CapeSpace in Hyannis, Massachusetts, has announced its new Ask the Experts program through which CapeSpace members and visitors can ask burning questions on the topics of the day at no cost. Each week, CapeSpace will feature different CapeSpace members with expertise in a variety of topics, including social media, website development and SEO, money management, payroll, group benefits, and human resources management. Pamela Sande & Associates is thrilled to be a part of this great group of experts. For more information about the program, the experts participating in the program, and schedule, visit CapeSpace’s website at https://www.capespace.com/news-and-events/ask-the-experts/.

The IRS has issued the 2018 inflation adjusted amounts for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs).

The table below compares the limits to the current 2017 limits. As shown in the table, the maximum that can be contributed to an HSA in 2018 for individual coverage will increase by $50, and for family coverage, by $150. The minimum annual deductible for high deductible health plans (HDHPs) will increase by $50 for single coverage, and for family coverage, by $100. The maximum annual out of pocket expenses (i.e., deductibles, copays, and other amounts except for premiums) for HDHPs will increase by $100 for individual coverage, and by $200 for family coverage.

*Important Note: According to the final Health and Human Services (HHS) Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2018 Fact Sheet, the maximum annual out of pocket expenses are $7,350 for individual coverage and $14,700 for family coverage for Affordable Care Act compliance purposes.

For many years, certain employers have been required to file EEO-1 reports annually that show their number of employees by job category and then for each category, the number of employees by gender, ethnicity, and race. Starting with the 2017 EEO-1 report, a new level of reporting is required, which is summary pay data by gender, ethnicity, and race within each job category. For an in-depth look at the controversial requirements, see our latest issue of HR Insights by clicking below.

In addition, for a copy of the new EEO-1 Form, Instructions, and the File Layout/Technical Specifications, visit our Resource page/Legislation, Regulations, and Other Government Provided Materials.

An appeals court has granted the Department of Labor (DOL) a third extension in defending the FLSA regulations that among other things would have increased the minimum salary threshold below which employers must pay overtime from $455 per week ($23,660 annualized) to $913 ($47,476 annualized), effective December 1, 2016. Within two weeks of the effective date (November 22), a federal district court in Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction, effectively putting the increase on hold. While President Obama was still in office, DOL appealed the order. Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, a 30-day extension was granted making the deadline for filing a brief March 2 . A second extension of 60 days was granted bringing the deadline to May 1 to give new DOL leadership time to review the issues. The third extension was granted, bringing the deadline to June 30, because Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta, had not yet been confirmed. Acosta was confirmed as the new Labor Secretary on April 27.

Of note is that during a confirmation hearing, Acosta indicated that if he is confirmed, he would first decide whether DOL would continue to appeal the district court order. If DOL does not continue to appeal the order, a group of union organizations has moved to take over. Acosta also indicated that DOL will review and possibly revise the FLSA regulations and stated that he believed the minimum salary figure should be around $33,000.

Bottom line, we could still see an increase in the minimum salary threshold but it’s more likely to be in the low to mid-thirties range – not $47,476. For now, we all need to sit tight while this continues to unfold.

A new bill, called the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017 (H.R. 1180), was introduced and passed by the House on May 2, 2017. If signed into law, the Act would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow private sector employers to provide compensatory time (aka comp time) for nonexempt employees in lieu of overtime pay, an option currently available to public employers only. If signed into law, the Act would sunset (i.e., cease to be in effect) five years after the date the Act becomes law.

If providing comp time, the number of hours would have to equal at least one and one-half hours for each hour an employee worked overtime. In addition, the following conditions would apply:

  • For a nonunion employee, the employer and employee would be required to have an agreement in place before the employee performs the work. The agreement, which should be in writing, would have to specify that the employer has offered and the employee has chosen to receive comp time in lieu of overtime pay, and that the employee entered into the agreement “knowingly and voluntarily” and not as “a condition of employment.”
  • In the case of a union employee, the collective bargaining agreement would be required to include provisions allowing employees to receive comp time in lieu of overtime pay.
  • No employee (whether nonunion or union) would receive or agree to receive comp time unless the employee had worked at least 1,000 hours during a period of continuous employment with the employer in the 12-month period before the date of the agreement or receipt of comp time.

The bill caps the maximum comp time hours an employee could accrue during a calendar year at 160 hours, and it requires that an employer would have to pay out any accrued comp time not used by the end of the year no later than January 31st. In addition, unused accrued comp time would have to be paid out to an employee who terminates employment, regardless of whether the termination is voluntary or involuntary. The bill also provides that an employer would have to pay out accrued but unused comp time in excess of 80 hours at any time after giving the employee at least 30 days’ notice.

When unused comp time is paid out, it would be considered unpaid overtime compensation, and it would have to be paid at a rate not less than the higher of  the regular rate earned by the employee when the:

  • Comp time was accrued or
  • Employee received payment of the comp time

Other provisions of the bill include:

  • An employer would have to allow an employee who requests to use some of his or her accrued comp time to take the time off within a reasonable period after the request so long as doing so does not unduly disrupt the employer’s operations.
  • Except when a collective bargaining agreement provides otherwise, an employer that has adopted a policy offering comp time to employees could terminate the policy after giving employees 30 days’ notice.
  • An employee who has signed an agreement for comp time could withdraw his or her agreement at any time. In addition, an employee could request in writing at any time that his or her accrued but unused comp time be paid out. An employer would have to pay out the comp time within 30 days of receiving an employee’s written request.
  • An employer could not directly or indirectly intimidate, threaten, or coerce or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any employee to interfere with an employee’s rights to request or not request comp time off in lieu of overtime or require any employee to use his or her comp time.

The House bill passed by a vote of 229 to 197 with no Democrat voting in favor of the bill.  The Senate version of the bill (S. 801) was introduced to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on April 3, 2017. Your PS&A team will keep you informed on any new developments.

Led by Pamela Sande, Managing Principal, and Louise Backaler, Sr. HR Consultant

When: Thursday, May 18, 2017 from 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM EDT

Where: CapeSpace, 100 Independence Drive, Hyannis, MA 02601

 

Workshop Description:

This workshop is for managers and HR staff responsible for recruiting and hiring employees. Participants in this workshop will learn how to:

  • Prepare for and source potential candidates
  • Screen and select candidates for interview
  • Prepare for interviews so that candidates have a positive experience whether or not selected
  • Interview candidates using a variety of techniques, including asking general, behavioral, and situational interview questions
  • Avoid asking questions that are illegal or discriminatory
  • Evaluate candidates using objective criteria
  • Extend offers and follow-up with candidates who are not selected

By using the tools and techniques and guidelines presented in this workshop, an organization should achieve better hiring results that lead to:

  • More satisfied and productive employees who tend to stay longer
  • Employees who have the skills for the job and enjoy their work and their work environment
  • Employees who perform at a higher level and are engaged and motivated to succeed
  • Continental breakfast and beverages will be available.