May 27, 2016

Preparing for the Coming Year

Labor and Employment Law

What Vermont Employers need to know about State and Federal changes to Employment Law

Vermont employers need to prepare for a number of impactful changes being made to State and federal laws over the coming year. The following is a brief overview of the new laws employers must be aware of, with some links to more specific information. Of course, the attorneys of Downs Rachlin Martin also remain available to provide more individualized assistance to your business as it adapts to coming changes.

New FLSA Overtime Rules – All employers must comply by December 1, 2016

The U.S. Department of Labor recently published significant changes to its overtime rules. The new rules will extend protections to millions of workers currently ineligible for overtime by raising the salary threshold for commonly used “white collar” exemptions. More specifically, the salary level necessary to maintain a “white collar” exemption will more than double, from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $913 per week ($47,476 annually), and will then be subject to automatic updates every three years. While employers review their payrolls to determine if modifications are necessary, it would be wise to also consider using this moment as an opportunity for a broader review of FLSA compliance. Read More

Paid Sick Leave – Most employers must comply by January 1, 2017

Vermont employers with more than five employees will have to start allowing employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 52 hours worked, for a total of at least three paid sick days per year. Small businesses will follow suit on January 1, 2018 and, starting in 2019, all employers will have to provide employees with at least five paid sick days per year. Whereas many employers will come into compliance with the law by making adjustments to their current leave policies, it is important that employers ensure that their policies properly notify employees of their rights and permit the right amount of leave for each reason covered under the law.

Updated OSHA Reporting Rules – Applies to covered employers as of January 1, 2017

Businesses with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illness must electronically submit information from OSHA Form 300A. Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records must electronically submit information from OSHA Forms 300, 300A, and 301. This information will become publicly available online. The new reporting rules also reaffirm OSHA’s anti-retaliation provisions: employers must inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation; and an employer’s reporting procedures must be reasonable and may not deter or discourage employees from reporting. Read More

New EEOC Rules on Wellness Incentives – All employers must comply by January 1, 2017

Employers offering employee wellness incentives must now consider new rules published by the EEOC under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”). Now, these rules must be read along with those updated just three years ago by the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services in order to conform with the Affordable Care Act. Under the new rules, wellness incentive programs must be “voluntary” and cannot exclude employees who fail to satisfy particular health metrics. Employers must provide new written confidentiality notices to employees and any financial incentives must be capped at 30% of the cost for self-only health insurance coverage (rather than 30% of the cost for coverage in which the employee is actually enrolled). Read More

Ban the Box – All employers must comply by July 1, 2017

For most job positions, Vermont employers will not be permitted to request criminal history record information on initial employment applications. Employers may still inquire about an applicant’s criminal history during the interview process, but the applicant must also be afforded an opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding any conviction.

And if that wasn’t enough …

The NLRB and Employee Handbooks

It is well-established that employees have the right to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection. This right extends not only to union activities, but also may apply to general employee complaints about terms and conditions of employment. Over the past few years, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has taken on a broad review of employee handbooks, in both unionized and non-union settings, to determine if published work rules have a “chilling effect” on employee rights. Through this review, the NLRB has been continually finding a number of handbooks to be unlawful. If an employer has not had its handbook reviewed in the past year, it is advisable to have it reviewed by counsel. Read More

The Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) is Now in Effect

The DTSA was recently signed into law and will now enable companies to file trade secrets litigation in federal courts. However, while this law provides companies with another arrow in the quiver for protecting proprietary information, the DTSA also provides for new whistleblower protections and requires that businesses notify employees, contractors, and consultants of new whistleblower immunity notifications. Read More


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