Are You Ready For The End of the Year?

Written by Robert G. Brody and Alexander Friedman on December 30, 2014

As the year winds down, you may be tempted to relax, put your feet up, and enjoy the holiday season.  But while a little well-deserved rest and relaxation is never a bad thing, remember: with the end of the year right around the corner you should be prepared for new laws and review your employees’ total compensation.

Make Sure You Are Paying Your Employees the Correct Minimum Wage

A number of states and municipalities around the country will see their minimum wage go up after the start of the New Year.  New Jersey’s minimum wage will rise to $8.38 from the previous $8.25.  This is pursuant to a referendum passed by New Jersey voters in 2013 which raised New Jersey’s minimum wage by a dollar in 2014 and tied future increases to inflation.

New York’s minimum wage is set to increase to $8.75 on December 31.  With New York’s many unique wage and hour requirements, you should make sure the increase is reflected in all of your pay practices.  Be mindful of how the minimum wage increase affects uniform maintenance pay, split shift/spread of hours pay, call-in pay, and tip, meal, and lodging credits.  As with any wage increase, affected employees must also receive a Wage Theft Prevention Act notice to reflect their new pay rate.

Connecticut’s minimum wage will rise to $9.15 from $8.70 on January 1.  This is based on the minimum wage legislation passed and signed into law earlier this year.  It is one of a series of increases which will culminate in a $10.10 minimum wage in 2017.

The Northeast is not the only area where the minimum wage will increase at the end of the year.  The minimum wage will increase in twenty one different states.  In Washington State it will rise to $9.47, currently the highest in the country.  Vermont, which passed a bill earlier this year to increase its minimum wage to $10.50 by 2018, will see its minimum wage rise to $9.15.

Will You Be In Compliance With Sick Leave Laws?

A number of sick leave ordinances passed by New Jersey municipalities in 2014 will go into effect at the end of the year or the beginning of January.  These municipalities are Paterson, Irvington, East Orange and Passaic.  Montclair and Trenton, whose voters approved sick leave law referendums in the November elections, will see their laws go into effect in March.  Sick leave ordinances in Newark and Jersey City are already in effect.  Similar laws exist in other states across the country.  Most of them are similar to what is described below.

Under the Newark, Paterson, Irvington, East Orange, Passaic, Montclair and Trenton ordinances, businesses with 10 or more workers must allow their employees to earn up to 40 hours of sick time per year at a rate of 1 hour of sick time per 30 hours worked.  Most businesses with fewer than 10 workers must allow their employees to earn up to 24 hours of sick time per year (child care workers, home health care workers, and food service workers can accrue up to 40 hours per year in all cases).  The Jersey City ordinance provides for up to 40 hours of paid sick time for employees in businesses with 10 or more workers and up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time for employees in businesses with fewer than 10 employees.  In all these cases, employees must work 80 hours within the applicable jurisdiction in a year to be eligible to accrue sick time.  Employers are also required to provide notice to their employees that sick time is available to them.

Once these laws go into effect, your policies must allow eligible employees to accrue and use sick time as required.  The only exceptions are employers who already have policies as or more generous than what is required under the ordinances – if you have such a policy, you do not have to do anything further to be in compliance with the ordinances.  Employers located within the limits of any of these cities should consult with counsel to ensure they are aware of all of their requirements under and the nuances of the applicable ordinance.

Prepare A Compensation Summary For Employees So Know They Are Worth More To You Than They Think

Employees receive a variety of forms of compensation, many of which they themselves may not directly see or recognize.  Insurance and other benefits, training, and more are all significant costs which are not directly reflected in employees’ paychecks.  Consider preparing a compensation summary highlighting these items and their costs.  This document can be distributed to employees around the holidays as a year end summary or to start the New Year off.  This way, employees can appreciate the full value of their employment and the costs you incur in employing them in a way their wages by themselves do not fully represent.

We wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season.  We offer assistance to management on these and all types of employment-related issues.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.

THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON THE LAW.COM CONTRIBUTOR NETWORK ON DECEMBER 29, 2014.

About the Authors

Robert G. Brody is the founding member of Brody and Associates, LLC. He has been quoted and published in national publications and appears as a guest T.V. commentator on contemporary Labor and Employment issues. Learn More

Alexander Friedman is an Associate with Brody and Associates, LLC. He works on both Labor and Employment Law matters. Learn More