Welcome to the latest edition of AlphaStaff's Monthly Compliance Updates!

We are pleased to provide you with national and state legal updates and highlight resources provided by some of AlphaStaff’s trusted legal partners to guide and help keep you in compliance.


National Updates


OSHA Penalties Automatically Increase

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced significant increases in penalties for workplace safety violations, effective beginning January 16, 2024. These changes, mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), affect citations during workplace safety and health inspections, including ongoing ones. Below is a summary of the essential updates.

    • Serious Violations: Penalties now range from a minimum of $1,190 to a maximum of $16,131 per violation.
    • Other-Than-Serious Violations: These can incur up to a $16,131 penalty, with no minimum penalty set.
    • Willful or Repeated Violations: These see a steep increase, with penalties starting at $11,524 and soaring up to $161,323 per violation. Notably, for repeated other-than-serious violations with no initial penalty, there are now set fines for repeated offenses, escalating from $460 for the first repetition to $2,304 for the third.
    • Violation of Posting Requirements: No minimum penalty is set for these violations.

Employers should review and enhance their workplace safety protocols to comply with these updated regulations. Immediate actions include reassessing current safety measures, ensuring all posting requirements are met, and preparing for potential inspections by OSHA. These adjustments are not just about avoiding fines but also about affirming your commitment to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.

AlphaStaff may be able to assist with your loss and safety concerns; please contact your HR Account Manager for further information.

Click here to learn more from our partners at Fisher Phillips.



State Updates


D.C. Employers Must Comply with Paid Leave Notice Requirement

The D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) has mandated an updated Paid Family Leave notice, which employers must conspicuously display and distribute to their employees by February 1, 2024. This refreshed notice, effective since October 2023, mirrors its predecessor with a notable exception: the increase in the maximum weekly benefit from $1,049 (from October 2022 to October 2023) to $1,118.

This adjustment aligns with the directives of the Universal Paid Leave Act, which requires the annual recalibration of the maximum weekly benefit. This recalibration is based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers in the Washington-Baltimore metropolitan area, ensuring the benefit keeps pace with the cost of living, conditional on the D.C. Chief Financial Officer's confirmation of adequate funds in the Universal Paid Leave Fund.

For employers, the immediate action item is to ensure the updated notice is posted in a place where employment-related information is typically displayed and provided to all employees. This update not only signifies a financial boost for beneficiaries of the Paid Family Leave but also underscores the necessity for employer diligence in adhering to evolving employment regulations.

If you are currently subscribed to our poster services through Poster Guard, the noted updates will be automatically covered, and new posters will be delivered to you. If you do not receive posters through Poster Guard, please contact your HR Account Manager for more information.

Please follow this link to learn more from our partners, Jackson Lewis.


D.C.'s New Pay Transparency Law

The District of Columbia is set to introduce new pay transparency requirements this summer, affecting all private employers with at least one employee in D.C. The Wage Transparency Omnibus Amendment Act of 2023, signed into law by Mayor Muriel Bowser and anticipated to be effective on June 30, 2024, mandates significant compliance changes. Employers are now barred from inquiring into applicants' wage histories or using such information in the hiring process. Additionally, the act broadens the scope of prohibited retaliation against employees discussing compensation, encompassing all forms of monetary and non-monetary benefits.

A notable requirement is for employers to disclose the minimum and maximum salary or hourly pay in job listings and position descriptions, alongside the existence of healthcare benefits, before the first interview. Guidance suggests that a simple acknowledgment of available healthcare benefits suffices, especially for small businesses navigating the challenge of detailed disclosures without full knowledge of staffing capabilities.

Employers must also conspicuously post notices in the workplace detailing employees' rights under this act. While individuals cannot directly sue for violations, the D.C. Attorney General is empowered to investigate, issue subpoenas, and seek various forms of relief, including restitution and statutory penalties.

We will continue to monitor the additional developments on this law. Employers may want to consider conducting a pay equity audit with legal assistance to ensure compliance and maintain attorney-client privilege, which could protect certain information from discovery in litigation.

If you are currently subscribed to our poster services through Poster Guard, the noted updates will be automatically covered, and new posters will be delivered to you. If you do not receive posters through Poster Guard, please contact your HR Account Manager for more information.

Please follow this link to learn more from our partner, Fisher Phillips.


Iowa Employers Must Ensure Strict Adherence to State's Drug Testing Law

A recent Iowa Court of Appeals decision underscores the critical importance of strict adherence to Iowa's intricate drug testing laws for employers. In the case of Scott Hampe v. Charles Gabus Motors Inc., Hampe, an employee of fourteen years, was terminated for refusing a random drug test, which he contested due to procedural discrepancies in the testing policy. Hempe’s case was dismissed initially, but the appeals court held the case should be allowed to proceed in order to resolve several key compliance considerations under Iowa Code Section 730.5, notably the constitutionality of the random testing pool, supervisor training requirements, and the uniformity of disciplinary policies.

Employers in Iowa should view this decision as a cautionary tale, prompting a thorough review of their drug and alcohol testing policies to guarantee full compliance with state law. Action items may include updating testing procedures, ensuring supervisors receive annual training, and standardizing disciplinary actions for test refusals or failures. This case serves as a reminder of the complexities involved in legal compliance and the potential consequences of oversight

To read more on this topic, click here.


New York Enacts Sweeping Changes to Independent Contractor Agreements

As the gig economy flourishes, the State of New York has introduced the Freelance Isn't Free Act (A.6040/S.5026), set to take effect on May 20, 2024. Building on New York City's existing protections for freelancers, this statewide legislation broadens the definition and safeguards for freelance workers—defined as any individual or single-person organization engaged as an independent contractor for services worth $800 or more. This threshold can be met through a single contract or cumulatively over 120 days.

The Act mandates written contracts for services rendered by freelancers, detailing work scope, compensation, payment dates, and service delivery deadlines. It emphasizes timely and full compensation, prohibiting payment delays beyond contract terms or, in their absence, 30 days post-service completion. Importantly, the Act bars any attempt to waive a freelancer's rights through contract terms, ensuring these protections cannot be circumvented.

Employers must retain contracts for six years, facing presumptions against them in disputes if they fail to comply. The legislation also encompasses anti-discrimination and retaliation provisions, safeguarding freelancers from adverse actions for exercising their rights under the Act.

Non-compliance risks are significant, including double damages for payment delays, statutory damages for contract and retaliation violations, and potential civil and criminal penalties, enforceable through civil litigation or administrative action by the New York State Department of Labor. Notably, the Act applies to nearly all individual and corporate employers but excludes government entities and professionals like attorneys and licensed medical practitioners.

For employers, action items include reviewing and updating contracting processes, ensuring all freelance engagements are documented with compliant contracts, and establishing protocols for timely payment and recordkeeping. This proactive approach will mitigate risks and align with the evolving landscape of freelance employment in New York State.

Click here to read more from our legal partner, Littler.