INSIGHTS

Q3 Questions for HR Departments

by Colleen Malmassari

Third quarter is typically a time of planning and/or pivoting for Human Resources. Many law changes occur mid-year and HR departments must stay updated as any changes to employment law can greatly affect businesses. Here are some things to be thinking about as we wrap up the third quarter of the year:

Changes in Protections for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers:

PUMP Act amending the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

  • The FLSA has been amended to provide employees with reasonable break time to express milk for a nursing child up to one year after the child’s birth. There are no limits to the number of breaks nursing mothers get.
  • Action Item: Acquire and hang the updated EEOC poster up in work spaces.
  • Action Item: Ensure that if non-exempt employees perform any duties during the period to express milk, the entire break period is paid.
  • Action Item: Ensure exempt employees’ weekly salary is NOT reduced if they take regular breaks to express milk.

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA)

  • The Act went into effect June 27, 2023. The new law applies to all employers with 15 or more employees and requires that employers provide a reasonable accommodation to pregnant employees and job applicants with temporary physical or mental limitations due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions.
  • The Act incorporates the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) definitions of “reasonable accommodation” and “undue hardship.”
  • Action Item: Acquire and hang the new EEOC poster for PWFA up in work spaces.

Have you incorporated WA State’s Long Term Care Fund in your company’s payroll?

  • Implementation of WA Long Term Care Fund was postponed to July 1, 2023 for Legislative fix, and payroll deductions started on this date.
  • Action Item: Ensure the correct documentation for those opting out is in personnel files, and that those who did not complete the exemption in time are having this deducted from their payroll.  

House Bill (HB) 1106 Unemployment/Expansion of Voluntary Quit for Good Cause:

  • This Bill expands unemployment benefits for voluntary resignations. Beginning September 3, 2023, employees are not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits if quitting was necessary because of the death, illness, or disability of any family member, not just an immediate family member.
  • Claimant must have made reasonable efforts to preserve their employment status by requesting changes in working conditions or their work schedule, or requesting a leave of absence. Claimant must promptly notify the employer of the reason, and (A) promptly request re-employment when able to resume employment, unless pursuing these alternatives would be a futile act; or (B) claimant is not entitled to be reinstated to the same or comparable/similar position.
  • Action item: Create an internal process to document all interactive correspondence related to workplace and/or work schedule accommodation requests.

Don’t ignore off-the-clock work:

  • A nonexempt (overtime-eligible) employee recently won over $81,000 in damages in federal court after prevailing on his claim for unpaid wages for occasionally logging on to the company network/email from the employee’s personal cell phone after the employee left the office for the day.
  • An employer who knows an employee is working overtime cannot allow them to perform work without proper compensation, even if the employee doesn’t report the time. If your supervisor(s) knows that off-the-clock work is occurring or has occurred, then the company is deemed to know and can be held liable for not compensating the employee for those work hours. If you don’t immediately take action to stop off-the-clock work and pay for the time spent on after-hours work activities, your organization risks significant liability under wage and hour laws.
  • Action Item: Ensure your Employee Handbook/Policies clearly outline that employees must report all time worked.
  • Action item: Review company policy on at least an annual basis with employees and require supervisors to enforce the policy.
  • Action item: If an employee violates the policy, you can issue a written warning or other discipline, but you must pay for the time.
Colleen Malmassari

Colleen Malmassari

HR Consulting Services Manager

Colleen graduated from Central Washington University with bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Spanish. She began her career in public accounting, providing assurance and tax services to many agricultural family-run businesses. About six years into her public accounting career, she became involved in recruiting and was instantaneously hooked on honing her skills in the Human Resources field.

For the past decade, she has helped lead HR teams at two different large Agriculture family-run businesses and in 2021, she joined Larson Gross to implement and lead the firm’s HR consulting services practice, helping clients cultivate their businesses and create improved workplaces for their team members.

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Recruiting and Employee Retention
Performance Review Strategy
Policy and Handbook Development
Compliance Consulting
Workplace Behavior & Harassment Prevention Training

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