With 2015 right around the corner, we broke down the most talked about changes and what to expect in the next year for you and your company.
Ohio’s minimum wage will automatically increase to $8.10 per hour on Jan. 1, a 15-cent bump over the current pay. For tipped employees, the minimum wage rises to $4.05 per hour, a six-cent increase.
Ohio is one of 23 states that have a minimum wage higher than the $7.25 federal minimum. Washington has the highest rate at $9.32 per hour.
The minimum-wage increases apply to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $297,000 per year.
Updates to the Expired Forms
As of December 31, 2011, the FMLA forms for medical certification, leave designation, and certification related to service member leave expired. Six weeks after those forms expired, the DOL passes new, unexpired forms to its website. Those new forms currently hold an expiration date of February 28, 2015.
There has yet to be any talks about what the DOL will update-if anything. But there will probably just be a change in the expiration date again.
You can view those forms here.
ACA Employer Mandates
The employer mandate will take effect in January 2015 for companies with 100 or more full-time equivalent employees. Organizations will use information about the number of employees they employ and their hours of service during 2014 to determine whether they employ enough employees to be an applicable large employer for 2015.
The IRS has a Q&A related to Employer Shared Responsibility Provisions under the Affordable Care Act. To review these questions click here.
Affirmative Action Update
The OFCCP has released its final rule implementing Executive Order 13672 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by covered federal contractors and subcontractors. The rule will apply to new and modified contracts entered into or modified on or after April 8, 2015.
Contractors need to modify their documents to include sexual orientation/gender identity and ensure EEO training specifically notes discrimination on the basis sexual orientation and gender identity are now prohibited.
For additional guidance on all affirmative action questions, contact Doug Brown at Alexander and Bryce.
Women and Pregnancy, Childbirth, or Related Medical Conditions
The Pregnancy Disability Act (PDA) requires that a covered employer treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work.
The PDA covers all aspects of employment, including firing, hiring, promotions, and fringe benefits (such as leave and health insurance benefits). Pregnant workers are protected from discrimination based on current pregnancy, past pregnancy, and potential pregnancy.
Refer to the Policy Guidance to Related to Pregnancy Discrimination for additional information.
The laws on same-sex marriage vary from state to state. Companies are starting to run into problems when it comes to benefits for such states. For larger companies that have multiple organizations throughout the U.S., in one state it may be legal, but in another state it’s not.
However, following the momentum of the U.S. v. Windsor opinion, more states are likely to take up legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, altering benefits eligibility for more employees in more states.
Consult with your employment attorney regarding changes to your employee handbook and expanding benefits to same-sex couples.
Family Medical Leave Act Reminders
The Department of Labor published several FMLA resources in the last two years. Here is a quick look at some of the FMLA resources available to assist employers and employees with questions related to FMLA.
Employee Guide to FMLA
FMLA question and answer booklet, the FMLA Employee Guide, was put together to answer questions about who can take FMLA leave and what protections FMLA provides to employees.
In the guide, certain FMLA guidelines are outlined, such as:
- Who can use FMLA
- When can employees use FMLA
- What can the FMLA do for employees
- How do employees request FMLA leave
- How to communicate with employees
- Medical certification
- What are employee reinstatement rights when returning to work and,
- How to file a complaint
The guide is meant to be used as a tool when communicating with employees about their FMLA rights and responsibilities. There are several flowcharts and maps to help explain how everything works. For a look at the complete guide, click here.
Employee Guide to Military Family Leave
Another guide was released, outlining military leave under the Family Leave Act. In this guide, you will find an explanation of the protections available to military families, including qualifying emergency leave and military caregiver leave.
Also, you can find a number of FMLA requirements that apply to military families, including:
- Who is allowed to use military leave
- What the FMLA military family leave entitlements are
- Leave related to deployment of a military member
- Leave related to a serious injury or ill service member of veterans (military caregiver leave)
- General FMLA rights and responsibilities
- How to file a complaint
If you have a military family in your workplace, it would be best to see all of the regulations in The Employee’s Guide to Military Family Leave.
Fact Sheet Offering Guidance on the Definition of Child
The FMLA permits employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to care for a son or daughter with a serious health condition. As long as the son or daughter is under the age of 18, they do not have to be disabled for the employee to qualify to take FMLA leave.
As long as the child is under 18 and there is proof of a serious health condition, then there are no other questions to be asked to take FMLA leave. However, if the child is over the age of 18, the son or daughter has to meet four criteria for the employee to qualify for FMLA leave:
- Have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disability Act (ADA)
- Be incapable of self-care due to their disability
- Have a serious health condition
- Be in need of care due to their serious health condition
To see the fact sheet on Son or Daughter, 18 Years of Age or Older under the Family and Medical Leave Act, visit here.
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