Saturday, January 21, 2017

19 States See Minimum Wage Increase in 2017

Across the U.S., 19 states will see a state minimum wage increase in 2017. However, the Federal government hasn’t raised minimum wages in over 7 years since 2009, when it raised it from $6.55 to $7.25, some of the states on this list will see rates as high as $11 in the increase. The state minimum wage increase can bring about major changes in the way you run your business if you’re in one of these states.



Alaska will increase from $9.75 to $9.80 per hour.
Arizona will increase from $8.05 to $10 per hour.
Arkansas will increase from $8 to 8.50 per hour.
California will increase from $10 to $10.50 per hour.
Colorado will increase from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour.
Connecticut will increase from $9.60 to $10.10 per hour.
Florida will increase from $8.05 to $8.10 per hour.
Hawaii will increase from $8.50 to $9.25 per hour.
Maine will increase from $7.50 to $9 per hour.
Massachusetts will increase from $10 to $11 per hour.
Michigan will increase from $8.50 to $8.90 per hour.
Missouri will increase from $7.65 to $7.70 per hour.
Montana will increase from $8.05 to $8.15 per hour.
New Jersey will increase from $8.38 to $8.44 per hour.
New York will increase from $9 to $9.70 per hour.
Ohio will increase from $8.10 to $8.15 per hour.
South Dakota will increase from $8.55 to $8.65 per hour.
Vermont will increase from $9.60 to $10 per hour.
Washington will increase from $9.47 to $11 per hour.


Employers in these 19 states are required to update their laborlaw posters for employees as minimum wage increases. Labor Law Posters have to be in an area where every employee is able to see them.

Not all minimum wage increases are very significant. Four states -- Alaska, Florida, Missouri, and Ohio -- are raising their minimum wages by just $0.05 per hour, while two more -- Montana and South Dakota -- are seeing just a $0.10-per-hour boost. New Jersey splits the difference with a $0.06-per-hour rise. These increases all have ties to changes in the rate of inflation, with most states choosing to link their minimum wages to rises in one of the Consumer Price Index data series. 

Proponents argue that raising the minimum is one of the most practical ways of improving living standards for the working poor and reducing inequality. But others believe that, when forced to pay more in wages, many employers were hiring more productive workers, so that the overall amount they spent on each job changed far less than the minimum-wage increase would have suggested. The more productive workers appeared to finish similar work more quickly.

This would raise questions about whether increasing the minimum wage is as helpful to those near the bottom of the income spectrum as some proponents assume. The higher minimum wage could cost low-skilled workers their jobs, as employers rush to replace them with somewhat more skilled workers.


In fact, when the minimum wage goes up for everyone, it is not so easy for employers to substitute better-skilled workers because the new minimum would not offer a more attractive wage. In many cases, more highly skilled workers see their wages rise after minimum-wage increases to keep them above the new minimum, making it all the more difficult to lure them away. Therefore, it is difficult for employers to replace low-skilled workers with better-skilled workers.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

OSHA Finds Safety Failures in Wisconsin Factory after Teen Worker Dies from Injuries

A federal investigation prompted by the death of a 17-year-old worker at a Columbus metal fabrication facility has resulted in multiple safety and health violations.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued 16 serious and one other-than-serious safety and health violations to G.D. Roberts & Co. Inc., for violations the agency’s inspectors found after a machine pinned and injured the teenaged worker on June 27, 2016. He died of his injuries on July 2, 2016, only two weeks after starting job.

“A young man suffered a tragic death shortly after starting a new job, leaving his family to grieve their overwhelming loss,” said Ann Grevenkamp, OSHA’s area director in Madison. “Proper lockout devices along with training could have prevented this tragedy.”

Investigators determined the worker was clearing scrap below a loading table for an operating laser-cutter system when the machine lowered onto the victim, trapping him beneath. OSHA found that the company failed to ensure procedures to lockout the machine to prevent unintentional movement were followed, and did not train its employees properly in such safety procedures.

The agency also found G.D. Roberts failed to:
–        Conduct periodic inspections of machine safety procedures.
–        Affix lockout devices to isolate energy prior to allow employees to enter machine hazard areas.
–        Conduct noise monitoring.
–        Provide employee’s audiograms.
–        Train workers about noise hazards.
–        Follow respiratory protection standards such as fit-testing, training and medical evaluations for employees.
–        Evaluate for airborne hazards.
–        Implement engineering controls for dust and other airborne hazard exposure resulting in employee overexposure.
–        Maintain chemical inventories.
–        Train workers in forklift operation.
–        Seek manufacturer approval prior to modifying forklifts.
–        Train employees about chemicals in use in the workplace and maintain a chemical inventory.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $119,725 to the company.

 OSHA requires standards that safeguard employees from hazardous situations while servicing or maintaining machines and equipment. The standard outlines measures for controlling hazardous machines that are either electrical, mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, chemical, or thermal. Employers must comply with the code by establishing procedures for shutting down and locking out and/or tagging out equipment while it is being serviced. The LOCK OUT TAG OUT INSTRUCTIONS poster helps keep your employees safe by presenting the basics of the code and outlining the fundamentals of a lock out/tag out safety program. Hence, besides a comprehensive pre-occupational safety training, complying with requirements of such safety poster could also help you reduce risks and avoid unnecessary costs and penalties.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Apple Loses Labor Code Violation Lawsuit and Will Pay Out $2 Million


A long-running class action lawsuit between Apple and employees of its retail stores in California came to a quick conclusion last week. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2011 and elevated to class action status in 2014, involves Apple retail and corporate employees who worked for Apple between 2007 and 2012. The trial was to continue this week for corporate employees, as the jury verdict only applies to retail employees, according to a tipster. 

The suit alleged that Apple failed to give employees adequate breaks, failed to pay wages in a timely manner after employees left the company and failed to provide accurate wage statements. The case finally went to court in San Diego back in October, and a jury has now ordered Apple to pay out $2 million in restitution. Apple can now appeal the case before a higher court.

California Labor Code dictates that employees must be provided with at least a 30-minute meal break when the work period is more than five hours, and at least a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. The defendants claimed Apple failed to always provide these breaks for at least four years prior to the lawsuit. 

The settlement works out to about $95 per employee included in the class, and $2 million is a tiny fraction of the $42.4 billion Apple pulled in during Q3 alone. For its part, Apple claimed it has offered adequate breaks in accordance with California Labor Code for years before the lawsuit was filed. The company has not yet commented on today’s settlement, but the employees who were denied breaks while helping customers pick out new iPhones and iPhones will see their cash as soon as the lawyers get their cut.

California Labor Code dictates that employees must be provided with at least a 30-minute meal break when the work period is more than five hours, and at least a 10-minute rest break for every four hours worked. The defendants claimed Apple failed to always provide these breaks for at least four years prior to the lawsuit. 

Such violations of California Labor Code also happened to large enterprises in the past: In 2013, Starbucks agreed to pay $3 million to resolve a class action lawsuit accusing the company of several wage and hour violations. In 2014, FedEx agreed to pay a $2.1 million settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit about failing to provide proper meal and rest breaks. For employers in California, to avoid such lawsuits and compensation, it’s highly essential to keep an eye on labor law compliance and post Federal and California labor law posters as required by the government. Updated labor law postings help you stay compliant and minimum unnecessary loss.

Monday, December 26, 2016

How to Determine If Your Workplace Posters Are Compliant?

As an employer, federal and state laws require you to clearly display official labor and employment posters detailing federal and applicable state labor laws. Failure in posting the right posters will result in penalties and fines. Hence, it’s important to make sure which workplace posters you are required to post.

Posting requirements vary by statute; that is, not all employers are covered by each of the Department's statutes and thus may not be required to post a specific notice. For example, some small businesses may not be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act and thus would not be subject to the Act's posting requirements.

The elaws Poster Advisor can be used to determine which poster(s) employers are required to display at their place(s) of business. For information on state poster requirements , you can go to the workplace posters provider and get the most up-to-date posting requirements and professional services on posting compliance.

The following are Compliance Assistance Materials that helps you make sure if you are required to post the federal posters:

Workplace Posters
l  Employee Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act" Poster (FLSA / Minimum Wage)
Who Must Post: Every private, federal, state and local government employer employing any employee subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 USC 211, 29 CFR 516.4 posting of notices.
l  Job Safety and Health: It's the Law" Poster (Occupational Safety and Health Act/OSHA)
Who Must Post: Public agencies (including state, local, and federal employers), public and private elementary and secondary schools, as well as private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees in 20 or more work weeks and who are engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce, including joint employers and successors of covered employers.
l  "Employee Rights and Responsibilities Under The Family and Medical Leave Act" (FMLA)
Who Must Post: Public agencies (including state, local, and federal employers), public and private elementary and secondary schools, as well as private sector employers who employ 50 or more employees in 20 or more work weeks and who are engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce, including joint employers and successors of covered employers.
l  Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law" Poster (EEO)
Who Must Post: Entities holding federal contracts or subcontracts or federally assisted construction contracts of more than $10,000; financial institutions which are issuing and paying agents for U.S. savings bonds and savings notes; depositories of federal funds or entities having government bills of lading.
l  Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Provision (41 CFR Part 60-1.35)
l  Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act Notice (MSPA)
Who Must Post: Agricultural employers, agricultural associations and farm labor contractors subject to the MSPA and who employs any migrant or seasonal agricultural worker(s).
l  Employee Rights for Workers with Disabilities Paid at Special Minimum Wages" Poster (FLSA Section 14(c))
Who Must Post: Every employer having workers employed under special minimum wage certificates authorized by section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
l  Employee Polygraph Protection Act Notice (EPPA)
Who Must Post: Any employer engaged in or affecting commerce or in the production of goods for commerce. Does not apply to federal, state and local governments, or to circumstances covered by the national defense and security exemption.
l  "Your Rights Under USERRA" Notice/Poster
Who Must Post: The full text of the notice must be provided by each employer to persons entitled to rights and benefits under USERRA.
l  Employee Rights Under the H-2A Program
Who Must Post: Agricultural employers hiring temporary agricultural workers under H-2A visas.

Workplace Posters of special interest to federal contractors:
l  Notice to All Employees Working on Federal or Federally Financed Construction Projects (Davis-Bacon Act)
Who Must Post: Any contractor/subcontractor engaged in contracts in excess of $2,000 for the actual construction, alteration/repair of a public building or public work or building or work financed in whole or in part from federal funds, federal guarantee, or federal pledge which is subject to the labor standards provisions of any of the acts listed in 29 CFR 5.1.
l  "Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law" Poster (EEO)
Who Must Post: Entities holding federal contracts or subcontracts or federally assisted construction contracts of more than $10,000; financial institutions which are issuing and paying agents for U.S. savings bonds and savings notes; depositories of federal funds or entities having government bills of lading.
l  Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Provision (41 CFR Part 60-1.35)
Who Must Post: Entities holding federal contracts or subcontracts or federally assisted construction contracts of more than $10,000; financial institutions which are issuing and paying agents for U.S. savings bonds and savings notes; depositories of federal funds or entities having government bills of lading.
l  "Employee Rights on Government Contracts" Poster (SCA, CWHSSA, Walsh-Healey)
Who Must Post: Every contractor or subcontractor engaged in a contract with the United States or the District of Columbia in excess of $2,500 the principal purpose of which is to furnish services in the U.S. through the use of service employees.
l  "Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws" Poster
Who Must Post: Federal contractors and subcontractors must post the employee notice conspicuously in and around their plants and offices so that it is prominent and readily seen by employees. In particular, contractors and subcontractors must post the notice where other notices to employees about their jobs are posted.
Additionally, federal contractors and subcontractors who post notices to employees electronically must also post the required notice electronically via a link to the OLMS website. When posting electronically, the link to the notice must be placed where the contractor customarily places other electronic notices to employees about their jobs. The link can be no less prominent than other employee notices. Electronic posting cannot be used as a substitute for physical posting.
Where a significant portion of a federal contractor's or subcontractor's workforce is not proficient in English, they must provide the employee notice in languages spoken by employees. OLMS will provide translations of the employee notice that can be used to comply with the physical and electronic posting requirements.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Advice for Purchasing and Posting Labor Law Posters

Labor law posters inform workers of their rights under the federal and state labor laws. All covered employers are required to display the posters in their workplace. Employers must post revised or newly required labor law notices on the posting effective date (not before) to be in compliance with the applicable state or federal employment laws.

For purchasing and posting labor law posters, there are a few important tips to remember:

1. Purchasing labor law compliance is not a one-time thing.
Generally, labor law posters are updated at least annually, but more often throughout the year as well. Failure to keep up with state and federal postings will lead to penalties or fines up to $32,946. Hence, finding a good labor law poster service provider is important for your company to stay in compliance and avoid unnecessary costs.

2. Labor law posters have strict posting requirements.
Posters must often fit very strict compliance requirements. There are some posters which must be displayed next to another specific poster. Most posters must appear within a certain size range, ensuring that the posters easily catch the attention of employees and are easy to read. For example, OSHA posters are required to be at least 8.5" x 14" inches with 10 point type (Pic 1). Some states have different posting requirements and sizes. Sometimes it can be as simple as not having the right poster in the right size that makes a company non-compliant.


Pic 1 OSHA poster
A number of federal and state posting regulations carry a fine for not posting the labor law poster in a conspicuous place:
• The penalty for violating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) posting requirement could reach $7,000;
• An employer violating any provision of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988, including the posting requirement, faces a fine of up to $10,000; and
• Employers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) who willfully refuse to display the notice could be fined $100.
Actions by federal agencies, such as the increase in the EEOC’s poster fine, show that they continue to consider posters to be a significant means of keeping employees apprised of their rights under the law.

3. Posters in other language need to be provided to workers whose native language are not English.
Many posters have language requirements, meaning that posters need to be provided not only in English but also Spanish or other languages for non-native English speaking workers. As Spanish is a strong second language in the United States, many posters have Spanish posting requirements. When language requirements are in place, the state and federal DOLs provide the posters in the designated languages. Some posters are available in as much as 10 languages including English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, and Vietnamese. Compliance companies have the posters in the required languages and will automatically provide mandatory language posters and provide other DOL provided language posters upon request of the client.


Pic 2 California Minimum wage Poster in Spanish

Monday, December 05, 2016

Minimum Wage Posting Updates in 2016

In the US, the minimum wage is set by federal, state, and local laws. Employers generally must pay workers the highest minimum wage prescribed by federal, state, or local law. In July 2016, the federal government mandates a nationwide minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. There are 29 states with a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum as of October, 2016. 

The following map illustrates the minimum wage level in the US as of January, 2016:


During January to November 2016, 10 states have increased their minimum wage: Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, Colorado, Massachusetts, Oregon and Minnesota. Currently, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Oregon are among the states with the highest minimum wage rate in the US.





STATE
DATE
DESCRIPTION
FL
10/2016
Updated to reflect new 2017 minimum wage rate of $8.10.
MI
10/2016
Updated to reflect new 2017 minimum wage rate of $8.90, effective January 1, 2017.
MO
11/2016
Updated to reflect new 2017 minimum wage rate of $7.70, effective January 1, 2017.
NJ
11/2016
Updated to reflect new 2017 minimum wage rate of $8.44, effective January 1, 2017.
OH
10/2016
Updated to reflect new 2017 minimum wage rate of $8.15.
RI
1/2016
Rhode Island has increased its minimum wage to $9.60 per hour.
CO
1/2016
Colorado has increased its minimum wage to $8.31 per hour, effective
MA
1/2016
Massachusetts has increased its minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective January, 2016.
OR
07/2017
Oregon has increased its minimum wage to $9.75 per hour effective July 1, 2016.
MN
08/2016
Effective August 1, 2016, Minnesota has increased its minimum wage to $9.50/hr for large employers, and $7.75/hr. for small employers.


Besides the website of Department of Labor, you can also get posting updates from poster service providers such as Postersolution. They usually collect and publish the latest changes on federal and state labor law posters

Friday, December 02, 2016

Federal and State Labor Law Posting Updates in 2016

Labor Law poster helps your business stay compliant with the posting regulations required by the U.S. Department of Labor. Keeping updated with the latest labor law postings will protect your employees’ rights, which is important in the event of an audit or inspection. This article includes the federal and state labor law posting updates from January to August of 2016.

Federal Labor Law Posting Updates
In August, 2016, the federal government has released required updates to both the federal Minimum Wage posting (FSLA) and the Employee Polygraph Protection Act posting (EPPA). The new updated postings are required to be posted in every state, so employers in all 50 states will need to update their existing labor law posters.


State Labor Law Posting Updates
From January to August, 2016, 18 states have updated their labor law postings:

January, 2016 - Michigan has updated its minimum wage to $8.50 per hour, effective January 1, 2016.
January, 2016 - Kentucky has updated its Occupational Safety and Health posting.
January, 2016 - Maine has updated its Occupational Safety and Health posting. The new posting is required ONLY for public sector employees.
January, 2016 - Rhode Island has increased its minimum wage to $9.60 per hour.
January, 2016 - Colorado has increased its minimum wage to $8.31 per hour.
January 1, 2016 - San Francisco has updated its HSCO posting effective January 1, 2016.
January, 2016 - California has updated its Workers Compensation Posting.
January, 2016 - Massachusetts has increased its minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective January, 2016, and also added new information to its minimum wage posting regarding non-discrimination, equal pay, and no retaliation laws.
March, 2016 - Louisiana has updated its Earned Income Credit posting.
March, 2016 - Virginia has updated its Occupational Safety and Health posting.
March, 2016 - Wyoming has updated its Occupational Safety and Health posting.
April, 2016 - Texas has updated its Discrimination posting.
April, 2016 - California has a new Pregnancy Disability Leave posting.
May, 2016 - Wisconsin has updated its Unemployment Benefits posting.
May, 2016 - West Virginia has a new Pregnant Workers Fairness Act posting.
May, 2016 - Illinois has updated its Public Sector OSHA posting. (This update is only required for public sector companies.)
June, 2016 - Missouri has released an updated Child Labor posting.
July, 2016 - San Francisco has increased the city minimum wage to $13.00 per hour effective July 1, 2016.
July, 2016 - South Carolina has updated its Unemployment Insurance posting.
July, 2016 - Oregon has increased its minimum wage to $9.75 per hour effective July 1, 2016.
July, 2016 - Wisconsin has a new Bone Marrow and Organ Transplantation Leave posting. (The posting applies only to employers with 50 or more employees.)
July, 2016 -Georgia has updated its Workers Compensation Bill of Rights.
August, 2016 - Effective August 1, 2016, Minnesota has increased its minimum wage to $9.50/hr. for large employers, and $7.75/hr. for small employers.
August, 2016 - Virginia has updated its state-level Occupational Safety and Health posting.




Monday, November 25, 2013

U.S. Labor Board may issue complaint against Wal-Mart on strikes


(Reuters) - The U.S. National Labor Relations Board on Monday said it has authorized legal action against Wal-Mart Stores Inc for allegedly retaliating against workers who participated in strikes against the company over low pay.
Groups of Walmart workers went on strike nationwide on Nov. 22, 2012, to protest the retailer's wages and worker benefits. The day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, is typically the busiest shopping day of the year. The workers also went on strike in May and June before the company's annual shareholder meeting.
The company retaliated against employees who joined those strikes by firing them, threatening to fire them or disciplining them, the NLRB said in a statement on Monday. The labor board also said that a Walmart spokesman made comments on television threatening workers who planned to join the November protests.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said the company disagrees with the board's action.
"We believe this is just a procedural step and we will pursue our options to defend the company because we believe our actions were legal and justified," she said. "The fact is we provide good jobs and unparalleled opportunities for our associates."
NO UNIONIZED LABOR
The NLRB is the U.S. agency that enforces the nation's labor laws. It oversees union elections, polices unfair labor practice claims and is charged with enforcing the U.S. National Labor Relations Act, which allows employees to work together to improve their workplace conditions.
The NLRB's general counsel's office would bring any complaint against the retailer if one results. Last month a divided Senate confirmed a former union lawyer to the general counsel's position, essentially the agency's top prosecutor.
The protests were orchestrated by a coalition of union and workers' rights groups, including the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and OUR Walmart, which have pushed for better wages and benefits at the company.
Walmart has no unionized labor in the United States.
"The board's decision confirms what Walmart workers have long known: the company is illegally trying to silence employees who speak out for better jobs," Sarita Gupta of the pro-worker group Jobs for Justice said in a statement.
The NLRB said on Monday that it will issue a complaint against the retailing giant if it cannot reach a settlement with the workers.
"We anticipate the charges will be filed within a week or two if a settlement can't be arranged," an NLRB spokesman told Reuters.
If no settlement is reached and a complaint is filed, Walmart and the board would likely go before an administrative law judge for a trial proceeding.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

OSHA focuses on temporary worker safety


OSHA is getting tough on staffing agencies that provide employers with temporary workers if they do not provide those workers with legally required safety and health training.  But, the buck doesn’t stop there: employers that use the temporary workers are feeling the heat, too.
After investigating the death of two temporary employees from excessive heat this summer in Texas and Virginia, OSHA took action that could increase the risk of civil liability claims against the involved companies. OSHA issued citations and fines both to the temp agencies and to the employers that used the workers.
While the $13,000 to $20,000 fines issued to the companies were moderate in comparison to other OSHA penalties, the government’s actions could provide evidence that plaintiffs’ lawyers can use to help sue the employers and make an end-run around workers’ compensation shields.
In an Op-Ed piece in the Houston Chronicle last month, OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels said his agency has seen too many instances over the past year of fatalities involving workers during their first few days on the job.
“Most of these have been temporary workers,” he wrote. “We have known for a century that new workers are at increased risk for occupational injury and fatality, and that higher risk is due to a lack of safety training and experience at that work site.” 
OSHA defines temporary workers as those supplied to a host employer and paid by a staffing agency. It has used its authority under the general duty clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to enforce its rules against staffing agencies. Some OSHA officials believe that temporary workers often lack benefits, have no access to paid sick leave, and are often afraid to raise concerns for fear of reprisal.
Since April, OSHA has undertaken a national initiative to protect temporary workers in order to halt what Michaels described as a “rising toll of fatal injuries.” Agency inspectors must determine, in every inspection, if every temporary worker on the site has received the safety training and protections required by law for the job. “If they haven't, we will hold their employers accountable,” Michaels warned.
In August, Michaels announced OSHA was partnering with the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division to create new strategies to protect temporary workers. The agency is also trying to clarify the obligations staffing agencies have for their workers when they are on-site at host employers.
In the Chronicle article, Michaels said OSHA is also reaching out to labor staffing agencies, explaining how they must insist their employees are not put at risk of injury or death while working. And OSHA is making every worker, including temporary workers, aware that they have the right to contact OSHA if they face workplace hazards.
At least one state has also taken steps to protect temps. In Massachusetts, a new law effective in January requires temporary agencies to provide certain workers with written job orders that have information about the job, necessary training and which party is responsible for payment of personal protective equipment.