New laws went into effect on December 1, 2016 which give overtime a whole new meaning. The Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, finalized the changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act last May. The new changes guarantee a minimum wage for all hours worked during the work week and overtime pay of at least one and one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a work week.
The Department of Labor (DOL) has updated the overtime law before, but this new implementation is quite different from past adjustments made. This change increases the White Collar Exemption salary threshold by more than 100%. Generally “white collar” exemptions in the past applied to people that worked in offices or other professional environments. Below are the four major changes:
The White Collar Exemption salary threshold was previously $455 per week or $23,660 per year. This has now increased to $913 per week or $47,476 per year. This means that salaried employees making less than $47,000 per year must be compensated for anything over 40 hours.
The Highly Compensated Employee salary threshold has increased from $100,000 per year to $134,004 per year.
There will now be automatic updates to the salary threshold every three years with the first update due to go into effect on January 1, 2020.
The final rule is quite involved with lots of exemptions, details and clauses.
Two key factors are:
The 40-hour benchmark must be calculated on a weekly, rather than a monthly basis. Therefore, an employee that works a lot of overtime at the end of the month, but less than 40 hours at the beginning of the month, is entitled to overtime for any week that they worked for more than 40 hours.
Employees do not have to be approved for the overtime that they work.
The new law has wide ramifications beyond employees making less than $47,476 a year. Employers will need to balance rather they will adjust an employees’ pay, modify their job descriptions or add in disciplinary actions for working overtime. This can all have an impact on employee morale and the amount of time off that employees are given.
It is important for an employer to figure out which of their employees will fall under this new law. The DOL has published a fact sheet which can be found at https://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime/fs17a_overview.htm, to assist with this. If an employer fails to comply with this law they may be subject to an IRS audit, DOL audit or even litigation. An employer will still have the flexibility to choose the options that work best for their workplace
The New Hampshire Legislature is currently proposing in House Bill 361 (2015) excluding individuals who exclusively work at home via the internet for on-line business activities from the general definition of employee in the New Hampshire Statute. The proposal would only apply to “a person who works exclusively at home via the internet for on-line business activities.” Such an exclusion, if passed, would allow the “virtual employer” to avoid paying workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits. The bill is currently pending.
Workers’ compensation and new businesses
By Paul Kfoury Jr.
In the early stages of starting a company, small business owners have many factors to consider. What your business does and what it requires of an employee has consequences from a workers’ compensation perspective. Understanding what exposure your company may have, and being proactive to prevent workplace injuries, can help lower the cost burden of workers’ compensation insurance.What is workers’ compensation (WC) insurance?
In a nutshell, it is insurance that covers an injury that arises out of and in the course of employment.
How many employees must a company have to require WC?
In New Hampshire, as few as one employee.
What is not covered under WC?
Circumstances vary, but these injuries are generally not covered by WC: self-inflicted injury • injury caused by intoxication from drugs and alcohol, assuming the employer did not know about the intoxication • employee-started fight, if the basis of it is personal in nature • driving to and from work, unless the worker is considered a traveling employee • participation in athletic/recreational activities, on or off premises, unless the employee reasonably expected, based on the employer’s instruction or policy, that participation was a condition of employment or required for promotion, increased compensation or continued employment • mental injury/illness arising from good faith action taken by the employer, including but not limited to: work evaluation, disciplinary action, job transfer, lay-off, demotion or termination
Can an employer still be sued?
Except for intentional torts, the state’s workers’ compensation statute bars injured employees who sustained a compensable injury from bringing action at common law or by statute. However, an employee can elect to bring action to recover damages for wrongful termination or constructive discharge. If the worker pursues this remedy, he/she waives claims for compensation allegedly caused by such termination or discharge.
What does WC insurance cover?
WC insurance specifically insures an employer for costs from a work-related injury such as lost wages, medical costs, permanent impairment awards, vocational services, and costs associated with an attorney to defend your company if there is a claim.
Paul Kfoury Jr. is a partner at Trombley Kfoury, P.A., a law firm specializing in workers’ compensation issues. He is past chair of the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Workers’ Compensation Section, and speaks with insurance companies and employers regularly. He also holds trainings and seminars involving WC issues.
The July 2013 CLM Workers’ Compensation mini seminar will be held in Chicago this year. Kirk Trombley will chair a panel presentation addressing the use of opioid medication in workers’ compensation pain management programs. Kirk will be joined on the Panel by a doctor and claims specialist. Stay tuned for more.
Stranger than truth….
I’m sure that many of you have had that odd, offbeat case from time to time. But consider these:
An Australian court ruled that a bureaucrat who was injured while having sex on a business trip was eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Apparently, during sex, a glass light fitting was torn from its mount above the bed and landed on her face. She later suffered depression and was unable to continue to work for the government. The court reasoned that if the claimant “had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room, she would be entitled to compensation even though it could not be said that her employer induced her to engage in such activity….” The Court rejected government’s argument that to be compensable the employer-government would have expressly or impliedly approved of the claimant’s conduct.
Another court – this time in the United States – ruled that an employer must pay for weight loss surgery for an obese employee to ensure success for another operation for a back injury he had at work—even though his weight (340 pounds at the time of the injury) was a preexisting condition. The court determined that without the weight loss surgery, his back surgery would not be successful.
Finally, even in New Hampshire: A woman claimed that she had bi-lateral carpal tunnel that prevented her from doing any activity with her arms, especially work. The employer sent her for an independent medical examination and, on the advice of counsel, had surveillance of the claimant to and from the doctor’s office. The claimant was videotaped getting on her Harley Davidson motorcycle, pulling it off its kickstand, and driving at a high rate of speed to the independent examination where she put on both of her arm braces. After the independent examination, she was videotaped coming out of the doctor’s office, removing her arm braces, and resuming her motorcycle ride home at a high rate of speed. The hearing officer denied the claim.
October data from the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services states that New Hampshire has the ninth-highest workers’ compensation premiums in the Nation. This is the State’s worst ranking since Oregon began publishing its figures in 1994. New Hampshire employers pay an average rate of $2.40 per $100 in payroll for workers’ compensation insurance. That is 128 percent of the national median rate of $1.88 per $100 in payroll.