New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law Requires Notice and Posting

Effective October 29, 2018, New Jersey’s new Earned Sick Leave Law goes into effect. As a very general matter, the new law requires all New Jersey employers to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per “benefit year,” and comes with posting and notice requirements. Should you need assistance with compliance and preparation of a policy, we would be happy to help.

Updated FCRA Forms for Background Checks

If you are having a third party agency perform background checks on potential new hires, that process generally is subject to the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), even if the check does not involve the applicant’s credit. The process involves a number of required forms, one of which is “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection has released a new version of that form. If you are having a third party agency perform backgrounds checks and need a copy of the new form, we would be happy to forward it to you.

Form 5500 and Other Tax Relief for Hurricane Michael Victims

Businesses whose principal place of business is located in a covered disaster area (see listing below) have until February 28, 2019 to file Forms 5500 that otherwise would have been due after October 7, 2018 and before February 28, 2019. Many calendar-year pension and health plan filings that use an automatic extension (filed on Form 5558) would have to file by October 15, 2018 without this relief. Further, this relief also may apply when records needed to complete the filings are located in the disaster-relief area.
As of October 14, 2018, the covered area includes Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties.
IRS’s announcement also describes relief for affected individuals, businesses, and non-profits with respect to filing returns, estimated income tax payments, and quarterly payroll and excise tax returns (these require payment by October 22, 2018), and a waiver of fees for Forms 4506 and 4506-T.
IRS’s news release can be found here.

NYC Temporary Schedule Change Law

NYC Temporary Schedule Change Law

This new law is now in effect in New York City. In short, the law permits an eligible employee to change/modify his or her schedule, hours, or location of work for certain “personal events.” Those events include, among other things, the need to care for a minor or a family member with a disability; certain legal proceedings; and any reason for leave under the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law. Generally, an eligible employee is one who has been employed for at least 120 days and works 80 or more hours per year in New York City. An eligible employee is entitled to make a schedule change on two separate days during the year, or on one occasion for two days. If the employer cannot otherwise approve the employee’s requested schedule change, the employee must either be provided with leave without pay or the option to use paid time off pursuant to whatever may be the employer’s policy. However, the employee cannot be required to use paid leave accrued under the NYC Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law for a temporary schedule change request.

A request for a temporary schedule change may be made orally or in writing, informing the employer of the date of the change and confirming that the change is due to personal event, and proposing the type of change desired. The employer cannot require an employee to submit documents substantiating the request or serving as proof of the “personal event.” If the request is made orally, a written request must be provided no later than two (2) business days after the employee’s return to work, with the employer required to respond in writing within fourteen (14) days, despite the fact that the request already was granted or denied.

Employers cannot retaliate against employees for exercising their rights under the law and cannot prohibit an employee from requesting a temporary schedule change on any particular day, even despite a lack of notice. Records relating to compliance with the law, including documents memorializing temporary schedule change requests and responses, must be kept for at least three (3) years.

The law does come with a notice requirement – the required poster must be posted in an 11″x17″ copy, in English as well as in any language that is the primary language of at least 5% of the employees at the workplace, if the translation is available on the Office of Labor Policy & Standards website. Currently only the English poster is available, and is found here. However, employers are not required to address the law in their employee handbooks.

If it seems as if the new law is extraordinarily employee friendly, does not consider the burden on the employer, and makes little sense in terms of its procedure, the reader’s impression is correct. Nevertheless, there is a FAQ intended to assist in compliance, here. We of course are available to address any questions.

OSHA Announces New Electronic Reporting and Employer Policy Requirements

On May 12, 2016, the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released final regulations providing for electronic reporting of worksite injuries and illnesses by certain employers beginning in 2017.  The electronic reporting is required of workplaces that had 250 or more employees at any point during the prior calendar year, as well as those that had between 20 and 249 employees and conduct business in certain “high-hazard” industries designated in the regulations.

The electronic reporting will be phased in.  The electronic report for calendar year 2016 must be filed by July 1, 2017, and concerns certain information from OSHA Form 300A.  The electronic report for calendar year 2017 must be filed by July 1, 2018, and concerns certain information from OSHA Forms 300A, 300, and 301.  For each subsequent calendar year, the broader filing is due March 2 of the following year.  The referenced OSHA forms can be found here.  The regulations specify which information from the forms is and is not required to be filed electronically.  It is OSHA’s intention to create a website portal to permit the electronic filing.

In the meantime, the regulations contain more immediate requirements, which initially were effective as of August 10, 2016, but have been postponed until November 1, 2016.  Specifically, each employer subject to OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements (generally, those that had more than 10 employees at any point in the prior calendar year) must have a procedure for employees to utilize to report work-related injuries and illnesses, and the procedure must include certain language, specified in the regulations, regarding the prohibition on retaliation for making such reports.  The final regulations prohibit such retaliation, and the preamble to the regulations clarifies that actions or policies of an employer that, whether or not by design, may have the effect of chilling the reporting of worksite injuries and illnesses will be deemed unlawful.  As one example of a policy that is popular with many employers but now will be problematic, OSHA specifically indicates that, as a general matter, a blanket policy of drug testing an employee following a workplace injury or illness is prohibited.

Defend Trade Secrets Act Provides New Remedies – With a Few Catches

On May 11, 2016, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (the “DTSA”) was signed by President Obama and became effective immediately.  The new Federal law provides for a civil action in the United States District Courts, with remedies that include compensatory damages and, in certain “extraordinary circumstances,” seizure of misappropriated trade secrets.  Where a trade secret is “willfully and maliciously misappropriated,” the DTSA permits exemplary damages in an amount up to twice the compensatory damages awarded, as well as reimbursement of attorneys’ fees.  The DTSA does not preempt additional claims or rights available under State law.

There are limitations worth noting.  First, the DTSA does not permit an injunction preventing an individual from entering into an employment relationship.  Any injunction that would place conditions on employment must be based on “evidence of threatened misappropriation and not merely on the information the person knows.”  Further, crucially, an injunction under the DTSA may not “conflict with applicable State law prohibiting restraints on the practice of a lawful profession, trade, or business.”

Moreover, an employer cannot recover exemplary damages or attorneys’ fees if, in an agreement entered into with an employee that governs the use of a trade secret or confidential information, the employer fails to include notice of certain whistleblower provisions contained in the DTSA.  An employer may comply with the notice requirement by a cross-reference to a policy document provided to the employee that sets forth the employer’s reporting policy for a suspected violation of law.  The notice requirement applies to agreements entered into on or after the effective date of the DTSA.