Connecticut News & Analysis

  • As FMLA turns 25, is it time to talk about paid family and medical leave?

    The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed 25 years ago in 1993. A gallon of gas cost $1.16. Bill Clinton assumed the presidency from George H.W. Bush. Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover" was playing nonstop on the radio, and Disney's Aladdin was released on VHS. The Dallas Cowboys won Super Bowl XXVII (with national anthem singer Garth Brooks delaying kickoff, insisting his music video "We Shall Be Free" play at halftime). Terrorists detonated a truck bomb at the World Trade Center. "Don't ask, don't tell" was the policy du jour for our LGBTQIA military servicemembers. For the first time, women were allowed to wear pants on the floor of the U.S. Senate. We've come a long way, baby!

  • How to claim paid family and medical leave tax credit

    The tax reform law passed late last year contained a little-noticed tax credit for employers that provide employees paid "family and medical" leave and meet certain other requirements. While the IRS hasn't finalized regulations pinning down the specifics of the new credit, it recently issued some helpful guidance. Let's take a look.

  • Don't forget to properly classify independent contractors

    You likely recall a time not so long ago when the improper classification of employees as independent contractors was the hot topic for the IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In 2011, the agencies entered into a "Memorandum of Understanding" in which they agreed to share information about potential misclassifications in an effort to crack down on the common practice. The DOL also entered into similar agreements with roughly 30 state departments of labor.

  • DOL issues FMLA opinion letters after a long break

    For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has issued opinion letters interpreting the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This may be a sign that the Trump administration intends to rely heavily on opinion letters as a form of guidance for employers, a practice that had been discarded by the Obama administration.

  • Is arbitration right for your company? Things to consider

    In recent years, there has been a trend among employers to adopt mandatory arbitration agreements. The increased use of mandatory arbitration agreements can be attributed in part to a series of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court that have reaffirmed the validity of arbitration agreements. There are a number of advantages and disadvantages employers should consider before adopting an arbitration program.

  • Why employee engagement must be a priority, not an option

    When it comes to your workplace, do you know how many members of your team are truly engaged? On average, U.S. companies have an engagement level of 32%. Basically, one out of three of your team members is engaged. Studies suggest that disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy between $400 billion and $600 billion a year!

  • Agency Action

    OFCCP releases directives on equal employment and religious freedom. The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in August issued two new policy directives, one focused on equal employment opportunity and the other addressing religious freedom. The equal employment opportunity directive calls for more comprehensive reviews of contractor compliance with federal antidiscrimination laws. The religious freedom directive is aimed at protecting the rights of religion-exercising organizations. The DOL said it is implementing a comprehensive compliance initiative that will include adding focused reviews to its compliance activities. The religious freedom directive instructs OFCCP staff to take into account recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and White House Executive Orders that protect religious freedom.

  • Workplace Trends

    Salary increases expected to remain flat. Research from workforce consulting firm Mercer shows salary increase budgets for U.S. employees are at 2.8% in 2018—no change from 2017. Salary increase budgets for 2019 are projected to be just 2.9%, despite factors like the tightening labor market and a high rate of workers voluntarily quitting their jobs. The information comes from Mercer's "2018/2019 US Compensation Planning Survey." Mercer's research shows that even newly available investment dollars from the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act aren't enhancing the compensation budgets for most companies. Mercer says just 4% of organizations have redirected some of their anticipated tax savings to their salary increase budgets.

  • Refusing to hire medical marijuana users may violate Connecticut law

    In our July issue, we wrote about the potential impacts from Massachusetts' legalization of recreational marijuana we may see in Connecticut. In "'One toke over the line': recreational marijuana and CT employees," we mentioned that the rules governing employees' use of marijuana differ when they're using it legally under Connecticut's medical marijuana law. In early September, a federal judge in Connecticut highlighted those differences when he concluded that a local employer violated Connecticut's medical marijuana law by refusing to hire a job applicant because she uses medical marijuana. (We first told you about the case in "CT's workplace protections for medical marijuana trump federal law," which appeared on pg. 1 of our September 2017 issue.)

  • The end of the Kennedy era

    For the past 20 years, Anthony Kennedy has decided the most important issues in America. An early protégé of Justice Antonin Scalia, Kennedy was appointed by Ronald Reagan as a conservative choice for the U.S. Supreme Court. At first, he voted with the conservative bloc more than 90 percent of the time and remained solidly conservative on criminal justice issues throughout his judicial tenure.