Stacy Jensen No Comments

Juneteenth is our newest Federal Holiday!

It has been since 1983, when Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law by then-President Reagan, that we have added a new legal public holiday. Juneteenth National Independence Day will become the 12th legal public holiday.

Juneteenth marks the date that the last enslaved African Americans were granted their freedom. On that day in 1865, Union soldiers led by Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in the coastal city of Galveston, Texas, to deliver General Order No. 3, officially ending slavery in the state.

The Senate approved the bill unanimously this week, and President Biden will sign the bill today (June 17, 2021).

Juneteenth is celebrated the 19th of June each year and was already a paid holiday for state employees in Texas, New York, Virginia and Washington.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

ACA is here to stay, at least for now.

The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the Affordable Care Act on Thursday in a decision that leaves the law intact and retains health care coverage for millions of Americans. The justices turned away a challenge from Republican-led states and the former Trump administration, which urged the justices to block the entire law.

The justices said that the challengers of the 2010 law did not have the legal right to bring the case. The Texas v. U.S. decision was just released.  The Court held that the plaintiffs lacked standing. 

Justice Stephen Breyer penned the decision, stating “We do not reach these questions of the Act’s validity, however, for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them.”

“For these reasons, we conclude that the plaintiffs in this suit failed to show a concrete, particularized injury fairly traceable to the defendants’ conduct in enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional. They have failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision. Therefore, we reverse the Fifth Circuit’s judgment in respect to standing, vacate the judgment, and remand the case with instructions to dismiss.”

Stacy Jensen No Comments

Preparing for mandatory PSL, small employers

On July 14, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law the Healthy Family and Workplaces Act (Senate Bill 205), requiring employers in Colorado to begin accruing at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours total. This new law went into effect for employers with 16 or more employees on January 1, 2021, and will be effective January 1, 2022, for all other covered employers (regardless of how many employees they employ).

The law permits use of paid sick leave hours immediately, for personal employee illness or medical appointments including well visits, to care for family members, for leave associated with certain domestic abuse or sexual assault issues, and includes mental health.

The law applies to hourly, salaried, exempt, non-exempt, and even seasonal employees, mandates only limited notice and documentation requirements for sick leave requests, prohibits retaliation against employees requesting sick leave (including any reduction in pay or discipline for requesting or taking sick leave), and requires posted notices, imposes specific record-keeping requirements.

The law does not require accrued, unused sick leave hours be paid out upon separation.

A rehire provision mandates that employees who separate and are rehired must be given the bank of hours they had upon separation.

Now is the time to contemplate policy changes that will comply with the new law. InTANDEM HR will reach out to each of our smaller clients to ensure they are in compliance with the Healthy Family and Workplaces Act (the 16+ employers were updated last year). Our software system is fully able to handle this paid sick leave mandate and has been doing so for many clients with employees who work in states with a similar paid sick leave requirement.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

It’s pride month! Celebrate LGBTQ employees by reviewing your HR practices!

LGBT Pride Month is June, to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which occurred at the end of June 1969. As a result, many pride events are held during this month to recognize the impact LGBT people have had in the world.

Since 2008, LGBTQ non-discrimination in Colorado has protected people statewide from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (employment non-discrimination for LGBT people was passed in 2007). 

Federally, just one year ago (June 15, 2020) In a 6-3 decision authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch—the Supreme Court held that Title VII’s ban on discrimination extends to gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals.

By partnering with InTANDEM HR, you have resources for initial and continual reviews of your HR policies and benefits administration to ensure bias free treatment of your employees. A few other thoughts on revisiting your employment practices…

Review additional policies and practices that may discriminate against sexual orientation and gender identify or expression, such as:

  • Hiring practices—background checks and reference checks may require applicant’s prior names that will expose them to potential employers as transgender. Ensure this information is kept confidential and not used against applicants. Results should always be stored in a file separate from the personnel file.
  • Talk about talking—eliminate wording that assumes traditional gender roles and heterosexual relationships and families as the norm.

Participate in employee training

There are many resources for Diversity and Inclusivity training. InTANDEM HR has a great in person or virtual training for you and your team. During this training, employees can learn more about their colleagues and how they can support diversity and inclusivity to reduce bias and create a safe place for LGBTQ individuals to be their authentic selves and do their best work.

Also, track both successes and areas for improvement through methods such as employee surveys, exit interviews, employee grievances and discrimination claims.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

American Rescue Plan Act

Congress recently passed the American Rescue Plan, which provides additional relief to individuals and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. Though we need further guidance, not yet released, from the DOL, we will briefly summarize some of the pieces relevant to our clients:

• An extension of the Employee Retention Tax Credit through the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2021. Any credits in 2020 must be completed by 6/1.
• An extension of the tax credits for voluntarily providing FFCRA paid sick and family leave another two quarters – through Sept. 30, 2021. Keep in mind that Colorado has the PHE (public health emergency) paid leave obligation. The DOL has not clarified if employers voluntarily abiding by the FFCRA can cap their offerings at 80 hours or if they must extend it to the 14 weeks noted in the Act.
• An increase in the exclusion for employer-provided dependent care assistance for 2021 from $5,000 to $10,500. We are reaching out to employees directly so that they may voluntarily increase their elections if they desire.
• A temporary subsidy of 100 percent for COBRA qualified beneficiaries where the employee’s qualifying event was an involuntary termination of employment or reduction in hours due to the pandemic, with the subsidy paid by the employer, plan, or insurer and reimbursed by the government through a refundable payroll tax credit. This will take effect 4/1/2021 – 9/30/2021. Our TPA, 24hourflex, will administer this.
• A temporary elimination of the upper income limit for eligibility for premium tax credits in the ACA exchanges – which is currently set at 400 percent of the federal poverty level for 2021 and 2022 – and an increase in the amount of the premium tax credits by decreasing the amount that an individual must contribute to the cost of coverage.
• An expansion of the eligibility guidelines for the Paycheck Protection Program to allow more nonprofit entities to be eligible.
• A direct subsidy of $28.6 billion set aside for restaurants to be administered by the Small Business Administration, with $5 billion of this amount set aside for restaurants with gross revenue of less than $500,000.
The American Rescue Plan extends several unemployment provisions in the CARES, Family First, and CAA bills, including:
• The waiver of interest on outstanding loans to states to pay unemployment compensation.
• 100 percent federal reimbursement of regular extended unemployment benefits.
• Additional funding for systems and to address fraud.
• An increase in federal reimbursement credits to reimbursing employer accounts.

Finally, the bill extends temporary federal unemployment benefits by $300 a week through August 29, 2021.

With the very new passing of this bill, we are seeking clarification from experts who can help us navigate these benefits and provide you with accurate information. As we have more details we will pass along that knowledge.

Stacy Jensen No Comments

Unemployment Claim Fraud in Colorado

Actual current employees who have NOT filed unemployment claims with the state of Colorado have been hit with fraudulent UI (unemployment insurance) claims with an unprecedented level in recent months.

The state of Colorado has adviced the following steps:

If you receive a Reliacard debit card or other paperwork from CDLE and have not filed a claim, report it to us via the form below and follow the five steps. Use this same form if you have received any paperwork to your mailing address that was sent to someone else other than those in your household.

Protect Yourself Against Fraud and Identity theft 
Never give out personally identifiable information over the phone. We will never contact you and ask for your social security number (SSN), bank account numbers, your PIN, account passwords, or any other personally identifiable information.Submit A Fraud Report

You Received Unemployment Paperwork
or a Debit Card Without a Claim

If you received unemployment paperwork but did not file a claim, or otherwise believe you are a victim of identity theft related to unemployment benefits, please click here to submit a fraud report. Additionally, there are several recommended steps to follow:

  • If you received a U.S. Bank Reliacard for Colorado unemployment benefits but did not file a claim, fill out the U.S Bank Form or contact U.S. Bank immediately at 1-855-282-6161. Tell them that a fraudulent unemployment claim was filed using your information, and ask them to deactivate the card.
     
  • Contact the three consumer credit bureaus and put a fraud and identity theft alert on your name and Social Security number (SSN). It may be an automated system, so you may not talk to a live person and you will have to enter your SSN and date of birth.

    Credit Bureau Contact Info:
    Equifax: 1-800-525-6285
    Experian: 1-888-397-3742
    TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289

Please also email your InTANDEM HR Account Manager to alert them to the fraudulent claim. We report any phony UI claims we receive to the state.

Monica Denler No Comments

EEO Guidance on Vaccine Refusal

The EEOC has recently issued updated guidance addressing COVID-19 vaccinations in the workplace. Many employers are asking, can we require our employees get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The EEO has responded – employers can adopt mandatory vaccination policies that require employees to get vaccinated as a condition of entering the workplace. However, the EEO mandates that employers also must attempt to accommodate employees who, due to disabilities or sincerely-held religious beliefs, decline or refuse to receive the vaccine.

If an employee refuses due to disability concerns, employer must first conduct an “individualized assessment” to determine whether having that employee unvaccinated in the workplace would pose a “direct threat” to health and safety within the meaning of the ADA. If the employer decides that the unvaccinated employee would pose a “direct threat,” the employer must next determine whether it can provide a reasonable accommodation to reduce this risk so that the employee no longer poses a “direct threat.” For example, the employer may want to consider whether enforcing infection control policies, such as mask-wearing and social distancing, would acceptably reduce any threat.

If the employer determines that there is no way to provide a reasonable accommodation that would prevent the employee from posing a “direct threat,” they can exclude the employee from entering the workplace. This is not an allowance to automatically terminate employment, however, and counsel should be sought.

If an employee objects to a vaccine on the basis of religious grounds, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation for the religious belief, unless it would pose an “undue hardship” to the employer.

Vaccines are nothing new, though the COVID-19 vaccine most certainly is. As such, seek legal counsel to develop a vaccination policy should you so choose, and reach out to us prior to making an employment decision based on vaccination refusal.

View the EEOC’s guidance here:

https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

Monica Denler No Comments

NEW Mandatory postings for Colorado Employers

The state of Colorado has updated their labor law posting with relation to compensation. The new COMPS order #37 should be displayed on top of the prior COMPS order #36 wherever your other labor law postings live:

https://cdle.colorado.gov/sites/cdle/files/COMPS%20Order%20%2337%20%282021%29%20Poster%20CLEAN.pdf

The state of Colorado also requires a posting for 1/1/2021 of the mandatory “Colorado Workplace Public Health Rights Poster: Effective January 1, 2021 PAID LEAVE, WHISTLEBLOWING, & PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT”. This should also be included with your other labor law postings:

https://cdle.colorado.gov/sites/cdle/files/Poster%2C%20Paid%20Leave%20%26%20Whistleblower%20-%202021%20poster.pdf

NOTE – we will post these to the ESS in the form of a document that satisfies the distribution/posting requirement to your employees. We will also include it on the electronic onboarding portal so that all of your new hires going forward acknowledge receipt of the documents. You may additionally email blast this to your employees if you so choose.

If you have any questions regarding these postings please let us know. Thank you for partnering with us to ensure your HR compliance.

Monica Denler No Comments

Multiple Colorado Employer Law changes

We’re reaching out with an update and reminder on some updates to Colorado employment law that do or will affect you and that are significantly different from existing law:

1. Firstly, and newly, proposition 118, which allows for 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax paid by employers and employees has been approved. An additional four weeks of leave are allowed for pregnancy or childbirth complications. The first premiums will be paid beginning on January 1, 2023, and benefits will begin to be available on January 1, 2024. Under Proposition 118, employers cannot take disciplinary or retaliatory actions against employees for requesting or using paid leave. During the next two years, prior to the beginning of the premium payments, we will update you on this mandate which affects employers with 10 or more employees. We will need to hear more from the CO DOL prior to changing any policies or reaching out to employees regarding their rights or any applicable waiting periods.

2. A reminder – Colorado employers can no longer ask prospective employees about their criminal history. The state’s “ban the box” legislation, went into effect September of 2019 for employers with 11 or more workers. Come September 2021, it will apply to all businesses in Colorado. This law prohibits a checkbox on employment applications that ask applicants to reveal whether they have been convicted of a felony. Dubbed the “Colorado Chance to Compete Act,” the bill also bans employers from stating in job postings that people with a criminal history can’t apply. As of Sept. 1, the law applies to companies with 11 or more workers.

3. Equal pay for Equal Work Act:

Starting January 1, 2021, Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (SB 19-085) will prohibit all employers from discriminating because of sex (including gender identity) — alone or with another protected status — by paying less for substantially similar work in terms of skill, effort and responsibility. Every employer with any employees in the state will have to comply with the law.

Highlights of the Act
The law aims to increase pay equity and transparency, imposes new notice and recordkeeping requirements, and encourages companies to regularly self-audit their compensation practices. Employees are protected against sex-based pay discrimination for work requiring similar skill, effort and responsibility. The law permits pay differences arising from:

A seniority system
A merit system
A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production
The geographic location where the work is performed
Education, training, or experience reasonably related to the work
Travel that is a regular and necessary condition of the job

Employers can’t prevent employees from discussing their own compensation information with other employees or require employees to sign a waiver preventing them from discussing their compensation.

The law also prohibits employers from asking about job candidates’ wage history or relying on wage history to determine a wage rate. Employers can’t discriminate or retaliate against a prospective employee for failing to disclose wage history.

Job-Posting Notices and Recordkeeping:

New notice requirements will help current and prospective employees learn about job opportunities:
Employers will have to make reasonable efforts to “announce, post, or make known all opportunities for promotion” to all current employees on the same calendar day.
Each job-vacancy posting will have to disclose the hourly wage or salary, or the hourly wage or salary range, along with a general description of all benefits and other compensation offered.
Employees can report posting violations to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment within one year of learning of the violation.
Employers must keep records of job descriptions and wage history for each employee while employed and for two years after termination.

4. COMPS 36 will now reach almost all private employers in Colorado. Minimum guaranteed salary for exempt persons as of 1/1/2021 will be $40,500. You must either increase salary or change to non-exempt for applicable employees who are earning less than this amount.

The COMPS order also mandates that if a non-exempt employee is not authorized and permitted to take a 10-minute rest period as required under the Order, his or her employer must pay an additional 10 minutes of wages for each missed rest period. Two 5 minute breaks are permissible in lieu of the 10 minute breaks if they are actual breaks. This rule doesn’t apply to exempt employees.

5. Healthy Family and Workplaces Act:

All employers in Colorado with 16 or more employees, effective 1/1/2021, must offer paid sick leave pursuant to the following provisions:

All employees are eligible for sick leave. Employees who work less than part time including temporary or seasonal employees accrue .033 hours of sick leave for every hour worked.

Employees are allowed to use accrued sick leave when:

The employee or employee’s family member:

Has a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition that prevents the employee from working
Seeks a doctor’s care or diagnosis
Needs to obtain preventative medical care
Seeks medical attention, victim services, mental health services, or legal services as a result of domestic abuse, sexual harassment, or harassment.
If a public official has ordered school or business closures due to a public health emergency

Documentation may be required if leave is four or more consecutive work days. Sick requests may be made in whatever manner is reasonable for the employee.
Employees may use sick leave in hourly increments.

A copy of the act in its entirety follows:

https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/2020a_205_signed.pdf

If you have 16 or more employees, we emailed you about this the end of August with the updated version of your handbook to comply with the new law, and are updating our system to flip the switch on 1/1/2021 to ensure your PTO tables are also in compliance. If we did not reach out to you it is because you had less than 16 employees in 2020, but you will be subject to the act as of 1/1/2022 (when it applies to all Colorado employers). You will hear from us near August of 2021 if you are an employer with less than 16 employees regarding the updates.

We realize these are a lot of significant changes. We are here to support and educate, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions. We are thinking of you and hope you are staying safe and healthy.

Monica Denler No Comments

IRS announces 2021 FSA Max

The IRS will not be increasing the maximum amount that can be contributed to a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) in 2021. The $2,750 max in 2020 will remain $2,750 in 2021. InTANDEM HR observes a “run off” period to enable participants to use remaining funds for two and a half-months following the end of the plan year. Look to use up your funds soon to avoid losing any available money!