In connection with Mental Health Awareness Month, the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) has sought to assist employers in better understanding how to comply with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as it relates to mental health conditions. Accordingly, on May 25, 2022, the USDOL issued new guidance (Guidance) and frequently asked questions (FAQs) on providing FMLA leave to employees to address their own mental health conditions or to care for a covered family member with a mental health condition.
On March 15, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued a new directive addressing pay equity audits. The new Directive 2022-01 sets forth what OFCCP views as its apparent authority to obtain access to and review federal contractors’ pay equity audits that are conducted in connection with contractors’ compliance mandates.
On March 10, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (which enforces the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and other federal wage and hour laws) announced that one of its top enforcement priorities is to protect workers from retaliation for exercising their rights. The USDOL launched an anti-retaliation page on its web site and published a Field Assistance Bulletin on the subject of retaliation.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), three federal agencies that enforce major federal labor and employment laws, are joining forces to combat employer retaliation. Employers must be aware that these federal agencies are moving forward with concrete steps to jointly coordinate efforts to take action and litigate against workplace violations and are incentivizing workers to come forward with their concerns.
Executive Order 14042 (the Order) generally requires federal agencies and executive departments to ensure that covered contracts and contract-like instruments include a clause that requires covered contractors (and subcontractors) to comply with COVID-19 safety protocol guidance published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, including as it may be updated in the future.
On April 14. 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued much needed guidance concerning best practices for plan sponsors, fiduciaries, record-keepers, participants and beneficiaries pertaining to cybersecurity for retirements plans. The DOL’s guidance focuses on three specific topics: hiring service providers; managing cybersecurity risks; and online security tips for participants to avoid risk of fraud and loss. Although the guidance was couched as “best practices,” it is reasonable to interpret it as creating minimum cybersecurity standards and practices for retirement plans. The guidance specifies the duty of plan fiduciaries to protect plan data against cybersecurity breaches and attacks, and potentially signifies a precursor for the DOL to assess liability for damages stemming from plan data breaches in the future. Although the guidance did not address health and welfare plans, those plans may also wish to consider implementing these measures.
On May 6, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) withdrew its final regulations that would have revised the standard for determining whether a worker is an employee covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or an independent contractor who is not subject to the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements. According to the USDOL, the independent contractor rule that was withdrawn “is inconsistent with the FLSA’s text and purpose, and would have a confusing and disruptive effect on workers and businesses alike due to its departure from longstanding judicial precedent.”
Under the American Rescue Plan (ARP), certain private-sector and governmental employers may claim refundable tax credits which provide reimbursement for the cost of providing Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) style paid sick and family leave to employees, including leave for COVID-19 vaccination related reasons. The ARP does not require employers to provide paid leave; however, it provides tax credits for employers that voluntarily opt to do so. The tax credits are available to eligible employers who provide leave from April 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2021.
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) into law. Notably, the law did not create a new mandate of paid sick and family leave. Instead, the ARPA simply extended and expanded the availability of payroll tax credits for covered employers who voluntarily choose to continue offering “FFCRA” style paid sick and paid family leave.
On February 23, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) sent a proposed new regulation on joint employment status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to the White House for regulatory review. This action is indicative that new guidance will follow for determining joint employer status when an employee performs work that benefits more than one employer.
On Jan. 7, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its final rule to revise and update its regulations regarding classification of employees vs. independent contractors. This determination of independent contractor status is critical to wage liability, as employees are generally guaranteed minimum wage and overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act—absent some exemption—while independent contractors are not.
On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) issued proposed regulations regarding the determination of whether an individual is an employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or an independent contractor who is not subject to the FLSA's minimum wage and overtime requirements. The proposed regulations are expected to be published in the Federal Register on September 25, and comments can be submitted for 30 days after publication. If the proposed regulations are adopted, it will likely be easier for businesses to classify employees as independent contractors under the FLSA.