The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently announced that it is extending the due date for certain 2018 Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting forms to be provided to employees.
In addition, the IRS notice extends “good faith transition relief” for one more year. The IRS will not penalize employers for incorrect or incomplete forms if they can show that they have made “good-faith efforts” to comply with the information-reporting requirements. According to the IRS, the relief applies to missing and inaccurate taxpayer identification numbers and dates of birth, as well as other information required on the return or statement. No relief is provided if the employer did not timely file or furnish the reports by the applicable deadlines or did not make a good-faith effort to comply.
For more information, visit the IRS website.
California employers that don’t already offer a workplace retirement savings vehicle will be required to either begin offering one via the private market or provide their employees access to CalSavers, a state-run retirement savings plan, as early as June 2020.
The CalSavers pilot program is open for employers to enroll; however, mandatory enrollment and contributions do not go into effect until 2020. Employers need not register until then, or later for smaller employers.
Emergency regulations governing the CalSavers program were recently approved by the Office of Administrative Law.
CalSavers is the result of 2016 legislation enacting the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program (SCRSP) for private sector workers whose employers do not offer a retirement plan.
The legislation requires employers with five or more employees that do not offer specified retirement plans to put a payroll arrangement into place that requires employees to contribute a portion of their salary or wages to a retirement savings plan in the SCRSP, unless they opt out.
Employers that already offer a qualified retirement savings program will not be mandated to have their employees enrolled in the SCRSP. Employers retain the right at all times to set up and offer their own qualified retirement plan.
Registration Opens July 2019
According to the CalSavers website, employers will be able to start registering on July 1, 2019. Compliance will be phased in over a three-year period based on the size of the employer.
It is intended that employers’ responsibility is simply as a pass-through, to deduct and submit contributions from employee wages.
The program will be funded by an automatic 5% payroll deduction, the default contribution determined by the Secure Choice Investment Board. Employers will be required to automatically deduct contributions from employee paychecks and to transmit payroll contributions to the program.
The employer makes no contribution into the retirement account.
Employer Registration Deadlines
Deadlines for registering for the CalSavers program are as follows:
CalChamber is featuring three new 2019 laws in its latest version of Capitol News Report. The video provides details about expansion of sexual harassment prevention training requirements and the need to provide lactation accommodations in the workplace as well as providing information about a mandate requiring that women be placed on corporate boards.
Sexual Harassment Training
In the video, CalChamber Executive Vice President and General Counsel Erika Frank discusses new sexual harassment prevention training requirements that will impact virtually every business in the state and all their employees and supervisors.
Current law requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide supervisors with two hours of sexual harassment prevention training. Under SB 1343, by January 1, 2020, all employers with five or more employees will be required to provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to supervisors and one hour to non-supervisorial employees and within six months of hire or promotion, and every two years after that.
“Employers can satisfy this training in a number of ways,” Frank says. “They can offer live training or they can do computer-based training, which CalChamber offers.”
Beginning January 1, 2020, temporary and seasonal employees will be required to be trained within 30 days of hire or 100 hours worked, whichever is earlier.
Gender Representation on Boards of Directors
The video also features information on a highly controversial law mandating female representation on corporate boards.
Jennifer Barrera, CalChamber Senior Vice President of Policy, explains that publicly held corporations with principal executive offices in California will now be required to place at least one female director on its board by December 31, 2019. Depending on the board’s size, up to three female members may be required by the end of 2021. Significant financial penalties apply if a company fails to achieve the required number of female directors.
When signing SB 826 (Chapter 954, Statutes of 2018) into law, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. acknowledged it could face significant legal challenges.
“Some company who’s impacted by the law could file a legal claim suggesting that it’s unconstitutional for a company to retain a member on their board of directors solely based upon on their gender,” Barrera explains. “However, until that legal action happens, it is the law in California.”
Another new law requires all employers to provide lactation accommodations for employees. Before the new law, a bathroom was a permissible lactation accommodation space per California law. As of January 1, 2019, an employer must provide a reasonable lactation space other than a bathroom. The employer may be able to utilize a temporary space, so long as it meets the specifications of the new mandate.
CalChamber Policy Advocate Laura Curtis explains that the requirement “is really going to impact employers with 50 or less employees because they haven’t previously had to provide a lactation accommodation space other than a toilet stall.”
CalChamber worked diligently with the office of the author, Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Goleta), to try to develop the most workable approach.
Full List of New Employment Laws
An Overview of New 2019 Laws Affecting California Employers is now available for nonmembers to download (member download here). CalChamber members also have access to a full discussion of the new laws on HRCalifornia.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) recently issued a Notice of Administrative Determination of Preemption finding, stating that the Federal Hazardous Material Transportation Law and the Hazardous Materials Regulations preempt California meal and rest break laws for all hazardous materials motor vehicle drivers.
As California employers know, employees in California are entitled to a 30-minute off-duty meal break for shifts greater than five hours, and a second 30-minute meal break for shifts over 10 hours. In addition, employees are entitled to a 10-minute off-duty rest break for every four hours worked or major fraction thereof.
The PHMSA concluded that California’s meal and rest break requirements conflict with the federal laws governing drivers transporting hazardous materials.
The PHMSA made the following rulings:
Employers subject to the Federal Hazardous Material Transportation Law and the Hazardous Materials Regulations should monitor the status of this determination and any potential requests for judicial review, as well as consult legal counsel with questions about compliance.
CalChamber members can view more information on California’s Meal and Rest Break Requirements in the HR Library. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.
With a new series of wildfires flaring up this month, the California Chamber of Commerce presents below responses to questions often received from the employer community about how to help employees and a recent Cal/OSHA advisory on worker safety.
Employers must remember some key obligations.
Even in an emergency, employers must be mindful of obligations under state employment laws and consider pay issues for exempt and nonexempt employees related to office closures.
Employers must pay exempt employees a full weekly salary for any week in which any work is performed. If the business is closed for the entire week, however, employers don’t need to pay exempt employees.
In emergencies, special pay rules apply for nonexempt employees.
If your business shuts down for any of the following reasons, you must pay nonexempt employees only for the hours they worked before being sent home:
However, if you shut down your business at your discretion (and not for one of the above reasons), reporting time pay may be owed. When a nonexempt employee shows up for work as scheduled and is not put to work or is given less than half of his/her scheduled hours, the employee would be eligible for reporting time pay: pay for one-half of the scheduled shift, but no less than two hours and no more than four hours.
Of course, employers are always free to pay employees or let them use vacation or other personal time. Many employers may choose to provide some paid time during emergencies. Just remember to be consistent!
Leave for Health Issues
Employees may be entitled to time off to deal with health issues that occur as a result of the disaster.
For instance, employees may use their California mandatory paid sick leave for the care or treatment of a health condition for themselves or a family member, as defined by the law.
They also may be eligible for time off for family or medical leave for themselves or to care for family members with any serious health conditions under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The FMLA and the CFRA cover employers with 50 or more employees and provide a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period.
Employers may have obligations to reasonably accommodate an employee under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the state Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Should an employee suffer a physical or mental injury because of a natural disaster, he/she may be entitled to protections under these laws.
In some situations, State Disability Insurance (SDI) partial wage replacement benefits may be available for individuals injured by the disaster (nonwork-related injury). Similarly, Paid Family Leave (PFL) partial wage replacement benefits may be available for workers who take time off to care for a covered family member injured in the disaster. The Employment Development Department can provide support services for employers and employees with these determinations.
School or Child Care Leave
Employers with 25 or more employees working at the same location may need to provide unpaid time off to employees whose children’s school or child care closed due to a natural disaster, such as a fire, earthquake or flood. For emergencies, the time must not exceed 40 hours per year.
Cal/OSHA AdvisoryCal/OSHA issued an advisory on Friday reminding employers that special precautions must be taken to protect workers from hazards from wildfire smoke.
When employees are working outdoors where the air is affected by wildfire smoke, employers are required by Cal/OSHA’s standards on Control of Harmful Exposure to Employees and Respiratory Protection to determine if the outdoor air is a “harmful exposure” to employees. Exposure is harmful when the pollution or contaminants in the air cause (or are likely to cause) injury, illness, disease, impairment or loss of function.
Local air quality districts provide information on outdoor air that can assist employers in determining if the outside air is harmful to employees. Employers should pay special attention when the outdoor air quality for airborne particles is “unhealthy,” “very unhealthy,” or “hazardous.” The outdoor air quality is posted at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website, airnow.gov.
When exposure to wildfire smoke is considered harmful, employers are required to take the following measures to protect workers:
CalChamber members can find more information on Emergency Action Plans and Fire Prevention Plans on HRCalifornia. Cal/OSHA offers resources as well. Not a member? See how CalChamber can help you.