One of the most difficult things for human resource and absence management professionals to do is keep up with changing State and local laws. Below is a brief summary of some new laws of interest:
California’s Employment Development Department has released the disability insurance paid family leave weekly benefit amounts for 2017. For 2017, the maximum weekly benefit amount for disability and paid family leave is $1,173. The taxable wage ceiling for 2017 is $110,902.
The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act does not authorize the award of punitive damages. The litigation involved a disability discrimination claim. A jury awarded $100,000 for disability discrimination, a total of $400,000 for other violations and additional punitive damages. The trial court judge set aside the punitive damages as not being available and both the appellate court and the State Supreme Court agreed.
A Hennepin County Court has restricted the new paid sick leave law to employers with locations in the City limits. This means that employers not located in Minneapolis, but who have employees working there will not be subject to the paid sick time ordinance. The court will consider this issue further. This temporary injunction is likely to be appealed. The other provisions of the ordinance will go into effect on July 1, 2017. The ordinance has a delayed enforcement provision—during the first year, employers will not be cited or punished for failing to follow the ordinance, but they will be issued warnings and notices to correct violations. Employers with locations in Minneapolis should be updating handbooks, policies and procedures. Employers located outside of Minneapolis, but with employees who travel there on business may want to take a wait-and-see attitude before changing their policies.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided, on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, that the Michigan Health Insurance Claims Assessment Act is not preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Michigan’s Act imposes a 1 percent tax on all claims paid by insurance companies or third-party administrators for health services rendered in Michigan to residents of Michigan. The 6th Circuit reviewed its decision in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Gobeille case and found nothing in that case to warrant overturning its earlier decision. The Self-Insurance Institute of America attempted to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court, but the court declined to hear the appeal.
Morristown, New Jersey
Morristown has released a notice employers can use to notify employees of its paid sick time ordinance. The Town has also released answers to frequently asked questions about the paid sick leave ordinance. One of the answers clarifies that the ordinance applies to employers that do not maintain an establishment within Morristown’s geographic borders.
The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that employers only need to offer health insurance to take advantage of the lower tier of the minimum wage, not that employees be enrolled for health insurance. Nevada’s Minimum Wage Amendment (MWA) established a two-tiered minimum wage in 2006 to encourage employers to make health benefits available to employees in Nevada. The MWA permits an employer to pay the lower-tier minimum wage to an employee if the employer “provides” qualifying health benefits.
Plainfield, New Jersey
Employers with 10 or more employees in Plainfield must provide those employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick time each year. Employers with fewer than 10 employees must provide up to 24 hours of paid sick time per year. The law covers most employees who work 80 hours in a calendar year.