Employers periodically must comply with certain obligations imposed by law. These requirements arise annually or at other intervals, and are separate from those that arise when the employer hires or discharges employees. The following are some of the obligations employers should ensure are on their calendars for annual review.
Poster and Pamphlet Requirements
Federal and state and local laws and ordinances require employers to post notices and provide their employees with notices or pamphlets explaining certain legal rights or benefits. These include everything from unemployment insurance benefits to family/medical and pregnancy leave, minimum wage, wage orders, sexual harassment, pay day, veterans benefits, emergency telephone numbers, workers’ compensation, Cal/OSHA, voting, and whistleblower protection. Employers should subscribe to paid services and periodically check government websites to ensure they are posting and handing out the most recent versions.
Earned Income Tax Credit Notification
Employers must provide California workers with an Earned Income Tax Credit Notification annually, to all employees who receive a Form W-2 or Form 1099, regardless of earnings. The California Employment Development Department provides a sample notice on its website.
Many employers’ payroll services will take care of this obligation automatically. If not, employers should either hand the notification directly to the employee or mail it to the employee’s last known address. Employers also may provide the notification with or at the same time as the employee receives the Form W-2 or Form 1099.
California employers who employ 50 or more employees anywhere should review their training records to determine if they are in compliance with sexual harassment training requirements. Covered employers must provide training to supervisors, who supervise California employees, within six months of hire or promotion. Existing supervisors must receive training every two years.
Employers who pay wages that are either near minimum wage, or that are calculated based on minimum wage, should review whether there has been any adjustment to the minimum wage at the federal, state, and/or local level. For instance, in San Francisco, the minimum wage was increased to $10.55 per hour effective January 1, 2013. The California minimum wage remains at $8.00 per hour. In California, a change to the state minimum wage will affect the minimum salary that must be paid to “exempt” employees. (The minimum salary is two times the state’s minimum wage based on a 40 hour workweek, or $640 per week).
Employers must notify non-exempt employees of changes to wages under the Labor Code, unless the changes are reflected in a wage statement accompanying the next payroll check following the change.
The law regarding payroll or wage statements remains fluid. Employers should periodically review wage statements to ensure they comply with California law. In 2013, for example, there are changes to California law affecting itemized wage statements and wage theft notices.
California’s Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers are required to keep a log and summary of work-related injuries and illnesses. In California, employers must post Form 300A from February 1 through April 30 of each year. The required forms are available on the Department of Occupational Safety and Health website. Employers’ compliance calendars should include this annual event, because even employers without any injuries to report must post the Form 300A.
IRS Reimbursement Rate
The Internal Revenue Service issues standard mileage reimbursement rates. These are the rates many companies and taxpayers use to calculate the cost of business use of an employee’s personal automobile. The rate is 56.5 cents per mile for 2013.
The IRS typically publishes a new rate for the coming year in November. The IRS sometimes adjusts the rate during the year, particularly if there is a drastic change to fuel prices. Therefore, employers should periodically check on the IRS standard mileage reimbursement rate.
Federal law generally requires employers with 100 or more employees to report the race/ethnicity, gender, and job category of their employees to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The annual EEO-1 report filing deadline is September 30th.
Congress and state legislatures are busy re-writing employment laws all year. Agencies are issuing new regulations faster than many employers can keep up. Especially during this period of heightened activity, policies and forms may be rendered unusable without much notice. Therefore, employers should set aside time to periodically review, and if necessary, update their employee handbooks, employment applications, and new hire orientation.
Implementing a compliance calendar will help employers stay on top of perennial obligations. Employers also should set aside time at regular intervals to check on any new requirements. Human resources organizations, chambers of commerce, and law firm blogs and newsletters may provide alerts to recent employment law developments. Federal and state government websites will usually publicize new legal requirements as well.