Does misclassification of employees as independent contractors increase during a recession? Some experts seem to think so. Several states and the federal government are reacting to this crisis with increased enforcement and higher penalties against employers who violate these statutes.
Speaking to SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, attorney Frank Connolly said,” When it comes to a lot of start-ups or small businesses that don’t have a lot of assets, a lot of it is naïveté and a lot of it is convenience. I don’t have the money to pay a lot of people a lot of cash. I can avoid it by calling these people independent contractors.” Connolly, with the firm of Jackson Lewis in Washington, D.C. adds, “These employers probably don’t realize that they are violating the law.”
In most cases, if the employer controls when, where or (more…)
Now is the perfect time for busy employers to update their 2008 D.C. labor law posters. The past year was a hectic one in the field of Human Resources, with a number of important changes to labor law. These include a new I-9 form to be used by all employers effective December 26, 2008. Employers who fail to use the new I-9 form, or display the updated posters, face hefty fines and penalties.
The updated list of 2008 DC labor law posters is:
- Public Accommodations
- Unemployment Compensation Notice
- Workers’ Compensation Notice
- Parental Leave Act
- Child Labor Laws
- Minimum Wage Laws
- Leave of Absence
Every employer in the state is required by law to display these posters where applicants and employees can see them.
In addition, each employer in DC must display the following federal labor law posters:
- USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
- Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law
- Federal Minimum Wage
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- OSHA-Job Safety & Health Protection
Under both federal and state law, these posters must be updated each time there is a change in legislation.
A change in the federal minimum wage on July 24, 2007 required that the Federal Minimum Wage posters be updated. On that date, the federal minimum wage increased for the first time in more than a decade. The rate went from $5.15 per hour to $5.85 per hour, an increase of 70 cents.
Labor law poster serve as a handy reminder for supervisors and employees alike.
They provide important information on the minimum wage, worker safety, medical leave and child labor laws.
It seems as if no two states in the U.S. are alike when it comes to overtime laws or the minimum wage for tipped employees. That’s why the states require different state labor law posters, in addition to the federal posters.
In both cases, some have no laws, and follow federal law. Some are more generous. On rare occasions, they are less so.
Federal law requires workers be paid an overtime rate of 1.5 times their normal hourly wage for any hour over 40. Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Delaware, and Idaho have no overtime laws. Federal law is operable.
Overtime does not kick in until after 46 hours in Kansas, or 48 hours in Minnesota.
In Kentucky, workers get overtime after 40 hours and on the 7th consecutive workday regardless of the number of hours put in on that day. Colorado employees receive overtime after a 40-hour week or a 12-hour day.
Nebraska mirrors the 40-hour federal rule, but extends it to all businesses with 4 or more workers. Others mirroring the 40-hour guide are Massachusetts, Michigan, and Illinois.
California workers can get overtime for more than 8 hours in a day, 40 hours in a week, or the 7th day of 7 consecutive days.
The federal minimum wage rate for tipped workers is now $2.13 an hour. Some states follow the federal rate. Among them are Kentucky, Indiana, and Nebraska, which also set the rate at $2.13.
Kansas, on the other hand, is lower than the federal rate. Its minimum wage for tipped workers is only $1.59 an hour.
Other states offer just a little more than the federal rate. For example, Wisconsin is $2.33 an hour, North Carolina is $2.43, Michigan is $2.65 and Massachusetts is $2.63.
Essentially, employers are getting “tip credits,” or the right to offer a lower than normal minimum wage because the workers in these fields receive tips which are supposed to compensate.
As the year draws to a close, every employer should take the opportunity to update his or her labor law posters.
There are a number of changes to the 2008 labor law posters that every employer needs to be aware of.
During the past year, the federal minimum wage was increased for the first time in a decade. Under the long-awaited Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, the federal minimum wage went from $5.15 per hour to $5.85 per hour. The state minimum wage in at least 10 states increased on the same day, as a result.
Another increase of 70 cents is slated on July 24, 2008. This will increase the federal minimum wage from $5.85 to $6.55 per hour. A number of state minimum wages will automatically increase at that time, as well.
The year 2007 saw a number of other changes in labor laws that required employers to update their posters.
Ohio instituted a tough new ban on smoking in the workplace, requiring employers to post no-smoking signs at all entrances.
In other changes, Washington, Oregon, West Virginia, Illinois, Maine, Texas, Utah, Virginia, South Dakota, North Dakota, North Carolina, New Hampshire and others introduced higher state minimum wages in 2007.
Alaska enacted a change to the state Child Labor Laws making it illegal for people under 19 to sell cigarettes. Under state law, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 19 to buy cigarettes. However, until October, it was perfectly legal for teens to work in a gas station or convenience store where they sold cigarettes. The change was motivated in part by a concern that unsupervised teens might be selling cigarettes to friends who were underage.
Each of these changes requires that employers update their 2008 labor law posters, if they haven’t already.
There are a number of additional labor law changes that go into effect with the new year. In Illinois, a tough new law bans smoking in virtually every workplace, including restaurants, bars and casinos.
At least 14 states will increase the minimum wage on January 1, 2008. These include:
Arizona $6.75 $6.90
California $7.50 $8.00
Colorado $6.85 $7.02
Delaware $6.65 $7.15
Florida $6.65 $6.79
Iowa $6.20 $7.25
Massachusetts $7.50 $8.00
Missouri $6.50 $6.65
Montana $6.15 $6.26
New Mexico $5.15 $6.50
Oregon $7.80 $7.95
Washington $7.93 $8.07
In addition, a number of states have minimum wage increases slated for later in the year, which will require employers to update the 2008 labor law posters yet again. For example, the Illinois minimum wage will increase from $7.50 per hour to $7.75 per hour on July 1, 2008.
On July 1, 2008 the West Virginia minimum wage will increase from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour. The Kentucky minimum wage will increase from $5.58 to $6.55 on July 1, 2008. On that same date, the Michigan minimum wage will increase from $7.15 to $7.40 per hour, and the Pennsylvania minimum wage will increase from $6.25 to $7.15 per hour.
A tough new Illinois smoking ban goes into effect on January 1, 2008 as well.
Each of these changes will require employers in the state to display new 2008 labor law posters. Employers who are not sure how their labor law posters have changed can get up-to-date information on all 50 states at www.laborlawcenter.com.
In addition, this handy site features specific listings of 2008 labor law posters for nearly every state.
Several other states, including Texas, Nebraska, Virginia, South Dakota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Maryland, Indiana and Utah will increase the state minimum wage on July 24, 2008 when the new federal rate of $6.55 per hour is introduced. Most of these states have legislation that ties the state minimum wage to the federal rate. Some areas, such as Washington D.C., peg the minimum wage to a set amount above the federal minimum wage. In D.C., the minimum wage is $1.00 per hour more than the state rate, so the minimum wage will increase to $7.55 per hour in July.
Employers who fail to update their 2008 labor law posters can be fined for the violations. By law, every employer must prominently display the posters in an area where they can be seen by all employees. Locations near the time clock or in the break room are popular.
Two recent conferences aimed to improve economic opportunity for workers. The Opportunity Conference in Washington, D.C., promoted opportunities for minority workers in the U.S. The 15th Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor in Port of Spain, in the nation of Trinidad and Tobago, stressed how the U.S. Department of Labor is working to provide opportunities for American workers as well as those in nearby nations.
“Traditionally underserved communities are often unaware of the tremendous resources available within mainstream America to help them achieve their dreams,” said U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao at a recent conference targeting economic development for minority workers.
“A goal of this conference is to bring everyone together to familiarize entrepreneurs, community organizers, and others with a wide variety of resources,” Chao added. She was speaking at the fifth annual Opportunity Conference, hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor to provide opportunities for members of minority communities.
“This administration recognizes the vital, job-creating role that small and medium-sized enterprises play in our growing economy — representing over 99 percent of employers and providing nearly 83 percent of all private payroll jobs,” Secretary Chao continued. “The Opportunity Conference includes workshops on venture capital for entrepreneurs, marketing and media strategies, and one of the department’s most significant regional grant programs, called Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development.”
The free, one-day business conference in Washington, D. C., included information on how African American, Hispanic and Asian Pacific American entrepreneurs, nonprofits and faith-based organizations can win highly competitive grants and contracts worth millions from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Topics covered at the conference included:
How entrepreneurs can locate and gain access to venture capital.
How to apply for government grants.
Partnership opportunities for faith-based and community organizations.
Entrepreneurial economic trends.
How entrepreneurial veterans can apply for loans.
Financial literacy for ethnic communities.
Marketing and media strategies for small enterprises and organizations.
A number of co-sponsors had exhibits at the conference, from the Association of Small
Business Development Centers and the League of United Latin American Citizens, to the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce.
Participating groups included the Chinese Benevolent Association; the Cuban American National Council, Minority Roundtable, the National Council of La Raza, and Top Ladies of Distinction Inc.
Meanwhile, in the Caribbean city of Port of Spain, Deputy Undersecretary of Labor for International Affairs Charlotte Ponticelli discussed how the U.S. Department of Labor is working in strategic partnerships with regional economies throughout the United States to ensure a competitive and adaptable workforce in the 21st century.
The theme for the conference was “Making Decent Work Central to Social and Economic Development.” Undersecretary Ponticelli joined officials of labor ministries from the 33 democratically elected governments in the western hemisphere to discuss strategies for increasing access to economic opportunities for the people of the Americas, with a focus on youth and women.
In her remarks to conference participants, Ponticelli discussed how the Labor Department’s Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development, or WIRED grants are addressing regional job growth in the U.S.
”WIRED creates a pro-growth environment in regional economies by providing seed funding to strategic partnerships that include leaders in workforce development, economic development, education, business and industry, philanthropic organizations and others across political boundaries, with a goal of driving talent development strategies in support of a unified regional economic vision,” Ponticelli said.
Ponticelli noted that all the conference participants were concerned with high unemployment numbers facing youth. In the United States, 21 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds nationwide, or 3.4 million youth, are out of school and do not have a diploma. The Department of Labor is addressing this issue through a federal interagency collaboration to support states and localities with a wide array of programs serving youth, including employment and training assistance. The existence of exploitive child labor, forced labor and human trafficking runs counter to these objectives and must also be addressed, Ponticelli said.
In DC, posters outlining the state and federal labor and employment laws must be posted in all of the district’s workplaces. The employers are responsible for posting these posters in a visible spot within an area where all employees have access such as a break room, mail room or employee work room – any where that the employees tend to gather on a regular basis is acceptable.
The DC posters need to contain both state and federal information. The district laws that are required to be posted are those concerning public accommodations, discrimination, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, parental leave, child labor, minimum wage and leaves of absence. The federal laws that need to be covered are USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law, Federal Minimum Wage, Employee Polygraph Protection Act, Family and Medical Leave Act and OSHA – Job Safety and Health Protection.
DC posters need to be posted both for the benefit of the employers and the employees. Employers can benefit from posting this information because they can use them to know exactly what they need to do to make sure they are upholding the law and their employees’ rights. They can also use the posters as a reference when they haves specific questions about particular laws such as how many hours minors are allowed to work during the school year. For many employees, the DC posters are their main source for finding out their rights and responsibilities as defined by state and federal labor laws. The posters also give important information to employees who feel that they need to file a claim because the posters contain information to direct them to the appropriate state and federal agencies to go to for help.
Since state and federal labor laws can frequently change, it’s important for employers to ensure that they update their DC posters often – sometimes it’s even necessary to do so as often as once a year.