Crystal Connection: October 2018


IRS Issues Guidance on Tax Credit for Paid Family and Medical Leave
As we previously noted in the summer 2018 issue of Crystal Connection, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 includes a section (Section 455) that provides a credit employers may be eligible to claim for wages paid to employees who are on family and medical leave (FMLA).

The IRS recently released Notice 2017-71, which provides detailed guidance regarding the tax credit. For key points, read our full post.

To read more about how tax reform affects group benefits, read our article “Implications of Tax Reform on Employer-Sponsored Programs” in the summer issue of Crystal Connection.

New Set of Notices and Forms for FMLA
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a new set of notices and certification forms for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The new forms were issued on September 4, 2018. Three new forms can be found on the DOL website.

The three forms that have been updated are:

  • Notice of Eligibility
  • Designation Notice
  • Certification of Health Care Provider

The only change to the forms is the expiration date that is noted in the upper right hand corner of the form. The previously posted forms had an expiration date of May 2018 and the DOL had extended the date on a month by month basis while it awaited the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve the new forms. The expiration date on the new forms is August 31, 2021.

Employers are not required to use the forms provided by the DOL; they may create their own. If an employer chooses to use their own forms, they must ensure that they be clear, easily understood, and must not have any language that conflicts with FMLA rules. There are specific rules regarding required notices to be provided to employees requesting use of FMLA. Information on these requirements can be found in The Employers Guide to The Family and Medical Leave Act, on the DOL website.

Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave: Effective January 1, 2020

Virtually all Washington employers are covered under the program. Employees will be eligible for benefits after 820 hours of employment, and benefits will be paid out at 90% of an employee’s weekly wage, capped at $1,000 per week.

Payroll deductions to fund the program begin January 1, 2019.

Read more.

Michigan Paid Sick Leave: Effective Spring 2019

On September 5, 2018, the Michigan legislature adopted the paid sick leave ballot proposal—the Earned Sick Time Act (Act). The Act requires employers to provide employees with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

It is widely expected that the Michigan legislature will amend the Act before it takes effect in the spring of 2019. As such, employers should monitor related developments. Also, as the Act’s effective date approaches, employers should become familiar with the paid sick leave law and update their paid leave and attendance policies for its requirements.

Updated Sexual Harassment Laws Affecting All Employers in New York State

On April 12, the State of New York updated its sexual harassment laws as part of Governor Cuomo’s 2018 Women’s Agenda for New York: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity initiative. Beginning October 9, 2018, all employers, regardless of size, must adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy and provide interactive training to employees in the state.

Employers may adopt the model policy and training provided by the State Department of Labor and State Division of Human Rights or adopt a similar policy or training that meets or exceeds the law’s minimum standards.

All current employees must complete the required training by January 1, 2019.

Additional Sexual Harassment Training Obligations in New York City

In addition to New York State’s budget law’s new requirements, a local law enacted by New York City in May 2018 titled Stop Sexual Harassment in New York (NYC-SSHA) requires employers in New York City that have 15 or more employees to provide additional sexual harassment training obligations, effective April 1, 2019.

Specifically, the NYC-SSHA will additionally require these employers to:

  • Keep records, including a signed employee acknowledgment from each employee (which may be electronic), of the training they provide; and
  • Maintain their training records (and make them available for the NYC-CHR’s inspection upon its request) for at least three years.

For a comparison of the state and NYC compliance obligations, please read our related compliance update.

Review Summaries of Additional State Legislation

Read More.

In Case You Missed It

Here are some articles from our September issue, just in case you missed them:

New Jersey Paid Sick Leave Act: Effective October 29, 2018

On May 2, 2018, New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act (Act) was signed into law. The Act will require virtually all employers to provide paid sick leave to employees, effective October 29, 2018. Read More

Year 2 of NY PFL Program: Changes to Contributions, Benefit Percentage and Duration

In the second year of the New York Paid Family Leave (NYPFL) program, which will commence on January 1, 2019, the maximum benefit will be 55% of the employee's average weekly wage, up to 55% of the statewide average weekly wage for up to 10 weeks of leave. The State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) used to determine the cap on contributions and benefit levels will increase from $1,305.92 to $1,357.11. Additionally, contributions will be increasing to .153% of weekly earnings, with a maximum annual contribution of $107.97.

Read our Q&A for more about New York’s paid leave program—the most robust program of its kind in the country.

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