2016 Review: The Year’s Highlights for Employees & Employers

By Katherine Muniz
December 30, 2016

2016 was a turbulent year for business owners and employees alike. Here are the highlights of 2016:

March 31st

New York passes the nation’s strongest paid family leave program through an amendment to the existing Disability Benefits Law. Beginning January 1, 2018, employees who have worked for a covered employer for 26 or more consecutive weeks will be eligible for paid family leave benefits. When fully phased-in, employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid leave.

March 31st

Both California and New York make history by signing into law plans to increase the state’s hourly minimum wage to $15 over the next several years. In California, the minimum wage will increase from the current $10 to $15 through gradual annual increases until 2022. New York City will follow suit and reach $15 by the end of 2018; elsewhere in New York, increases will come more slowly.

May 11th

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues a rule enhancing injury and illness data collection from employers, requiring many to electronically submit information about workplace injuries and illnesses to the government. OSHA has announced it intends to post this data on its public website.

May 18th

President Obama extends overtime pay to millions of salaried workers by increasing the standard salary level needed for Executive, Administrative and Professional workers to be exempt from earning overtime. The salary threshold, which had not been updated since 1976, would roughly double from $23,660 to $47,476, starting Dec. 1st.

Sept. 1st

The Department of Labor (DOL) settles a 10-year long lawsuit filed by employees alleging the DOL owed them unpaid overtime due to status misclassification. The claim was settled for $7 million, with the federal agency agreeing to cover back pay for nonexempt employees who had been misclassified, as well as attorney’s fees and other case costs.

Nov. 23rd

Days before the proposed start date of the new overtime regulations, a federal judge issues a nationwide injunction blocking the rule from taking effect. Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the Eastern District of Texas, sided with claims by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 21 states that the rule is unlawful and overreaching. The injunction holds until the judge issues a ruling.

Dec. 28th

The New York State Department of Labor publishes its final rule increasing the salary threshold administrative and executive employees in New York State must make in order to remain exempt (much like the final rule proposed by the Obama Administration). The first increase takes effective December 31st.

2016 Highlights from the DOL: The Department of Labor recaps the most pressing issues plaguing the workforce today in their Year in Motion: 2016 Video Highlights page. Based on the highlighted issues, 2017 could be a groundbreaking year for employees and businesses.

Regulatory Issues of 2016:

Employee Pay

Guaranteeing employees fair pay was the focus of legislative initiatives nationwide, in the form of minimum wage increases, equal pay laws, and paid sick time laws.

Worker Classification

The Department of Labor was vigilant in enforcing initiatives to identify and combat worker misclassification in 2016, a major contributing factor to the rise of wage and hour lawsuits.

Earlier Tax Filing

In order to combat the number of fraudulent tax returns being filed by individual taxpayers, the IRS has advanced the filing deadline for W-2s in order to more easily track the fraud. Refer to our full list of all state deadlines for filing W-2s in 2017; they may or may not match the federal deadline.

2016 has been a momentous year across the board, whether you look at it as an employee or an employer. Stay tuned for our look-back at FingerCheck’s biggest highlights, coming soon.

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