5 Important Facts Business Owners Need To Know Right Now

In the midst of juggling all that COVID 19 has thrown into the laps of business owners, employers also face a changing landscape of employment regulations as we work through the remainder of 2020. This includes changes that affect employee compensation, time off, and undoubtedly continued modifications to requirements for employers related to COVID 19.

Below are upcoming changes that employers should starting planning for now as we work through the rest of 2020. Businesses with specific questions or concerns related to the topics below or any other employment-related topics, are encouraged to reach out to a professional services firm like EBC Inc. for specific guidance on how to stay compliant in the best way for their business.

1. The tip credit for non-hospitality industry workers and businesses is going away.

The allowable amount was reduced by 50% on June 30th, from $2.90 to $1.45 and will be completely eliminated at the end of 2020. This means if you are a business who is using tips earned by employees to reduce the hourly rate you are paying (looking at you salons and car washes), you will no longer be able to count these tipped earnings toward meeting the minimum wage requirement. Regardless of the tips earned, you will need to ensure you are paying your employees at least the minimum wage rate ($11.80 in 2020, going up to $12.50 in 2021).

2. Starting in 2021 (almost) all NYS employers will be required to provide paid sick time to their employees.

In case you were worried all the fun for businesses would be left behind in 2020, this is a major change coming to NYS employers in 2021. The main points of the required policy provisions are:

  • Employers will be required to provide the following amount of sick time to employees based on employer size and revenue:
  • Balances can be front loaded on January 1st each year, or accrued throughout the year.
  • The requirements listed above apply to employees who work 30 hours or more per week. Employees who work less could be provided a pro-rated amount.
  • Employees do not need to be allowed to use the time until 1/1/2021, but in the case of choosing an accrual model, they need to start accruing 9/30/2020.

There are other details to this law that are important to be aware of and consider when constructing or modifying policies and systems to comply with this change. We highly recommend consulting with a service provider like EBC Inc. to ensure you are staying compliant.

3. Voting Leave Law has changed again as we head into another election year.

Actually, after changing the leave requirement in 2019, NYS has reverted back to the old (and preferred) voting leave law effective this year. It is important for employers to understand their obligations and rights with voting leave as we head into another election year. Here’s a breakdown of what you should know:

  • Employees who do not have sufficient time* outside of their scheduled working hours are eligible for up to two (2) hours of paid time off in order to vote. The employer may designate what time during the shift the leave may be taken (beginning or end).
  • Employees are required to notify their manager of the need for voting leave a minimum of two (2) working days in advance. Employees may also be asked to provide proof of voting registration before the leave is approved.

*Employees will be considered to have sufficient time to vote outside of their scheduled work hours if they have 4 consecutive hours between the polls opening or closing and the beginning of end of their shift.

4. The NYS Shared Work program is an alternative to layoffs as we continue to tough it out through the COVID business impacts.

This allows employees to avoid a full loss of employment while allowing employers to alleviate the full burden of employee salaries through a reduction in employee hours that is then subsidized through NYS unemployment. The program does require an application and approval by NYS. Another benefit to businesses is that Shared Work charges paid to employees by NYS during COVID are also 100% Federally funded, meaning they will not be charged against an employer’s experience rating for unemployment in the future, unlike normal unemployment claims as a result of full layoffs. More information and the application for the Shared Work program can be found here.

5. COVID complications for employers and businesses are not going away.

As businesses bring more employees and customers back through their doors, the burden of sifting through complicated safety, leave, accommodation, compensation, and other COVID rules and factors only continues to grow.

Employers must remember their obligations set forth by NYS to reopen and operate, but also other obligations to employees like providing paid leave for missed work due to quarantining, child care, etc. related to COVID. This is all likely to continue at least through the end of the year.

We encourage any business to reach out to a service provider like EBC Inc. for any circumstances that arise where they are uncertain how to proceed. The lawsuits from a business and employer standpoint are already starting to mount up in NYS and we are certain this trend will continue for those who try to navigate these waters without guidance.

This post was written by Emily Martin, Owner of Ally HR Partners LLC, a Buffalo-based HR consulting firm that helps small businesses identify and implement custom solutions to their people problems and opportunities. Often a business’ #1 expense, Ally HR Partners believes your people should be your #1 asset. Through an integrative partnership approach, Ally becomes your internal expert on all things HR including compliance assurance, performance management, and strategic HR initiatives designed to make the most out of your Human Capital. For more information about how Ally can work for you, visit AllyHRPartners.com

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Step Out Buffalo Business

Step Out Buffalo Business is a business focused publication featuring tips and tricks for entrepreneurs and small business people in Buffalo & Western New York. We write what we know and when we don't know, we ask an expert in the field. We've gained our knowledge through experience growing businesses in various industries.

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