Welcome to our Summer 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.
IRS Increase Mileage Rate to 62.5 Cents per Mile for Rest of 2022
Since February 2022, gas prices have consistently increased to reach record highs. As a result, the IRS has announced that the optional standard mileage rate for business travel will increase from 58.5 cents to 62.5 cents per mile. This rate change will be effective July 1 through December 31, 2022. Many employers elect to reimburse employees for the personal use of their vehicles at the rate established by the IRS. Employers implementing this methodology should note the rate change and update their policy for the upcoming increase. For more information, please visit this link.
DHS Rule Increases Automatic Extension of Work Authorization for Certain Eligible Renewal Applicants
Many employees seeking to renew their work authorization have faced significant delays in processing their applications. In many instances, their current work authorization has expired while their application is being processed. As a result, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a Temporary Final Rule that automatically extends the work authorization for certain applicants who timely filed their renewals. The automatic extension extends the applicant’s active work authorization for an additional 540 days from the expiration date. To be eligible for this automatic extension, the applicant must fall into a category qualified for the 180-day automatic extension, and their application must be filed before October 26, 2023. For more information, please visit this link.
Colorado Expands Notice Requirement for Unemployment Benefits Upon Termination
Colorado recently passed legislation expanding the content required in the unemployment notice given to employees that are terminated for any reason. Prior to the new law, employers were required to provide terminated employees a notice that included a general statement about the availability of unemployment insurance benefits, information to file a claim, the necessary information that an employee would need to file a claim, and how to check claim status. The new law lists the information that must be on the notice, including:
- Employer’s name
- Employer’s address
- Employee’s name
- Employee’s address
- Employee’s ID number or the last four digits of the employee’s SSN
- Employee’s first and last dates worked
- Employee’s year-to-date earnings
- Employee’s wages for the last week worked
- and the reason the employee separated from the employer.
For more information, please visit this link.
Colorado Amends Wage Payment Law, Requires Notice of Payroll Deductions Upon Termination
Colorado recently passed an amendment to the state wage payment law regarding payroll deductions for terminated employees. There are several circumstances where Colorado employers may lawfully take deductions from employee wages, including deductions required by law, deductions for the employee's benefit with written agreement, employee theft, or any deduction authorized by the employee as long as the employee retains the right to revoke the authorization. Prior to the amendment, employers were only required to audit and process the appropriate payroll deduction within 10 days of an employee's termination on the final paycheck. Effective August 9, 2022, Colorado employers must now submit a written notice to the employee within 10 days of termination before deducting any money owed to the employer. Under the amended law, proper notice requires the employer to provide the employee with a detail of the money or property the employee failed to return, the fair market replacement value, the date the money or property was given to the employee, and the date the money or property was expected to be returned by the employee. The financial penalty for non-compliance has also increased, including the ability of an employee to collect reasonable attorney's fees. It is important that impacted employers review their current policies to comply with this new notice requirement. For more information, please visit this link.
Connecticut Recreational Marijuana Usage Becomes Legal
Effective July 1, 2022, adults over the age of 21 may legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana or up to five ounces if kept in a locked container at home, glove box, or trunk. Under this new law, an employer may establish a drug use policy that includes the prohibition of the use of marijuana when an employee is off duty. The policy must be written and enforced before an employer can take any adverse actions for an employee's recreational use of marijuana. Employers must be aware of the limitation of the scope of the policies. For example, an applicant cannot be denied a position for the use of marijuana before being onboarded by the employer. Furthermore, employers may need to accommodate the use of marijuana for "palliative" purposes for qualifying medical marijuana patients. It is important for employers to review their current drug policy to ensure they comply with this new law. For more information, please visit this link.
Connecticut Set to Enact Ban on Employer-Sponsored Meetings
Effective July 1, 2022, An Act Protecting Employee Freedom of Speech and Conscience bans mandatory employer-sponsored meetings and prohibits employers from disciplining or discharging employees that exercise their rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution if it does not impact the employee’s job performance or the employer-employee relationship. The scope of the law is limited and only protects employees from attending meetings related to religious or political matters. Furthermore, there are several exceptions to the general prohibitions under the law. For example, employers can communicate any information required by law or necessary for employees to fulfill the job functions. Additionally, the managerial or supervisory staff may still be required to attend meetings that include political or related communications. Failure to comply with this new law includes liability to the employee for lost wages, plus costs and attorney’s fees. For more information, please visit this link.
Connecticut Releases Required Paid Family and Medical Leave Notice
Connecticut employers must distribute notices detailing the benefits available under Connecticut’s Paid Family and Medical Leave law to employees at the time of hiring and every year of employment. A model notice from the CT Department of labor can be found here. For more information, please visit this link.
Delaware Paid Family and Medical Leave Law Signed
On May 10, 2022, Delaware passed the Healthy Delaware Families Act (the “Act”), becoming the newest state to provide paid leave for employees. The Act provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave to qualifying employees for certain parental, family caregiving, and medical reasons. This leave will be funded by contributions from both employers and employees that begin January 1, 2025. Paid leave will become available on January 1, 2026. For more information, please visit this link.
Illinois Amends Law on Day of Rest and Meal Breaks
Illinois' One Day Rest in Seven Act (ODRISA) has passed several amendments that will impact the day of rest and meal break requirements for employees. Effective January 1, 2023, employers will be required to give employees a day of rest for "every consecutive seven-day period" worked. Prior to the amendment, employers were only required to grant the employee a day of rest during a calendar week. The amendment also changes the meal break entitlements based on the number of hours worked. Currently, employees are entitled to a 20-minute meal break for every 7.5 hours worked. Under the new law, an employee is entitled to an additional 20-minute meal break for every additional 4.5 hours worked. Therefore, during a 12-hour work period, an employee may take meal breaks totaling 40 minutes.
Employers will be subject to increased civil penalties for failure to comply with the amended law. An employee can also file a claim and recover damages for employer violations. The amendment also establishes a notice requirement where employers detail the rights available under ODRISA to all employees, including remote workers. In the near future, the Illinois Department of Labor will publish a model notice for employers. AlphaStaff will share the resource as soon as it is released. For more information, please visit this link.
New Mexico Enacts Statewide Paid Sick and Safe Time Law
On July 1, 2022, the Healthy Workplace Act (the “Act”) became effective in New Mexico, requiring private employers to provide paid leave to employees. Under this new law, employees must accrue at least one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked with an annual accrual cap of 64 hours. An employee may use the leave for multiple reasons, including mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, medical diagnosis, care or treatment of the condition, preventative medical care, absences due to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking, meeting at a child’s school or place related to child’s health or disability. The accrued time can also be used if the listed reason is related to a covered family member. The Act includes spouses, domestic partners, children, grandchildren, grandparents, parents, siblings, and “an individual whose close association with the employee or the employee's spouse or domestic partner is the equivalent of a family relationship.” It is important that employers review the requirements under this law because it details numerous obligations such as notice, posting, recordkeeping, paystubs, prohibition against retaliation, and consequences of misclassifying independent contractors. For more information, please visit this link.
Rhode Island Legalizes Recreational Marijuana, Including Some Protections for Employees
The Rhode Island Cannabis Act recently became effective, legalizing the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults aged 21 and over. Under the new law, employers may continue to establish policies restricting employees from using, possessing, or working under the influence of marijuana while at work.
The Act limits an employer's ability to take adverse actions when an employee consumes marijuana while off duty. Specifically, an employer can only restrict off-duty use of marijuana if the use is prohibited under a collective bargaining agreement, the employer's designation as a federal contractor requires such restriction, or the job duties involve hazardous work. Employers in Rhode Island should review and update their current drug use and testing policy to ensure compliance with the new law. For more information, please visit this link.
Tennessee Creates New Shared Work Program
In an effort to help employers avoid layoff, Tennessee has created a shared work program that allows a reduction in work hours for a group of employees that is then reallocated evenly among that group. Employees impacted by the work hour reduction are allowed to collect unemployment compensation for the prorated amount of their lost wages. Employers must submit a shared work plan to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development for approval before implementing this program. The administrator will review the employer's proposal based on various factors measuring the impact of the reduction in hours on the employer's workforce. The rule-making phase for this program began on May 27, 2022, but the program will not be available until December 1, 2023. For more information, please visit this link.