DHS Issues Interim Final Rule Defining Key Practices for Adjudicating H-1B Third-Party Placement Petitions

On October 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its interim final rule, “Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program,” which will become effective December 7, 2020. This rule brings clarity to prior U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudication policies that had been interpreted through two internal memoranda—Determining Employer-Employee Relationship for Adjudication of H-1B Petitions, Including Third-Party Site Placements and Contracts and Itineraries Requirements for H-1B Petitions Involving Third-Party Worksites.

401(k) Plan Sponsors—Do You Need to Start Tracking Hours for Your Part-Time Employees?

At the end of 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, which included a number of changes to employer-sponsored retirement plans. One change involved expanding the ability of long-term, part-time employees to make 401(k) deferral contributions. While this change becomes effective in 2024, employers that apply an eligibility service requirement to determine whether employees can contribute to a 401(k) plan must begin tracking hours of service for part-time employees beginning January 1, 2021.

California’s New AB 1512 Revises Security Officer Rest Period Rules

On September 30, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1512, which amends California Labor Code Section 226.7 by authorizing employers to require certain unionized private security officers “to remain on the premises during rest periods and to remain on call, and carry and monitor a communication device, during rest periods.”

DHS Issues Interim Final Rule to Restrict Requirements for H-1B Visa Classification

On October 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its long-speculated interim final rule, “Strengthening the H-1B Nonimmigrant Visa Classification Program.” According to the interim final rule’s summary, the purpose of the new rule is to “strengthen the integrity of the H-1B program during the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency to more effectively ensure that the employment of H-1B workers will not have an adverse impact on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.”

Michigan OSHA Issues Emergency Rules Related to COVID-19

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has issued emergency health and safety rules aimed at controlling, preventing, and mitigating the spread of COVID-19. The emergency rules, which Governor Gretchen Whitmer approved, represent a further effort to fill the void left by a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision invalidating many of the governor’s COVID-19 executive orders.

The SEC’s Enhanced Human Capital Disclosure Requirement: What Companies Should Know

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently announced a new human capital disclosure requirement for public companies to “reflect the many changes in our capital markets and the domestic and global economy in recent decades.” Over the past several years, human capital has become increasingly important to investors. “Human capital” generally refers to the value of a company’s workforce, which is often influenced by a company’s policies and procedures related to recruitment, retention, training, development, health and safety, diversity and inclusion, and culture. Investors see human capital as an essential component in creating long-term shareholder value and have increasingly prioritized strong human capital practices.

UK Government’s New Guidance on Job Retention Bonus Related to CJRS

As part of its Plan for Jobs 2020, the UK Government announced in July 2020 that it would pay a bonus to employers that brought furloughed employees back to work and kept such employees continuously employed until 31 January 2021. Further guidance has now been published, in addition to a Treasury Direction, which states that the Job Retention Bonus is intended to “enhance and consolidate” the purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which is to preserve the jobs of furloughed employees.

Is Politics at Work Business as Usual? What New York Employers Need to Know as the Elections Approach

The year 2020 has certainly come with its share of new challenges. Now, with the presidential election less than a month away, heightened tensions around the country, new remote work environments, videoconferences offering a window into employees’ personal lives, face masks with political slogans, and so much more, New York employers might want to start thinking through what employee political conduct they can and can’t regulate this election season.

Will COVID-19 ‘Long-Haulers’ Be Next to Test the Limits of the ADA?

As the pandemic continues, a segment of individuals who contracted COVID-19 reports that they have not experienced a quick recovery. Rather, they are continuing to suffer symptoms months after initial onset of the disease. Known as coronavirus “long-haulers,” these individuals report that they endure effects such as chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, brain fog, and other symptoms far down their road to recovery. While recuperation from a typical cold or flu lasts between 7 to 14 days, long-haulers are reportedly experiencing the consequences of COVID-19 for a far longer period and months after diagnosis.

Michigan’s Latest COVID-19 Developments: What Employers Need to Know

In the wake of the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the state’s COVID-19-related executive orders, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued new orders, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) has ramped up enforcement of COVID-19-related protocols, and local counties are issuing their own orders as well.

AB 2257 Enacts Significant Changes to AB 5 on Classification of Workers as Independent Contractors

California’s statute governing the classification of independent contractors, enacted under Assembly Bill (AB) 5, underwent a significant renovation on September 4, 2020, when Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2257. The emergency measure, which takes effect immediately, contains several new exemptions and revises existing law related to exemptions for business-to-business relationships, referral agencies, professional services, and performance artists, among others.

NYC Employers, Get Ready: City Issues New Requirements for Earned Safe and Sick Time Act

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law New York City Council Int. No. 2032-A on September 28, 2020, after the city council passed the bill a few days earlier. The legislation, which took effect on September 30, 2020, amends the New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act (ESSTA) and generally aligns the ESSTA with the New York State Sick Leave Law (New York Labor Law § 196-b) (NYSSLL), the accrual provisions of which also took effect on September 30, 2020.

USCIS to Expand Premium Processing Program, Increase Fee Rates

On October 1, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law a stopgap spending measure to fund the U.S. government through December 11, 2020. The spending measure includes a provision titled “Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act,” which authorizes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to expand the premium processing program and to increase program fees.

DHS Partially Enjoined From Enforcing Proclamation Suspending Entry of Certain Foreign Nationals

On October 1, 2020, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued a limited preliminary injunction enjoining the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from “implementing, enforcing, or otherwise carrying out” Section 2 of Presidential Proclamation 10052 of June 22, 2020, which suspended the entry of individuals into the United States on select nonimmigrant visas.

Ontario Tightens COVID-19 Restrictions in ‘Hotspot’ Regions for at Least 28 Days

On October 9, 2020, the Government of Ontario announced additional restrictions on and closures of public gatherings, specific businesses, and indoor food and drink service, in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. These restrictions are currently applicable within the “hotspots” of the “Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto public health unit regions.”

Federal Court Finds Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act Contains Implied Private Right of Action

On September 25, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania became the first federal court in the Third Circuit to rule that Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act (MMA) allows an employee to bring a private lawsuit against his or her employer for taking an adverse employment action “solely on the basis of such employee’s status as an individual who is certified to use medical marijuana.”

Pennsylvania’s New Overtime Salary Thresholds Take Effect

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s (DLI) amendments to the regulations that exempt executive, administrative, and professional (so-called “white collar”) salaried workers from overtime requirements under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act of 1968 (PMWA) went into effect on October 3, 2020. The amended regulations were originally approved on January 31, 2020.

DOL Issues Interim Final Rule Adjusting Wage Level Calculations for H-1B, H-1B1, E-3 Visa and PERM Programs

On October 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its long-speculated interim final rule, “Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States.” The new rule will update how the existing “four-tiered wage structure based on the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage survey” is calculated for purposes of determining prevailing wages. The rule goes into effect immediately on October 8, 2020, with no notice period. These changes will result in significant wage increases to the wage levels for all four levels of the OES survey, across all occupations. The wage adjustments will affect the processing of H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 temporary work visas, as well as permanent labor certification program (PERM) applications.

New California Pay Data Collection Law Establishes March 31 Reporting Deadline

On September 30, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill 973 into law as Government Code Title 2, Division 3, Part 2.8, Chapter 10, § 12999. The bill authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (Santa Barbara) is titled “Employers: annual report: pay data,” and it states that while “progress [has been] made in California in recent years to strengthen California’s equal pay laws,” there is still a significant gender pay gap and for women of color that pay gap is greater. To address these pay issues, the California Government Code’s new section 12999 requires pay data reports from covered employers and delegates additional powers to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing relating to the new pay data reporting requirement. Section 12999 requires covered employers to file pay data reports no later than March 31, 2021, and on or before every March 31 thereafter.

20 Tips for U.S. Virgin Islands Employers in 2020: Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

Conducting business in the U.S. Virgin Islands poses unique challenges not often encountered in the states, but also unique opportunities. This 20-part series offers tips for doing business in the U.S. Virgin Islands, covering a broad array of topics affecting employers. Part 12 of this series addresses the workplace laws protecting victims of domestic violence.

OSHA Clarifies Reporting Requirement for COVID-19-Related Hospitalizations and Fatalities With New FAQs

On September 30, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a new series of answers to its “COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) guidance relating to an employer’s obligation to report work-related hospitalizations and fatalities that occur as a result of COVID-19. The new FAQs clarify that the work-related “incident,” which triggers an employer’s reporting obligation, is an employee’s exposure to the coronavirus in the workplace.

Puerto Rico–Qualified Retirement Plans: 2020 Year-End Amendments Deadline Coming Soon

All of the recent changes to the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules of Section 401(a)(9) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, except for provisions related to the handling of tax-free rollovers, may be applied to Puerto Rico participants in dual-qualified plans (i.e., U.S.-qualified retirement plans that cover both U.S. and Puerto Rico employees) exactly as they are applied to U.S. participants. Puerto Rico participants are, therefore, eligible for the recently extended required beginning date and may waive taking RMDs for 2020.