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Kicking Off the New Year: Are You In Compliance?

The New Year is here and with it come new goals for federal agencies, and new rules and regulations taking effect.  With a new administration, a new political agenda, and several pending rules and regulations in the works, employers must ensure they are kicking off the New Year right.  The following is a recap of employment laws taking effect in 2017:
Arkansas Minimum Wage Increase Effective January 1, 2017

On January 1, 2017, Arkansas's minimum wage increased to $8.50 per hour, per a ballot initiative passed in 2014. Currently, 29 states, including Arkansas, have minimum wages above the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour). When the state minimum wage rate is higher than the federal rate, employers are required to pay non-exempt employees the higher amount.

Employers Required to Comply with OSHA Recordkeeping Rule Effective January 1, 2017 
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now requires employers to electronically submit detailed annual reports of workplace injuries and illnesses for publication online.  Reporting requirements will be phased in over two years, as follows: Establishments with 250 or more employees must begin submitting information from Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and must submit information from all forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2. Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must begin submitting information from Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and again by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.
Federal Contractors Required to Comply with "Fair Pay/Safe Workplace" Rule Effective January 1, 2017
 
Federal contractors and subcontractors are now required to provide comprehensive wage statements to employees. The requirement is part of a new rule, issued August 25, 2016, commonly called the "Fair Pay/Safe Workplace" rule.  Federal contractors with contracts over $500,000 are required to provide "transparent" wage statements to their workers on federal contracts. The new clause in the Federal Acquisition Regulation requires that the wage statement contain:
  1. Hours worked
  2. Overtime hours
  3. Rate of pay
  4. Gross pay
  5. An itemization of each addition to and deduction from gross pay
For more on the paycheck transparency rule, click here: https://www.dol.gov/asp/fairpayandsafeworkplaces/PaycheckTransparency.htm
Employers Required to Comply with EEOC Rules on Employer Wellness Programs Effective January 1, 2017
Effective January 1, 2017, employers with workplace wellness programs should ensure compliance with final rules issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May 2016. The rules provide guidance to both employers and employees about how workplace wellness programs can comply with federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and the Affordable Care Act. The rules are intended to permit wellness programs to operate consistent with their stated purpose of improving employee health, while including protections for employees against discrimination.
Federal Contractors Must Offer Paid Sick Leave Effective January 1, 2017
Federal contractors and subcontractors are now required to offer paid sick and domestic leave under solicitations issued on or after January 1, 2017.  The rule requires federal contractors to provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year to employees working on covered contracts and provides employers with choices in how to best adapt the paid sick leave requirement to their businesses. For example, employers can choose to allow workers to accrue leave over time or to frontload leave for ease of administration.
OSHA Clarifies Employers' Recordkeeping Obligations Effective January 18, 2017
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule, effective January 18, 2017, that clarifies an employer's continuing obligation to make and maintain an accurate record of each employee recordable injury and illness for the full five-year record retention period.
Employers Required to Use New "Smart Form I-9" Effective January 22, 2017
 
On January 22, 2017, employers will be required to use the new "Smart Form I-9." Employers may continue using the current version of Form I-9 until January 21, 2017. After January 21, all previous versions of the Form I-9 will be invalid, and employers will be required to use the new version.
In Conclusion
 
Employers' New Year's resolutions should include compliance with these newly-implemented rules and laws. Although President-elect Trump and leaders of the 115th Congress have pledged to review and rescind certain federal laws, the new rules are the law of the land until and if these political promises are kept.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding implementation of these or other employment laws, please contact one of our CGWG labor and employment attorneys today.