Employers are well advised to ensure that they start the New Year on the correct foot as many laws have effective dates in a few short days and weeks. Among the most notable changes are the following:
New Jersey’s minimum wage will be $8.44/hr. effective January 1, 2017. Similarly, in New York City, the minimum wage will be $11.00/hr. for workers employed by “large employers” with 11 or more employees. For those “small employers” with less than 11 employees, the minimum wage is $10.50/hr. effective January 1, 2017. Other minimum wage rates will apply depending on the location within the State.
“White Collar Exemption” Salary Threshold Level – New York
Although the federal overtime Final Rule, which was set to be enacted on December 1, 2016, has been delayed for the time being, New York employers must pay attention to State law in this area. Effective December 31, 2016, New York City “large employers” invoking a “white collar exemption” must meet the salary threshold of $825/wk. Accordingly, assuming an employee meets the duties test, in order for an employer to treat the worker as exempt from overtime, the worker must earn at least $825/week on a salary or fee basis. For “small employers” the salary threshold is $787.50/week, also effective December 31, 2016. These levels are set to increase over the next few years and, like the minimum wage, the amounts will differ in other parts of the State.
Bathroom Law – New York
Effective January 1, 2017, New York City employers, including bars and restaurants, must remove any signs designating single-occupancy bathrooms as being for a certain gender. The law does not require physical alteration of a single-occupant bathroom, but instead only requires the posting and maintenance of appropriate gender-neutral signs.
OSHA’s Injury Reporting Requirements
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has new injury reporting requirements that go into effect January 1, 2017 and will phase in over 2 years. One of the primary changes is that employers will be required to electronically submit the summary of injuries and illnesses to OSHA. OSHA’s new rule is based on the premise that employers will be more likely to focus on safety if their injury information is publicly available. The new OSHA rule also prohibits retaliation against employees who report work-related injuries, and requires employers to inform employees of their right to be from retaliation.
Revised I-9 Form
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCSA) has issued a new Form I-9, which employers must begin using on January 22, 2017. The new form can be found here and will be valid until August 31, 2019. Employers can be fined for using an expired version of the I-9 form.
Employers may complete the new form in either a “smart” PDF version (if completed on a computer using Adobe reader) or by hand using paper. Either way the employee or employer’s representative must sign the completed form.
There are a few significant changes to the new Form I-9. First, the form requests “other last names used”, rather than “other names used.” In addition, employees who identify as “alien authorized to work” must list only one number from among the employee’s alien number, I-9 for admission number and foreign passport number. Previously employees had to list multiple numbers.
Of course, given the incoming administration’s public comments on immigration changes, all employers are well advised to keep abreast of these changes and ensure compliance with all immigration obligations.