Several new obligations took effect at the beginning of this year. They require action by most employers. To avoid costly pitfalls, all employers should take note of the following brief summary of the changes:
New Minimum Wage For Washington Employees: Beginning January 1, 2009, Washington's minimum wage for nonagricultural employees increased 48 cents to $8.55 an hour. Employers with Washington employees must take steps to ensure that all of its nonagricultural employees, unless exempt from minimum wage laws, receive pay that complies with this new hourly minimum wage. Any additional pay earned but not yet paid should be delivered to employees in accordance with the employer's regularly scheduled pay period.
Reflecting this change in minimum wage, a new Minimum Wage poster has been issued by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries. It is recommended that all employers with Washington employees post this poster. It should be posted in an area where employees will see it. Information on the new minimum wage and access to the new poster may be found at: http://www.lni.wa.gov/WorkplaceRights/Wages/Minimum/default.asp
Information on and access to other required or recommended Department of Labor & Industries posters may be found at: http://www.lni.wa.gov/IPUB/101-054-000.pdf.
New Amendments & Notice Requirements For Family Medical Leave Act: The recently adopted final rule incorporating the Department of Labor's interpretation of the FMLA goes into effect on January 16, 2009. In addition to incorporating military family leave entitlements and clarifying employee eligibility for leave; the new FMLA regulations require employers to provide all employees with certain FMLA notices (for more information on the major changes created by the new FMLA regulations, click here). All covered employers who have not already done so should educate supervisors and human resources personnel about these change; ensure that the necessary forms and notices are on hand; revise employee handbooks or other written materials to reflect the amendments and to include a general notice of employee rights and responsibilities under FMLA; and post the new FMLA poster in a conspicuous location. Employers who do not have a handbook should provide the general FMLA notice to employees when they are hired.
The new notice and certification forms provided by the Department of Labor include:
• General Notice of FMLA Rights and Responsibilities (WH Publication 1420): to be included in the employee handbook, or provided to employees when they are hired if there is no handbook.
• Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities (WH-381): to be provided within five business days from when an employee requests leave.
• Designation Notice to Employee of FMLA Leave (WH-382): to be given to the employee within five business days from the time that the employer has sufficient information to determine whether the employee's leave qualifies as FMLA leave.
• The Department has also added new forms for Certification of Qualifying Exigency for Military Family Leave (WH-384), and Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Covered Servicemember for Military Family Leave (WH-385).
• There are now separate certification forms for an Employee's Serious Health Condition (WH-380-E) and for a Family Member's Serious Health Condition (WH-380-F). These forms may be given to the employee at the same time as the Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities.
• Finally, the Department of Labor has issued a new FMLA poster that employers subject to the FMLA should post in an area that their employees will see. The new poster may be found at http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/finalrule/FMLAPoster.pdf.
Additional compliance assistance materials are also available on FMLA Final Rule Web site at http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/finalrule.htm.
If you have any questions regarding the impact of these new obligations on your business and/or what changes should be made to your policies or practices to ensure compliance, legal counsel should be consulted as this notice cannot substitute for proper legal advice.