Published February 2009
Below, you will find alerts for laws that have recently changed or are about to change. This list is not comprehensive. It is designed to bring to your attention a sample of legal updates that our team of HR Pros considers particularly important. We recommend that you always consult the Federal and State law libraries to determine the current status of certain laws.
The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act
Effective January 1, 2009, The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) makes it significantly easier for employees to request “reasonable accommodations” for a now-broadened definition of what constitutes a disability. Under ADAAA, any impairment that might substantially limit a major life activity, even if treated and under control, now qualifies as a disability, and the burden is on employers to provide a reasonable accommodation rather than challenging the disability qualification.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Effective January 16, 2009, new regulations cover the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and addresses new military family leave entitlements for employees. The new rules address several areas that have given employers headaches over the years. The Department of Labor says many of the changes were designed to improve communication between employers and employees. For more information, please review the “FMLA – Summary of Changes to the Family Medical Leave Act [1/16/09]” found in the Guides area of the Essentials tab section of the HR Support Center.
Double check your sources for information related to any revised regulation.
The revisions to the FMLA and ADA are so new and enacted so quickly; information and legal interpretations are not readily available yet. Persons seeking advice on the revised standards need to note the date the information was written or published. Most of the information within the DOL’s web pages and on the internet relate to the 1993 FMLA and revisions to the ADA dated prior to 2009. Although some parts of the FMLA, for an example, have not changed with the 2009 revision you need to take caution on what information you rely upon for support to your actions.
Reprieve from E-Verify Mandate
Effective February 20, 2009 (instead of January 15, 2009 as originally targeted), new United States Department of Justice (DOJ) regulations require procurement federal contractors to use the federal E-Verify verification system for employees.
New Form I-9 Requirement
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has delayed by 60 days, until April 3, 2009, the effective date for using the revised Form I-9, originally scheduled to go into effect February 2, 2009. The I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form revised as of 06/05/07 is for use BEFORE April 3, 2009. The I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form revised as of 02/02/09 is only for use ON and AFTER April 3, 2009. Please note: Employers who use the new form prior to the April 3, 2009 effective date are subject to civil monetary penalties. *Every employer is required to complete Form I-9 with respect to newly hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the United States.
Paycheck Fairness Act Passes
President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, reversing a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held a female employee needed to file her pay discrimination complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) within 180 days of her employer’s initial decision to pay her less than her male counterparts. The new Fair Pay Act of 2009 ensures equal pay for all, which guarantees there will not be compensation discrimination on the basis of gender, age or race.
Effective January 1, 2009, the Arizona minimum wage increases to $7.25.
Effective January 1, 2009, the wage payment obligations of temporary staffing firms that do business in California requires employers to pay temporary employees on assignment at least once a week, regardless of when their temporary assignment ends. Employers also must pay the wages for work performed during any calendar week no later than on the regular company payday during the following calendar week. The new law also makes clear that the end of an assignment for a temporary worker does not qualify as a termination or “discharge,” and therefore employers are not required to pay final wages immediately.
Effective January 1, 2009, the CA Labor Code is modified to exempt from overtime pay eligibility only those computer software professionals working full-time who earn at least $75,000 per year or $6,250 per month.
Effective January 1, 2009, California’s vehicle code bans drivers in California from reading, writing, or sending a text message while driving in a motor vehicle. While the new law does not impose specific requirements on California employers, employers should consider having policies on text-messaging while employees are driving company or personal vehicles on company business, particularly where employees are reimbursed for business-related charges.
Effective January 1, 2009, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has adopted Minimum Wage Order Number 25 establishing a new state minimum wage rate of $7.28, which is adjusted for inflation in accordance with Article XVIII, Section 15, of the Colorado Constitution. The state’s minimum wage posters (English and Spanish versions) have been updated.
Effective January 1, 2009, the Connecticut minimum wage increases to $8.00.
Effective January 1, 2009, Connecticut law allows parents to cover certain unmarried dependents up to age 26, under a parent’s individual or group health insurance plan.
Effective January 1, 2009, Florida’s minimum wage increases to $7.21 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees is $4.19 per hour. The state’s minimum wage posters have been updated.
Effective January 1, 2009, the Missouri Department of Labor and Industries increases the state minimum hourly wage from $6.65 to $7.05 per hour.
Effective January 1, 2009, the Montana minimum wage increases to $6.90 per hour.
The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) has provided employers with additional information regarding the new Paid Family Leave Law. (Note: Both English and Spanish language version posters are now available.)
Effective February 1, 2009, employers in the state of New York will be required to post a copy of the New York Correction Law relating to employment of persons with prior criminal convictions.
Effective January 1, 2009, Ohio’s minimum wage increases to $7.30 per hour for non-tipped employees and to $3.65 per hour for tipped employees (plus tips). (Note: The increased minimum wage applies to employers who gross more than $267,000 per year.)
Effective January 1, 2009, Oregon’s minimum wage increases to $8.40 an hour.
On January 12, 2009, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) issued a new rule of particular interest to employers and employees for whom a 30-minute meal period is either occasionally or regularly not possible. The new rule clarifies the requirements for meal periods in that situation and the obligations for employers who do not provide a 30-minute meal period.
Effective January 1, 2009, an updated Oregon Smokefree Workplace Law expands the number of indoor workplaces that are required to be smoke-free. The law also prohibits smoking within 10 feet of entrances, exits, windows that open and ventilation intakes of workplaces or public places.
Effective January 1, 2009, Vermont’s minimum wage increases to $8.06 an hour.
Effective January 1, 2009, Washington’s minimum wage increases to $8.55 an hour.