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Brexit: a change of direction on protection of UK worker rights?

August 22, 2019

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The recent appointment of a new UK Prime Minister signals a new approach to Brexit negotiations with the EU. There are suggestions that the new administration has different views on the approach to the protection of employment rights post-Brexit.

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What Employers Need to Know about New York State’s New Discrimination and Harassment Laws: Part 2

On June 19, 2019, the New York Legislature voted to reform New York discrimination law. See NYS Assembly Bill No. A8421.  Although Governor Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill, as of August 7, 2019, it still has not been delivered to him.

This post will focus on changes regarding mandatory arbitration and non-disclosure clauses, the Faragher-Ellerth defense and damages awards.  Below is a summary of some of the provisions in the bill including those covered by our prior post on the expansion of the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”), and the effective date of each provision.

When Employee’s Trip to the Beach May NOT Support A Suspicion of FMLA Fraud

Employers are not obligated to tolerate employee misuse of FMLA leave.  Examples abound in which an employer learns – often through an employee’s social media posts or through information from an employee’s co-workers – that an employee on intermittent FMLA leave has been having a good time while absent from work, such as taking a trip to the beach (or Las Vegas, Cancun, ….), playing golf, going fishing, etc.  In those situations, when an employer takes action to discipline or terminate the employee after conducting a reasonable investigation and reaching an honest belief of FMLA fraud, the employer will often successfully defeat a resulting FMLA retaliation claim (and, often an FMLA interference claim as well).

The case of Meyer v. Town of Wake Forest, No. 5:16-CV-348-FL, 2018 WL 4689447 (E.D. N.C. Sept. 28, 2018), however, provides an example of when an employee going to the beach during FMLA leave may not provide good grounds for an “honest belief” of FMLA fraud.  In Meyer, the employee was approved for intermittent FMLA leave both to care for his wife who was recovering from childbirth and to bond with his newborn son.  A co-worker reported to the employer that, while on approved FMLA leave, the employee had been to the beach with his family, and that he also planned to go with them to the state fair.  Based on the employee’s subsequent admission that he had engaged in these activities and that he had recorded his time as sick time under the employer’s

Client alert: the French Supreme Court validates the “Macron Grid” which caps damages awarded to employees in cases of unfair dismissal

In two opinions dated July 17, 2019, the French Supreme Court confirmed that the so-called “Macron Grid” implemented by the French employment law reforms in September 2017 is compatible with Article 10 of Convention no. 158 of the International Labor Organization (“ILO”).

Following diverging opinions and judgments from local French labor courts (e.g., Montpellier, Troyes, Lyon) on the validity of the Macron Grid, the French Supreme Court has received a request for its opinion from the Louviers and Toulouse labor courts to determine whether such Macron Grid is compatible with international laws.

The Macron Grid (codified under Article L. 1235-3 of the French Labor Code) establishes a scale that applies to the determination by French judges of the compensation granted for unfair dismissal. It sets a minimum and a maximum amount based on the employee’s seniority and average gross salary: the minimum amount is one month’s salary for one year of service (0.5 months for companies with less than 11 employees); the maximum is twenty months’ salary for employees who have at least 29 years of service. Note that this grid does not apply if employees claim that their dismissal results from discrimination or harassment and they hence request that their dismissal be declared null and void.

Certain labor courts have considered that the Macron Grid violates Article 10 of Convention no. 158 of the International Labor Organization (“ILO”) which provides that if judges rule that termination is unjustified, “they shall be empowered to order payment of adequate compensation or such

Who is responsible for providing National Minimum Wage pay information in the context of a TUPE transfer?

July 19, 2019

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Employers are required, under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 (“Act”), to maintain pay records and, if requested to do so, to produce such information to their workers.  A failure by an employer to comply with its obligation to produce pay information within 14 days of a request can result in an Employment Tribunal making a declaration and award against the employer of up to 80 times the national minimum wage rate.

The Act expressly provides that in the event of a cessation of employment, the employee should seek such information from their former employer in respect of pay during that period of employment.

In a recent decision, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) clarified that because an employee’s employment automatically transfers and does not terminate in the context of a TUPE transfer, where an employee TUPE transfers to a new employer (the transferee), it is that employer which has the obligation to provide pay records, not the employee’s former employer (the transferor).

This decision highlights the need (particularly in the context of an outsourcing) for contractual obligations on a transferor to provide the transferee with all necessary information in relation to the transferring employees.

Colorado Employers Face New Employment Laws

With Colorado’s return to one-party control, Colorado employers face a spate of new employment laws. Employers in Colorado should review their practices, policies, and procedures to ensure that they are in compliance with these new laws.

Colorado Chance to Compete Act—“Ban the Box” Legislation: Under the new law, an employer may not state in an advertisement or application that a person with a criminal history may not apply to the position. The employer also may not inquire about or require the disclosure of an applicant’s criminal history in an initial application. The law takes effect on September 1, 2019, for employers with 11 or more employees, and September 1, 2021 for employers with fewer than 11 employees.

Equal Pay for Equal Work Act: The law prohibits an employer from discriminating between employees on the basis of sex by paying an employee of one sex a wage rate less than the rate paid to an employee of a different sex for substantially similar work, regardless of job title. The law also prohibits an employer from seeking or relying on a prospective employee’s wage rate history to determine a wage rate. Finally, employers may not prohibit employees from discussing their wage rates. The law takes effect January 1, 2021.

Criminal Penalties for Wage Violations:  Employers who willfully refuse to pay a wage claim or falsely deny the validity of a wage claim over $2,000 may be liable for felony theft. The penalty for theft ranges from $50 to $1,000,000 depending upon the

EEOC Publishes Much Anticipated EEO-1 Component 2 Guidance in Advance of Employers’ September 30th Filing Deadline

On July 1, 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) published its much anticipated guidance on the collection and submission of Component 2 data of the EEO-1 report.  As a reminder, covered employers are required to submit Component 2 data (which covers certain pay data and hours worked data) for report years 2017 and 2018 by September 30, 2019.  The EEOC intends to use Component 2 data to identify potentially unlawful pay disparities based on race/ethnicity and sex.

The guidance, which is published on the EEOC’s web-based portal, includes a variety of information, including a sample EEO-1 Component 2 report form, a Fact Sheet, and a Frequently Asked Questions section (“FAQ”).

Much of the new guidance aligns with that which the EEOC published in 2016, before the White House’s Office and Management and Budget stayed the collection of Component 2 data in August 2017.  Below are a few important highlights from the new guidance:

  • Workforce Snapshot Period
    • Employers need only submit Component 2 data for employees employed during the “workforce snapshot period” for each of the relevant reporting years.
    • The “workforce snapshot period” is an employer-selected pay period between October 1 and December 31 of the reporting year.
    • The “workforce snapshot period” does not need to be the same for 2017 and 2018, nor does it need to align with the pay period used for submitting Component 1 data.
  • Pay Data
    • Employers will submit Component 2’s pay data by

Off-Payroll Working Rules

From April 2020 the responsibility for determining whether engagements with individuals who provide their services through an intermediary (typically a “PSC”) are within the off-payroll working rules shifts to the client for engagements in the Private Sector, with the burden of  operating PAYE and collecting National Insurance Contributions (“NICs”) falling on the relevant “fee payer” in the work supply chain.

Although it is encouraging that HMRC have reconfirmed that it does not intend to carry out targeted campaigns into previous years when individuals start paying employment taxes following the reforms, we expect that HMRC will take a robust approach to the enforcement of the new rules.

There is an enormous amount of work to be done across the private sector to ensure that medium/large businesses who are dependent on a flexible workforce are ready in time for the changes in April 2020.

Status determination and communications

When clients have determined an individual’s status for the off-payroll working rules, the client will be required to pass the determination to the party they directly contract with, as well as the individual worker.  Significantly, clients will also need to provide reasons for the determination.

It is hoped this will be an incentive to clients to take care in making determinations – reducing the risk of “blanket” assessments and limiting status disputes.

Businesses must therefore adopt internal policies to make proper status determinations for engagements and communicate these to individuals and their contract counterparties effectively.

HMRC promise plenty of guidance, targeted communications as well

The CCPA: Employee Data Requirements May Be Delayed, But Do Not Appear to be Going Away

July 12, 2019

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Action is currently underway to amend the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) to provide employers an additional year to comply with the CCPA with respect to employee data of California-based employees.

The California Senate Judiciary Committee has passed AB-25, an amendment to the CCPA that would delay most of the compliance obligations for employee data until January 1, 2021. Specifically, the amendment provides that employees are not “consumers” for most purposes of the statute until January 1, 2021.

If the legislature passes the bill, the CCPA will still apply to employers with California-based employees in the following ways, effective January 1, 2020:

  • Employees will be able to sue employers for a data breach involving their unencrypted data
  • Employers must provide a notice to employees describing the categories of employee information collected, used and disclosed by the employer.

While there have been many predictions that the CCPA would be amended to remove employee data from the requirements of the statute altogether, if the California state legislature approves the bill amending the CCPA, the effect will be to simply delay the compliance obligations for employers for a year.

For now the bill is with the Senate Appropriations Committee for hearing and another round of voting.  Assuming Appropriations votes to pass the bill, it will go to the Floor for a vote.  The Appropriations Committee has until August 30th to vote on bills.

BCLP offers a complete compliance program for employers that includes a formal gap assessment and tailored policies, procedures, and protocols

What Employers Need to Know about New York State’s New Discrimination and Harassment Laws

In 2018, in response to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, New York State enacted laws to provide stronger protections against workplace sexual harassment, including mandating that New York employers have a complaint and investigation process and a sexual harassment policy, and provide their employees with training.

On June 19, 2019, the New York Legislature voted to further reform New York law and to extend protections under the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) to employees of all protected categories from all forms of discriminatory harassment in the workplace.  See NYS Assembly Bill No. A8421.  The bill is expected to be signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who supported the measure.

Once enacted, some provisions will take immediate effect while others will be phased in over the course of one year.  Here is the timeline for some of the provisions:

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