January 13, 2016
We hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and a great start to 2016—we wish you continued health and prosperity throughout the year.
A part of future prosperity is being prepared for what lies ahead. The Paterra Law Firm is here to help you navigate the tricky waters of employment law in 2016. Last year saw a number of major changes for employers: court cases, legislation, and regulatory actions questioned the very nature of what it means to be, and who is to be considered, an “employer” as well as an “employee.” As you know, the law attaches certain obligations, rights, and benefits to those considered employers and employees. 2016 looks to be another year of challenging workplace changes. Here are a few of the issues we are watching for you.
National Labor Relations Board On the Prowl
The NLRB is continuing to go after employers who implement and enforce rules that would prohibit employees from engaging in protected concerted activities under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Employers should be cautious and ensure that workplace policies on social media, confidentiality, investigations and communications, among other things, are narrowly tailored and do not infringe upon employee rights.
As we let you know last year, the NLRB expanded the joint-employer standard. The new standard has broadened the old definition and now finds that a joint-employer relationship exists if the alleged joint-employers possess, exercise, or simply retain the right, directly or indirectly, to control terms and conditions of employment, even if control is not actually exercised. Be wary of this standard. Employers should evaluate its business relationships and contracts to assess whether they have the right to control the terms and conditions of a contracted employee.
DOL Getting In On the Game
The Department of Labor (DOL) is becoming more involved in labor relations. Last month, the DOL proposed to implement a new Persuader Rule. The Persuader Rule will require companies seeking advice on labor relations from an attorney consultant to report this activity to the government. This rule is a blatant attempt to discourage employers from seeking labor relations advice, counsel, and services—thereby making an employer more vulnerable to union interference. We want to assure you—seeking advice is NOT illegal and is still the best way to protect your workplace. The Persuader Rule will simply require that you must report when you seek advice or use a legal service.
DOL is also expanding who is entitled to overtime and raising the minimum wage. Regulations that are likely be finalized in the spring of 2016 would greatly increase the number of employees eligible for overtime by raising the salary for exemption to $50,440.
As a result of these changes, you should expect big challenges for your business in 2016.