The latest regulatory information on taxes, wages and paid leave.
Federal – Democratic leaders in the U.S. House announced their intent to hold a floor vote by August on legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hr and eliminate the tip credit. The debate within the Democratic caucus highlights a rift between the progressive and moderate wings of the party. Regardless of house activity, it is still unlikely that the senate will consider the bill.
Federal – Prominent Congressional Democrats introduced legislation to raise the overtime threshold for nearly all workers making less than $51,000. This stands in contrast to the Labor Department’s proposed rule that would increase the overtime threshold to just over $35,000.
Delaware – A senate committee advanced legislation to increase the minimum wage to $11/hr by 2020 followed by an annual $1/hr increase until it hits $15/hr by 2024. The bill now goes to the full senate.
Nevada – The governor signed legislation to raise the state minimum wage to $12/hr by 2024 for companies that do not offer health insurance. The wage would be $11/hr for companies that do.
Rhode Island – Legislation to increase the minimum wage to $11.50/hr passed out of a senate committee. The increase is less than the governor proposed in her annual budget but is still unlikely to move in the house.
Chicago, IL – Legislation was introduced to increase the city minimum wage to $15/hr by 2021, four years earlier than the scheduled statewide increase to the same level. The bill, as currently written, would also eliminate the tip credit.
Massachusetts – In a reversal, the governor and legislative leaders agreed on a three-month delay on implementation of the state’s new paid family and medical leave program until Oct. 1 instead of July 1. At that point, the state will begin collecting a .63% payroll tax from employers to fund the nearly $800 million program. Benefits will be available Jan. 1, 2020.
Oregon – With the end of legislative session approaching, lawmakers are beginning to move legislation requiring 12 weeks of paid family leave. The cost of the program would be split between employers and employees, 60 percent and 40 percent respectively. Small businesses, defined as companies with fewer than 25 employees, could apply for grants to cover some cost of the program. Despite significant concessions from proponents’ initial proposal, many details of the program still must be resolved.
Albany County, NY – Legislation to enact a paid sick leave law was voted down by the county legislature. The bill, if passed, would have provided one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked with an annual cap of 40 hours.
Washington, DC – The paid leave law passed in 2016 takes effect in July of 2020. In advance of that, the city will begin collecting the 0.62% quarterly payroll tax on employees’ total wages on July 1 of this year for the time period April 1-July 1.
Target – The retailer announced an enhanced benefit package for their full and part-time employees including extended paid family leave and back-up child care. They also reaffirmed their commitment to raising starting wages to $15/hr by the end of 2020.
California – Rideshare companies Uber and Lyft are floating a potential compromise with California lawmakers on pending independent contractor legislation. State legislators have been pushing forward with an effort to codify in law a recent court decision (the Dynamex decision) that, in effect, would reclassify a large number of independent contractors in the state as employees. In exchange for protecting the independent contractor status of drivers, the rideshare companies are offering to provide a number of benefits and they would allow drivers to organize into a worker association. Many business groups worry that the current situation, as well as proposed legislation, creates confusion around all business-to-business relationships.
Washington – The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries proposed on June 5 that any salaried worker earning less than $49,000 annually at a company with at least 51 employees would be entitled to overtime for hours exceeding 40 hours per week. Under a plan tied to the state minimum wage, the threshold would rise to $80,000 in annual salary by 2026. Multiple hearings will be held on the issue throughout the summer and the comment period runs until Sept. 6, 2019.
McDonald’s – The company continues to face criticism from national political figures over sexual harassment and violence within its stores. This week a number of U.S. Senators signed a letter calling on McDonald’s to exert more control over its franchisees in this regard. Presidential contenders Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke all joined Fight for $15 pickets, following a number of presidential candidates joining SEIU-backed protests earlier this month.
Chicago, IL – The city council this week discussed pending legislation to enact a mandated scheduling ordinance. As proposed, it would require two weeks advance notice of schedules, premium pay for adjustments and significant paperwork requirements. The current version applies to companies with more than 250 employees and 30 locations worldwide. Final passage is highly likely.
Nevada – Legislation expanding sales tax collection obligations to online sellers was signed by the governor. The law establishes a minimum economic threshold of $100,000 in annual sales for all sellers and mandates that online marketplace providers collect sales taxes on sales made by third-party vendors on their site.
Texas – Legislation expanding sales tax collection obligations to online sellers was signed by the governor. The law mandates that online marketplace providers collect sales taxes on sales made by third-party vendors on their site.
- Companies need to pay attention to the overtime activity in Washington state. Despite the overtime rulemaking process underway at the Labor Department, many large blue states will likely find the final federal overtime threshold unacceptable and aggressively move to enact much higher state standards. In fact, both Maine and Massachusetts are currently considering legislation. It is easy to envision a situation where 8-10 very populous states with heavy concentrations of restaurants go down the same road as Oregon, California and New York.
- Companies should not make the mistake of viewing the current challenges facing McDonald’s as merely a “McDonald’s Issue.” While the company is the current target, and likely to remain that way, that could change without notice and other brands could quickly find themselves in a similar position. Brands should use this opportunity to make sure their “house is in order” when it comes to harassment-related issues.
Legislature Status for Week of 6/17/19
- The United States Senate is in session this week
- The United States House is in session this week
- Fifteen state legislatures are in regular session:
- AK, CA, DE, ME, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, RI, VT
The Regulatory Wrap-Up is presented by Align Public Strategies. Click here to learn how Aligncan provide your brand with the counsel and insight you need to navigate the policy and political issues impacting retail.
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