As the new year begins, it is always interesting to see what lawmakers have in store for the coming year. One of the more interesting things to review are pieces of proposed legislation currently in play in Washington D.C. that could have a significant impact on employers if passed. Three of the more interesting ones (in my opinion) are listed below.
The FAMILY Act:
The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (The FAMILY Act) was proposed by Democrat Representatives DeLauro (D-Conn) and Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). It was introduced December 2013.
The FAMILY Act would apply to all employers regardless of size. It provides up to twelve (12) weeks of partial income when an employee takes time off for a serious health condition (including pregnancy and childbirth), a serious health condition of a family member, birth or adoption of a child, and for particular military caregiving and leave.
Employees eligible for benefits would receive two-thirds of their monthly wages, up to a certain capped maximum. The benefit would be a government provided benefit funded through small employee and employer payroll contributions (two tenths of one percent each, or about $1.50 per week for a full-time employee.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA) was reintroduced in the Senate again this year. ENDA has been proposed many times, but has never been passed. In November, the bill survived the Senate and was sent over to the House for consideration.
ENDA amends Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. ENDA would prohibit employers from taking adverse employment action (e.g., demotion, termination, deny promotion, etc.) on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Only about seventeen (17) states prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity at the current time (Indiana does not).
If ENDA successfully passes the House, employers who haven’t already adopted non-discrimination policies on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity will need to update handbooks and policies. In addition, it an employer has a transgender employee, the employer may need to address policies relating to treatment of that employee and the employee undergoes treatment, medical procedures, and other requirements.
The Payroll Fraud Prevention Act of 2013 (PFPA) was introduced into the by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in November of this year. Similar pieces of legislation have been introduced in the past but have not been successful.
The primary provisions of the PFPA expand provisions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to cover a new category of workers dubbed “non-employees” and prohibits misclassification of the same. It requires employers to provide notice to all employees and “non-employees” of (1) their classification, (2) their rights under the new law; and (3) how to contact the U.S. Department of Labor. The law also provides that employers may be subjected to fines from $1,100 to $5,000 for misclassification. These fines would be in addition to any back wages, liquidated damages, civil money penalties, and attorneys fees required under the FLSA.
None of these bills have been enacted into law, and so employers need not make any changes as of yet. But this is a good reminder for employers to review their policies and procedures to ensure current compliance with the every-changing landscape of employment laws, and to keep up to date as things change down the road.