Commit to a Healthy Organization for 2023; Conduct an HR Check-Up

It’s the start of a new year when many of us commit to personal goals and healthy resolutions. For employers, the new year presents a valuable opportunity to conduct an HR check-up, evaluating and updating HR policies and practices to ensure legal compliance while attracting and retaining a diverse, engaged, and talented workforce. Consider the following questions as you assess the HR health of your organization:

  • When did you last update your employee handbook? Many federal and state employment laws and regulations have evolved in recent years, and your handbook policies may need updating to ensure compliance with current laws.
  • Do you have partial or fully remote employees? Have you implemented policies and procedures addressing remote work? Remote work policies should address such issues as schedule expectations, data security and confidentiality, reimbursement for home office expenses, and tracking and recording work time. Employers should also consider specific practices to ensure remote workers feel included, engaged, and connected to on-site activities and colleagues.
  • Do you have remote employees working in other states? Employers should review the applicable employment laws in any city and state where employees are living and performing work for the organization. Standard HR policies and practices may need to be customized and/or supplemented to reflect legal requirements in those local areas.
  • Are you taking deliberate steps to retain your key employees and rising stars? As a new year begins, employees may be considering their career goals and future opportunities within the organization. Providing practical and engaging opportunities for professional growth and development can help your organization retain and maximize its talented workforce.
  • What steps are you taking to ensure that all applicants and employees are attracted to, welcomed within, and included in your workplace? Consider conducting an equity audit of your job postings, position descriptions, and general HR policies and procedures with the goal of removing unnecessary barriers to employment and advancement. Create a workplace culture that invites, values, and encourages employees of all backgrounds and experiences to perform their best and contribute to your team’s success.

These are just a few questions to consider as you assess your organization’s HR health moving into 2023. Contact your partners at Lake Effect HR & Law to help evaluate all of your HR policies and practices and ensure that you stay in good shape for the coming year.

Lake Effect is here to answer your questions about federal and state employment laws and HR best practices. We continue to monitor important legal and HR developments that affect employers. Please watch our blogs and emails for these important updates, as well as discussions of how compliance meets culture. To dive into these issues, contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Benefits Limits for 2023

Each year, the IRS sets new limits for employee benefits plans and retirement plans. Please see below for Lake Effect’s ready reference chart setting forth the Benefits Limits for the 2023 tax year. A PDF of this information is available on the here.

 

2022 2023
Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)
Healthcare FSA max election (per year) (incl. LTD FSA) $2,850 $3,050
Healthcare FSA max rollover $570 $610
Dependent Care FSA max election (per year) (Single or Married Filing Jointly) $5,000 $5,000*
Dependent Care FSA max election (per year) (Married Filing Separately) $2,500 $2,500*
Transportation Benefits
Parking Account $280/mo $300/mo
Transit Account $280/mo $300/mo
High Deductible Health Plan Requirements to Contribute to an HSA
HDHP min annual deductible - Self-only $1,400 $1,500
HDHP min annual deductible - Family $2,800 $3,000
HDHP out-of-pocket max - Self-only $7,050 $7,500
HDHP out-of-pocket max - Family $14,100 $15,000
HSA max contribution limit - Self-only $3,650 $3,850
HSA max contribution limit - Family $7,300 $7,750
HSA catch up contribution limit (age 55+) $1,000 $1,000
ACA Plan Limits
Maximum Out-of-Pocket (Self-only or Individual in a Family) $8,700 $9,100
Maximum Out-of-Pocket (Family) $17,400 $18,200
QSEHRA (Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement) – Max Employer contribution 
To Individual $5,450 $5,850
To Family $11,050 $11,800
Salary Thresholds for Non-discrimination Testing
Highly compensated employees $135,000 $150,000
Key employees $200,000 $215,000
Retirement Plans (401(k), 403(b))
Max employee elective contributions for those 49 and younger $20,500 $22,500
Max employer + employee contributions for those 49 and younger $61,000 $66,000
Max employee catch-up contributions for those 50+ $6,500 $7,500
Max employee elective contribution plus catch-up for those 50+ $27,000 $30,000
Max employer + employee contributions for those 50+ $67,500 $73,500

 

 


EEOC Issues Updated “Know Your Rights” Poster

On October 19, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued an updated "Know Your Rights: Workplace Discrimination Is Illegal" poster. The poster replaces the prior “EEO is the Law” poster. It summarizes federal employment laws and explains steps individuals can take if they believe they have experienced any form of prohibited discrimination. Employers must physically and/or virtually display the poster in a conspicuous location where notices to applicants and employees are usually posted. Organizations are well-advised to work with a reputable employment poster service to ensure compliance with all federal and state notice posting requirements. Your partners at Lake Effect HR & Law LLC can provide further guidance or answer specific questions.
Lake Effect is here to answer your questions about federal and state employment laws and posting requirements. We continue to monitor important legal and HR developments that affect employers. Please watch our blogs and emails for these important updates, as well as discussions of how compliance meets culture. To dive into these issues, contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Employers Face New Challenges Under Colorado’s Revised Non-Compete Law

Effective August 10, 2022, employers who aim to protect business interests by requiring employees in Colorado to sign non-compete and customer non-solicit agreements will face new challenges under amendments to Colorado's restrictive covenant law. Key provisions include the following:

  • Post-employment non-compete agreements, including customer non-solicitation agreements, are presumed void unless all of the following are established:
    • For a non-compete agreement, the employee is “highly compensated” at the time of signing and termination, with annual earnings at or above the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s highly compensated worker threshold (currently $101,250 per year, to be increased each year);
    • For a customer non-solicit agreement, the employee earns at least 60% of the highly compensated worker threshold (currently $60,750 per year, to increase each year);
    • The agreement is for the purpose of protecting trade secrets; and
    • The agreement is no broader than reasonably necessary to protect the employer’s interest in protecting its trade secrets.
  • Employers must provide a separate written notice of the terms of a non-compete and/or customer non-solicitation agreement:
    • For a prospective employee, the notice must be given before the individual accepts a job offer.
    • For current employees, notice must be given at least 14 days prior to the effective date of the agreement or the effective date of additional compensation or other change in conditions of employment that provides consideration for the agreement, whichever is earlier.
    • Notices must be signed by prospective and current employees.
  • Non-compete and/or customer non-solicitation agreement with employees who primarily work or live in Colorado at the time of termination will be governed by Colorado law, and employers may not require employees to adjudicate them outside of Colorado.
  • The amendments apply to agreements entered into on or after August 10, 2022, but they do not apply retroactively to agreements signed before that date.
  • Violations of the amended law can result in penalties up to $5,000 per employee or prospective employee. The amendments also provide a private right of action to individuals, who may recover actual damages, declaratory/injunctive relief, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
  • The amendments do not affect employee non-solicitation agreements, restrictive covenants related to the sale of a business, agreements for the recovery of training and educational expenses, and “reasonable” confidentiality agreements, as defined by the statute.

If your organization has or plans to hire employees in Colorado, please reach out to your partners at Lake Effect to ensure you comply with the amended non-compete and customer non-solicitation agreement requirements.

Lake Effect is here to answer your questions about restrictive covenants and applicable state laws. We continue to monitor important legal and HR pments that affect employers. Please watch our blogs and emails for these important updates, as well as discussions of how compliance meets culture. To dive into these issues, contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

COVID-19’S Continuing Workplace Impact: EEOC Revises Pandemic Guidance Again

On July 12, 2022, the EEOC issued updated COVID-19 guidance for employers, reflecting the ever-changing but persistent impact of the virus on the workplace. Key updates include the following:

  • Workplace COVID-19 testing
    • Previously, employers could require COVID-19 testing (although it is a medical exam under the ADA) because the EEOC recognized that a person with the virus would pose a direct threat to the health of others.
    • Under the revised guidance, employers may only mandate COVID-19 testing if they show that the testing is “job-related and consistent with business necessity.” (A.6.)
    • Mandatory COVID-19 testing will meet the “business necessity” standard when it is consistent with current guidance from the CDC, FDA, and state and local public health authorities. Employers may also consider such factors as:
      • Community transmission rates
      • Vaccination status of employees
      • Possibility of breakthrough infections for fully vaccinated employees
      • Transmissibility of and severity of illness from current variants
      • Potential impact on the workplace if an employee enters with COVID-19 (A.6.)
    • Antibody testing does not meet the ADA’s “business necessity” standard for a medical exam; employers therefore may not require such testing before allowing employees to re-enter the workplace. As the EEOC notes, an antibody test does not show whether an employee has a current infection, nor establish that an employee is immune to infection. (A.7.)
  • Hiring and job offers
    • If an employer screens everyone for COVID-19 before allowing entry to the worksite, it can screen an applicant in the pre-offer stage who needs to be in the workplace. (C.1.)
    • An employer can also screen applicants for COVID-19 symptoms after making a conditional job offer, as long as it does so for all applicants in the same job type. (C.1.)
    • After an applicant has been offered a job, an employer may only withdraw that offer based upon the applicant’s positive COVID-19 test, symptoms, or exposure if: (1) the job requires an immediate start date, (2) CDC guidance recommends the person not be in proximity to others, and (3) the job requires such proximity to others, whether at the workplace or elsewhere. (C.4.)
  • Interactive process/ accommodation requests
    • Delays in engaging in the interactive process and/or responding to employee accommodation requests are no longer acceptable unless an employer shows specific pandemic-related circumstances justified the delay. (D.17.)
  • Vaccinations
    • Consistent with prior guidance, employers may require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, subject to Title VII and the ADA’s reasonable accommodation requirements. Employers may also require proof of such vaccination. (K.1.)
    • An employee’s vaccination status must be kept confidential and separated from the regular personnel file. However, an employer may share the vaccination information with other employees who need it to perform their job duties. Such employees also must keep the information confidential. (K.4.)

This is not a comprehensive list of the many issues covered in the updated COVID-19 guidance. Please reach out to your partners at Lake Effect HR & Law to ensure that your organization’s COVID-19 policies and practices are in full compliance with current EEOC guidelines. We are here to answer all of your questions about COVID-19 compliance and will continue to monitor important legal and HR developments in this area. Please watch our blogs and emails for these important updates, as well as discussions of how compliance meets culture. To dive into these issues, contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Employers Take Note: Updates on Required Federal Forms and Reports

Form 1-9
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have extended the flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9 until October 31, 2022. See our earlier blog for more information on how to obtain, remotely inspect, and retain copies of the identity and employment eligibility documents to complete Section 2 of Form I-9.

EEO-1 Component Data Report
On April 12, 2022, the EEOC announced that data collection for 2021 EEO-1 Component 1 filing is now open. Private employers with 100 or more employees must file and certify their EEO-1 Component data report(s) by May 17, 2022.

Employers can visit the EEOC’s dedicated website to access the EEO-1 Component Online Filing System and obtain other resource materials. The EEOC has also created a new Filer Support Team Message Center to answer questions and assist employers.

We continue to monitor important legal and HR developments, as well as COVID-related updates from federal, state, and local authorities. Please keep watching our blogs and emails for these important updates, as well as discussions of how compliance meets culture. To dive into these issues, contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Spring Cleaning: Is Your Handbook House in Order?

The time has arrived when thoughts turn to warmer weather and spring-cleaning projects. It is a good time for employers to review their employee handbooks to insure they comply with applicable laws and reflect best practices and emerging trends. This spring, a review may be particularly important, as many employers face two key challenges: 1) welcoming current employees back to the post-pandemic workplace; and 2) recruiting and retaining talented employees amidst a persistent labor shortage.

As you assess the experience of current employees in your post-pandemic workplace, consider reviewing handbook policies that address:

  • Telecommuting/hybrid/remote work
  • Unique leave requirements under applicable state laws
  • Time reporting procedures for remote or hybrid non-exempt employees
  • Anti-harassment/respectful workplace requirements
  • Reasonable accommodation policy as it may apply to COVID-19 situations
  • Flexible scheduling options for employees who may continue to experience pandemic-related challenges

If you are struggling to hire and keep qualified and committed employees, examine whether your handbook policies reflect your inclusive and engaging work experience. Consider policies that highlight:

  • Your organization's distinctive mission, vision, values, voice, and culture
  • Your wide array of benefits and perks
  • Opportunities for professional development and advancement
  • Tuition assistance for lifelong learners
  • Wellness/mindfulness benefits
  • Volunteer or civic engagement opportunities
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Summer schedules and/or other unique flexible scheduling arrangements
  • Time off policies that encourage positive work/life balance

Your employee handbook should be a dynamic tool to ensure legal compliance, communicate expectations and benefits, and enhance relationships with all employees. Take some time this spring to give it a fresh look and ensure that it accomplishes these goals. The Lake Effect team is here to help.

Lake Effect is here to answer your questions about handbooks and innovative employment policies. We continue to monitor important legal and HR developments, as well as COVID-related updates from federal, state, and local authorities. Please keep watching our blogs and emails for these important updates, as well as discussions of how compliance meets culture. To dive into these issues, contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Biden Administration Bans Arbitration of Workplace Sexual Harassment Claims

On March 4, 2022, President Biden signed ithe “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act,” a new law banning mandatory arbitration for workplace sexual assault and sexual harassment claims. Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution outside of the court system. Many employment contracts broadly require employees to resolve claims against employers in arbitration.

This legislation makes language in existing and future employment contracts related to compulsory arbitration of sexual harassment and sexual assault claims unenforceable, at the option of the person bringing the claim. The law does not impact arbitration of other types of employment disputes, and applies to claims and disputes going forward, not past or pending claims. A person bringing a workplace sexual harassment or assault claim may still choose to resolve the claim through arbitration, or they may elect an alternative forum such as mediation, administrative agency proceedings, and/or state or federal court.

In light of this new law, employers should consider the following steps:

  • Review Employment agreements
    Employers should review employment agreements for language about mandatory arbitration. We can assist in this review.
  • Evaluate voluntary mediation services
    Nothing in the new legislature prohibits an employee from resolving disputes outside of court voluntarily. If disputes arise in the workplace, mediation is often a good option for all parties. Mediation is voluntary, confidential, and self-determined, meaning the parties come up with solutions to resolve the dispute. If you would like to learn more about Lake Effect’s mediation services, please contact us.
  • Reiterate your commitment to creating a harassment-free environment 
    Kindness is part of our mission and core values at Lake Effect. Our passion is helping employers cultivate kind environments, where workplace harassment has no place. Contact us to assist with leadership training, employee training, workshops, coaching, and other options that may fit your needs.

Lake Effect is here to answer your questions about compliant employment agreements and workplace dispute resolution. We continue to monitor important legal and HR developments, as well as COVID-related updates from federal, state, and local authorities. Please watch our blogs and emails for these important updates, as well as discussions of how compliance meets culture. To dive into these issues, contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC
(844) 333-5253 (LAKE)
info@le-hrlaw.com

LakeEffectWhite-footer2

© 2023 Lake Effect HR & Law, LLC