Twenty-One States to Boost Minimum Wage in January

The minimum wage is set to increase in twenty-one states in 2015. Beginning in January, twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia will have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum of $7.25. Washington state’s new minimum wage of $9.47 per hour will be the highest in the nation.

In Washington and eight other states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, and Oregon), the minimum wage is rising due to annual adjustments required by state law. In four states (Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota), voters approved ballot measures in 2014 to increase the minimum wage. In seven other states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia), legislators approved wage increases. Additionally, legislators in New York approved a wage increase that will go into effect on December 31, 2014. Delaware and Minnesota are slated to increase their respective minimum wages in mid-2015.

For more information on how using the latest workforce management solutions can help control rising payroll costs, contact MITC today.

Department of Justice Issues New Guidelines

On December 15th 2014, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights issued new guidelines regarding the Olmstead Act:

  1. A public entity could violate Olmstead if it fails to provide community services, or reduces those services, in a way likely to cause a decline in the health, safety, or welfare leading to an individual’s eventual placement in an institution
  2. Implementation of across-the-board caps on hours risks violating the ADA if the caps do not account for the needs of individuals with disabilities
  3. States should implement process that reliably and expeditiously enable individuals with disabilities to obtain cap exemptions

Read the entire document here.

Judge Stamps Out Overtime Rights For Home Care Workers

In a striking decision on Monday regarding the new rules for overtime for home care workers, federal district judge Richard Leon proclaimed the law was clear that the exemption applied to any employee providing companionship (read here). Ruling in favor of several business groups that sued the DOL, Judge Leon vacated the portion of the rules requiring third-party home care companies to pay minimum wage and overtime to workers employed mainly for “fellowship and protection.” In his decision partially blocking the rules, Judge Leon noted the plaintiffs’ warning that the DOL approach “will have a destabilizing impact on the entire home care industry and will adversely affect access to home care services for millions of the elderly and infirm.”

Due to this decision, in-home caregivers in some states have been exempt from overtime and minimum wage requirements under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. In 2011, the White House and labor officials announced new rules to eliminate the exemption for third-party employers and extend wage protections to two million in-home care workers. Those changes were adopted in October 2013 and were set to take effect in January. The department announced in October it would delay enforcing the new regulations until June 2015.

The Labor Department is reviewing the decision and has 60 days to appeal. As a large portion of the two million in-home care workers affected often also provide care services, it is not clear how many of the two million home care workers will be affected by the companionship and protection clauses of the original regulation.