I know what you’re thinking, it’s not even September yet. I’ll worry about January sometime in December.
The beginning of the year may seem like a long way away, but it can sneak up on you. I often have employers who are scrambling at the end of the year to understand legal changes and to update policies to insure compliance.
In the spirit of getting ready to go back to school, we thought we’d start educating employers now of the changes to come and laws that are effective on January 1, 2017. We will periodically update the list and try to do an overall round-up in December of laws going into effect in January 2017.
1. FLSA exemption rules. The biggest sea change on the legal landscape is the revised definition of the salary test under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In order to be exempt employees, employees must meet the salary test and perform exempt job duties. The final rule settled on the new weekly salary of $913 (or $47,476 per year), which is a significant increase over the old threshold of $455 per week. Employees must earn at least $913 in salary (may include certain bonuses) per week or they cannot be considered exempt employees regardless of whether they perform exempt job duties. More details can be found here in the Firm’s alert. Be warned, however, that the effective date of this rule is December 1, 2016; it is such a big deal that we wanted to include it here.
2. Connecticut Ban the Box. The Fair Chance Employment law was signed in June 2016 and is effective January 1, 2017. The law prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal background history on an employment application. There are two exceptions to the rule and employers may ask questions about criminal history on applications where: (1) required to do so by law; or (2) a security or fidelity bond or equivalent bond is required for the position. In addition, employers may not at any time ask about criminal records that have been “erased” by statute.
Employers should review application forms to remove any objectionable questions. Where employers are permitted by statute to ask about criminal backgrounds on an application, the employers must include a clear disclaimer that applicants are not obligated to disclose erased records and must advise what records may be subject to erasure. Employers must also advise that where a criminal records has been erased, the applicant will be deemed to have never been arrested.
Employers must also insure that portions of applications that disclose criminal backgrounds can only be viewed by HR personnel, or where there is no HR, the person in charge of employment and any person involved in interviewing the candidate. There are limited exceptions to the disclosure rule as may be required by FINRA, for an insurance producer, or the FDIC Act.