold would have increased from $455 per week ($23,660 per year) to $913 per week ($47, 476 per year) and the Highly Compensated Employee (HCE) salary level from $100,000 to $134,000 annually.  Just before the changes were about to become effective, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas invalidated the proposed rule stating that the USDOL lacked the authority to propose these changes.  Shortly thereafter, the proposed changes were put on hold. This latest proposed rule formally rescinds the 2016 proposed rule and would provide for updates to the standard salary level...

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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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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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July Brings Legal Changes for Employers in Many States

Oregon Statewide Transit Tax Important notice to ambulance service employers based in the state of Oregon: there is a new statewide transit tax taking effect on July 1, 2018. Beginning July 1st, employers must start withholding a tax of 1/10th of 1% from the wages of Oregon residents or from non-residents who perform services in Oregon. The Department of Revenue has published detailed information on the statewide tax with a list of available resources to assist employers with compliance. Iowa Lowers Standard for Positive Alcohol Tests Effective July 1, 2018, Iowa employers may lower their standard for taking employment action for positive alcohol tests from the old state standard of .04 to .02. Iowa has one of the strictest employment drug and alcohol testing requirements in the country. Employers are required to have a written policy that is distributed to all employees and job candidates for their review. Employers must establish a drug and alcohol awareness program alerting employees of the dangers of drug and alcohol use in the workplace, and most employees must be provided an option to enter a rehabilitation program instead of being disciplined. In addition, all supervisory staff must attend a two-hour initial drug and alcohol...

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IRS Notice 1036

The Internal Revenue Service has released Notice 1036, which updates the income-tax withholding tables for 2018 reflecting changes made by the tax reform legislation enacted last month. This is the first in a series of steps that IRS will take to help improve the accuracy of withholding following major changes made by the new tax law. If you have a payroll service, they should be ensuring that your organization is using the correct withholding tables.  Employers should be using these new tax withholding amounts as soon as possible but no later than February 15, 2018.  If you need assistance with ensuring that your organization is utilizing the appropriate withholding schedule....

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EMS Employer Year-End Wrap-Up and Preview

2017 was a bit of a wild ride in the employment realm.  The Trump Administration worked to change the trajectory set during the eight years of the Obama Administration.  This past year, we saw the undoing or attempts to undo many of the Obama Administration initiatives, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) updates, changes to the Persuader Rule, interpretations of Title VII as it relates to transgender protections.  Not to mention the repeated attempts to chip away at the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In addition, there were several new requirements for employers that went into effect in 2017 and a few upcoming in 2018.  Here is a quick review to ensure that your service is up-to-date and compliant. The Fair Labor Standards Act Changes These changes, which would have more than doubled the minimum salary levels for those “White Collar” exemptions, were set to go into effect back in 2016.  A Federal Court in Texas enjoined and put on hold these changes until the question of whether the Department of Labor (DOL) had the authority to unilaterally change the Regulations.  In July, 2016, the DOL published an Request For Information (RFI) with responses due in late September, requesting input...

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401k Contribution Increase Announced

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced last week that it will increase the maximum 401k contribution from $18,000 to $18,500 for 2018.  Also increasing is the maximum contribution by both employer and employee from $54,000 to $55,000 for next year. This is the first time in several years that the IRS has increased these maximum amounts. Plan administrators should adjust their systems to reflect the new contributions limits and ensure that they appropriately notify all employees about the changes....

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New I9 Form Released

Last January we alerted members that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that employers would be required to utilize the new Form I9 starting in September 2018. The new Form I9 was finally published on July 17, 2017. (Tip: The new version is identifiable as it features an expiration date in the top right corner of August 31, 2019.)

Employee Wage Deduction Restrictions

I often get questions from ambulance services regarding the things that employers can deduct from an employee’s wage. Many year ago, it was commonplace for employers to deduct the cost of uniforms or vehicle accident repairs if they were found “at fault” for the accident from employee wages. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the Federal law that restricts or governs the deductions an employer may take from an employee’s paycheck. The HR Daily Advisor published a great article about the restrictions surrounding deductions from an employee’s paycheck. As always, contact the AAA with any questions regarding this or any other Human Resource or employment law compliance question....

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FLSA Salary Threshold Rule Delayed Again

There has been a great deal of discussion over the last few months about the new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rule changes that were due to be implemented on December 1, 2016.  We informed members that an injunction had been issued by a federal judge delaying the implementation of the changes that would more than double the salary thresholds for those who are eligible to earn overtime under the “white collar” exemptions.  The USDOL has requested further 60 day delay to allow them to file their brief in the injunction hearing.  Learn more about this delay and our prior AAA Advisories on FLSA and we will continue to keep members posted about any future movement with regard to this issue.

February Employment Law Updates

Last month I suggested that many of our states are the incubators for employment legislation and that ambulance services need to keep an eye on legislation at the local level and get involved if the legislation effects your business.  The leader in employment legislation from a state perspective is California.  This article highlights several pieces of legislation that were filed this year that will impact employers. As I have stated several times in prior posts, webinars, and live sessions, the “Ban the Box” movement is growing momentum.  California has introduced a bill that will extent current “Ban the Box” protections applicable to State and City employers to private employers.  This would prohibit inquiries about a candidate’s criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment was made. This is just one of the bills that were introduced.  The other include, Right to Work, Veteran’s Preference, and Employees and dependents Reproductive Health protections.  In addition, Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez introduced legislation that may drastically impact private EMS providers and how they operate their service. Last December the Department of Labor released final rule revising the claims procedure requirements for disability benefit plans under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  The new rules are (more…)

New I-9 Form Required

New Form I9 Effective January 22, 2017 All employers are required to begin using the new Form I9 starting on January 22, 2017. The new form can be found on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. To ensure that you are utilizing the correct form, an expiration date of August 31, 2019 is in the top right hand corner of the form. Last year we were aware of several ambulance providers who were the subject of Form I9 audits by the USCIS which resulted in technical violations for failing to complete the form correctly. The Form I9 is the document all U.S. employers are required to have completed when hiring a new employee to assure that they are legally eligible to work in the United States. While there has been a reduction in Form I9 Audits from USCIS in 2015, employers should be prepared as the five year trend is on the rise and I am aware of several ambulance providers currently dealing with audits. The Law The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 requires employers to examine documentation from each newly hired employee to prove his or her identity and eligibility to work in the...

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HR Wrap-Up: A Look Back at 2016

As we wind up 2016 I thought it would be a good idea to review the year’s human resource and legal developments to ensure that our members are compliant and prepared for what faces them in 2017.  We knew that this was going to be an interesting year as we experienced the most unusual Presidential Election in our history.  It overshadowed everything else that occurred in 2016.  As the Obama administration comes to its final days, employers and ambulance providers saw some of the most sweeping regulatory changes. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) The biggest change facing employers in 2016 was the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime changes.  The Department of Labor (DOL) issued updated regulations which were to become effective December 1, 2016, raising the minimum salary thresholds for the so called “white collar” exemptions.  Under the new regulations, the minimum salary would increase from $455 to $970 per week.  For those employees earning under the new amount, employers would need to decide if they are going to raise the salary level or pay the employee overtime for hours worked over 40 in one week.  The changes have not gone into effect yet as a 5th Circuit Judge...

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