Employers in the District of Columbia have been assessing how to deal with the requirements of the Wage Theft Prevention Act of 2014 (the “2014 Act”) since the 2014 Act was passed last year. Among other things, the 2014 Act requires employers to issue wage notices to employees in their “primary” language. It also requires employers to pay all employees, exempt and non-exempt, at least twice per month, and to keep track of the “precise” time worked by every employee. Our past blog posts on the 2014 Act can be found here and here.
Thankfully, there have been some helpful recent developments regarding the 2014 Act. First, the 2014 Act was originally expected to go into effect in January after passing the Congressional review period. However, the 2014 Act was retransmitted to Congress which reset the review period. The 2014 Act’s current projected law date is now February 26, 2015.
Second, in response to criticism regarding some of the Act’s more burdensome and confusing provisions, on February 3, 2015, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Vincent Orange introduced the Wage Theft Prevention Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2015 (the “Clarification Act”). On the same day they introduced the Wage Theft Prevention Clarification Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2015 (the “Resolution”). The Resolution explains that the Clarification Act is aimed at addressing “several unintended consequences” of the 2014 Act. It states that it was “not the Council’s intent to “require white-collar, salaried employees to be paid at least twice a month or to require an employer to keep records of the precise time worked by all employees.” In addition, the Resolution recognizes that “requiring [pay] notice[s] to be furnished in an employee’s ‘primary’ language will be unnecessarily burdensome and costly.”
The Clarification Act addresses these three “unintended consequences” the following ways. With respect to the pay notices, it would only require pay notices to be issued to employees in a language other than English if: (a) if the employer knows the employee has a primary language other than English, or the employee requests the notice in another language, and (b) the Mayor has prepared a template notice in that language. If passed, this amendment would alleviate the burden the 2014 Act placed on employers of both knowing what their employees’ primary languages are and having to prepare pay notices in numerous different languages.
With respect to the pay records and pay frequency provisions of the 2014 Act, the Clarification Act makes clear that the requirement to keep records of the “precise time worked each day and each workweek by each employee,” applies only to employees who are not exempt from D.C.’s overtime requirements. The Clarification Act also provides that exempt employees only need to be paid once per month.
If enacted, the Clarification Act would rectify three of the more burdensome and problematic elements of the 2014 Act.