Welcome to our April 2022 Edition of AlphaStaff Monthly Compliance Updates!

We are pleased to highlight National and State Legal Updates and resources provided by some of AlphaStaff’s trusted legal partners to help guide and keep you in compliance.


COVID-19 Updates

Colorado Employers Still on the Hook for Paid COVID-19 Leave

In 2021, the Colorado legislature mandated employers in the state provide employees with Paid Sick Leave when there is a federal declaration of emergency in effect.  Recently, the declaration was extended another 90 days or until July 15, 2022, meaning the obligation to provide this leave will remain in effect throughout the summer.  Unlike California’s paid sick leave law, Colorado employers do not have to provide additional leave hours to employees.  If employees have exhausted their allotted paid sick leave, they may utilize their accrued sick time or take unpaid leave.   For more information, please visit this link.


State Updates

Alabama Enacts Adoption Promotion Act

Effective July 1, 2022, Alabama employers will be required to allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of family leave when they adopt a child. Employers that must comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act are also subject to comply with this new law. Notably, this leave can be unpaid; however, if the employer offers maternity benefits, the employer must provide similar benefits to adoptive parents. In addition, this leave must be taken within one year of the birth or placement of the child and runs concurrently with any federally mandated leave.  Therefore, impacted employers need to review their current leave policies and adopt the appropriate revisions that comply with the new law. For more information, please visit this link.


Colorado Amends Workers’ Compensation Notification and Poster Requirements

Colorado has extended the amount of time an employee has to report any work injury they sustain. Going forward, employees must notify their employer in writing within 10 days after the occurrence of the injury.  An employee’s failure to provide the proper notice may result in the loss of a day’s compensation until they finally report the injury. The amendment also requires an employer to include specific language in the workplace poster instructing employees on the reporting procedures to follow when they are injured at work. An employer’s failure to display the poster tolls the amount of time an employee has to report the injury until the notice obligation has been satisfied. Please visit this link for more information and example poster language.


Illinois Department of Labor Issues Guidance on Equal Pay Registration Certificate Application

AlphaStaff’s February 2022 Compliance Update discussed the Illinois Pay Equity amendment requiring private employers with 100 or more employees in Illinois to apply and obtain an Equal Pay Registration Certificate (EPRC).  In January 2022, the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) advised they were drafting various training resources to assist employers when applying for the EPRC.  The IDOL updated its website this month with the following training materials and resources: (1) a compliance statement template; (2) a template Excel spreadsheet with the necessary pay data reporting information; (3) PowerPoint slides illustrating how to navigate the EPRC portal; and (4) FAQs clarifying various aspects of the EPRC.  Currently, many employers are stuck in limbo because they are unable to apply for the EPRC until the IDOL advises the employer of their application submission deadline. The Department created a portal where employers provide current business information and a designated point of contact for to receive all IDOL communication. Therefore, it is essential to immediately register your business on the IDOL portal to ensure timely receipt of any time-sensitive communication sent to you by the Department.  As always, AlphaStaff is here for you with the support necessary to complete and submit your application to the IDOL. Please be sure to contact your HRAM promptly after receiving notice to commence the application. For more information, please visit this link or visit the IDOL resource page.


Maine Amends Wage Law Requiring Payout of Accrued Vacation Time at Termination of Employment

Currently, employers in Maine can avoid paying accrued but unused vacation time to a terminated employee as long as they have a written vacation forfeiture policy clearly stating that the employee will forfeit all accrued vacation time upon separation from the company.  Effective January 1, 2023, Maine employers with 11 or more employees will face a drastically different reality because they will no longer be able to enforce any vacation forfeiture policy.  This amendment requires employers to pay the terminated employee for all accrued vacation time upon the cessation of employment. Notably, it is unclear how this amendment will impact employers' ability to enforce a use-it-or-lose-it policy for their actively employed workforce. AlphaStaff will continue to monitor the published resources and provide updates as the effective date of this legislation draws closer. For more information, please visit this link.


Maryland Becomes the 10th State to Provide Paid Family Leave

On April 9, 2022, Maryland’s legislature overrode Governor Hogan’s veto of the proposed paid family leave law thereby cementing its passage into law. Under the new law, private employers with at least one individual employee in Maryland must provide paid sick leave benefits to eligible employees.  Employees become eligible once they work at least 680 hours for the 12 months immediately preceding the leave. Annually, each employee may take up to 12 weeks of leave, receive a maximum of $1,000 of wages per week, and are entitled to job protection while utilizing the paid leave benefits. In addition, the program funding will begin on October 1, 2023, by subjecting employers (with 15 or more employees) and employees to a payroll tax at a currently unknown rate. These paid leave benefits will only become available effective January 1, 2025. Currently, covered employers have ample time to review their current leave policy and determine how the new legislation will require revisions to the policy. For more information, please visit this link.


Massachusetts High Court: Employers Are on the Hook for Triple Final Pay Even When Payment is Made Before Claim is Filed

Massachusetts Supreme Court has reversed nearly 20 years of settled law with their recent ruling in Reuter v. City of Metheun. In Massachusetts, if an employer terminates an employee, they must be prepared to pay the employee their final wages and the balance of unused accrued vacation time on the same day. Employers that fail to timely issue the wage payment are automatically subject to triple damages, attorneys’ fees, and interest. This liability is imposed on employers even for technical or unintentional violations. However, before the recent ruling, an employer could avoid triple damages by paying the unpaid wages due before the employee files a claim against the employer. Consequently, Courts limited an employee’s recoverable damages at trial to only the interest incurred on the late wages.

After this ruling, an employer’s failure to timely distribute all wages owed to an employee on the termination date means the employer will immediately become liable for triple damages, attorneys’ fees, and any accrued interest. Effectively, payment on any day after the employee’s last day will subject the employer to potentially significant financial penalties. Currently, it is unclear if this ruling will apply retroactively, but the Supreme Court’s history suggests that the probability is high that it will be retroactive. Therefore, employers with Massachusetts employees need to review their current payroll processes regarding wage payments at termination to ensure compliance with established law. For more information, please visit this link.


What Mississippi Employers Need to Know About the State’s New Equal Pay Law

On July 1, 2022, Mississippi’s Equal Pay Law will become effective requiring employers to pay men and women the same salary for substantially equal work requiring the same skill, education, effort, and responsibility. The only exception to this standard is when an employer implements a compensation system based on seniority, merit, or any other factor other than sex. Mississippi’s law broadly aligns with the federal Equal Pay Act 1963; however, there are some key distinctions. For example, an employee only includes a person employed to work 40 or more hours per week, and an employer only consists of an entity with five or more employees. Therefore, the state law creates a more significant restriction than the federal law by limiting the employers and employees that fall under the jurisdiction of this law. Furthermore, this law enumerates what qualifies as “any other factor than sex,” whereas the federal law allows the court discretion to interpret the phrase’s meaning based on the case. Employers in Mississippi should take the opportunity to review their current compensation methodology and reconcile any significant pay disparities that the employer cannot justify. For more information, please visit this link.


New York City Publishes Fact Sheet on Salary Transparency in Job Advertisements

AlphaStaff's February 2022 Compliance Update highlighted the newest salary transparency laws impacting employers in New York City.  In summary, beginning in May, all employers with four or more employees and a least one employee located in New York City must include the expected minimum and maximum salary for the position in each job posting or advertisement.  The New York City Commission on Human Rights recently published a fact sheet clarifying several questions about the law.  For example, employers could face multiple penalties for noncompliance, including compensatory and punitive damages, attorney's fees, costs related to a private right of action, civil penalties of up to $250,000, and affirmative relief.  On April 28, 2022, the Commission granted a last-minute reprieve to New York City employers by passing an amendment changing certain provisions of the law and postponing the effective date to November 1, 2022.    The amendment also allows an employer to avoid monetary civil penalties for a first offense if the violation is corrected within 30 days. Employers must review their current job posting templates and update their hiring practices policies to ensure compliance. Please visit this link or visit the NYC Commission’s resource page for more information.


Tennessee Amends Lawful Employment Act

Tennessee has amended its Lawful Employment Act, broadening the number of employers that must utilize the federal E-Verify system when confirming an employee’s work authorization. Before the amendment, employers with 50 or more were required to use the federal system when completing the verification process. Effective January 1, 2023, employers with 35 or more employees must enroll and use the E-Verify program when verifying the legal status of employees hired on or after the effective date of the amendment. Tennessee’s Office of Employment Verification is offering supportive services to employers that must enroll in E-Verify as a result the new law. The penalties for failure to enroll in E-Verify may include a $500 fine in addition to $500/day fine for failing to provide evidence of compliance with the law within 45 days of a final order of violation. An employer may also be subject to a $500 company penalty as well as a $500 fine for each employee/non-employee that the company failed to verify for an initial violation and penalty amount increases with each additional violation. For more information, please visit this link.


Utah Enacts Comprehensive Privacy Law

Utah has become the newest state to enact a comprehensive consumer privacy law. On December 31, 2023, the Utah Consumer Privacy Act (UCPA) will effectively grant consumers the right to control their personal information and more transparency into how businesses utilize that data. The UCPA applies to businesses that: (1) conduct business in Utah or produce a product or service targeted to Utah residents; (2) have annual gross revenue of more than $25 million; and (3) either control or process the personal data of at least 100,000 residents, or which derive over 50% of their gross revenue from the sale of personal data and control or process personal data of at least 25,000. Fortunately, Utah aligned with the privacy laws passed in Colorado and Virginia by carving out an exception for information collected from employees by employers. Therefore, the rights granted to consumers under this law do not apply to information collected in the employment context. However, it is essential for businesses that operate in Utah to determine if they are required to comply with this law. For more information, please visit this link.


Washington Passes New Law Prohibiting Nondisclosure Agreements

Recently, Washington passed legislation further limiting the circumstances an employer may use nondisclosure agreements (NDAs). Previously, Washington employers could not enforce NDAs relating to sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. Effective June 9, 2022, the Silenced No More Act (the “Act”) will drastically increase the restrictions on NDAs by prohibiting employers from enforcing any nondisclosure agreement relating to all employee complaints, including the terms of a settlement. However, employers may still utilize NDAs in limited circumstances, including protecting trade secrets and preventing an employee from disclosing the settlement amounts. Unlike the prohibition of NDAs in D.C., this law is retroactive, which will void all NDAs that existed before the effective date. Noncompliance with this statute could leave an employer liable for actual damages or $10,000 for every violation. Employers must understand that a violation can arise by requesting an employee sign an agreement that includes a prohibited nondisclosure provision. Therefore, employers need to audit their current NDA agreements and edit them to ensure it complies with the new requirement. For more information, please visit this link.


West Virginia Enacts Changes to Payroll Card Method of Wage Payments

Effective June 22, 2022, employers in West Virginia can unilaterally require an employee to receive their payment of wages via a payroll debit card. Virginia has always allowed payroll cards as an acceptable form of wage payment, but the employer and the employee were required to agree to the use of the payment card. Under this new law, an employer may require an employee to receive their wages via a payroll card by disclosing the related fees and allowing employees to make at least one withdrawal at no cost during every pay period. For more information, please visit this link.