Changes coming for minimum wage, unemployment insurance
By Anthony P. Raimondo
2014 brings a number of changes that dairy producers should be aware of as they plan their labor costs and management plan. This article focuses on federal laws that are changing, but dairy farmers should also be aware of what is coming in their home states.
Minimum Wage. California raised its minimum wage dramatically this year, and it appears that Congress may follow with a federal minimum wage increase of its own. The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, calling for a federal minimum wage increase to $8.20 after three months, $9.15 after one year, and $10.10 after two years. The bill will also link minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index, which will trigger future, automatic increases in minimum wage. Monitor this bill closely.
EEO Changes. Changes to the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act (VEVRAA) will take effect in March 2014, including changes to how protected veterans are defined under the law. The federal government has announced that a new poster will be released in 2013.
Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Employers have been required to provide all employees with notices regarding rights concerning the insurance marketplaces on October 1, 2013, or within 14 days of an employee’s start date for employees hired after October 1. All employers subject to the FLSA are required to provide the notice.
Employers must provide the notice to each employee, regardless of plan enrollment status (if applicable), or of part-time or full-time status, but not to dependents. The notice must be provided in writing, but may be provided electronically through procedures established by the US DOL. In September, the DOL announced that it would not fine employers who failed to comply with the October deadline, but employers should comply in order to avoid the risk of fines in the future.
Unemployment Insurance. Congress went into recess without extending unemployment benefits, meaning that long term benefits expire as of December 28, 2013. It is possible that Congress could enact a retroactive extension after the first of the year.
In 2011, Congress required states that receive federal funds to amend their unemployment insurance programs to require employers to respond to state EDD inquiries and to risk fines for failing to do so. Although there has not been aggressive enforcement in this area, employers should be aware that they may risk fines if they fail to respond to state inquiries on UI claims. In most states, employers can no longer receive credit for overpayments if they fail to provide information to the state in a timely manner.
Some states, including New York, have begun taking severance pay into account when processing UI claims, which can result in delays to employees who receive severance pay when they leave the job. Employers who utilize severance packages should be aware of the law in their particular state.
The end of the year presents an excellent opportunity to check posters to make sure they are current, and to review practices to ensure compliance.
The goal of this article is to provide employers with current labor and employment information. The contents should not be interpreted or construed as legal advice or opinion. For individual responses to questions or concerns regarding any given situation, the reader should consult with Anthony Raimondo at McCormick Barstow LLP in Fresno at (559) 433-1300.