Weekly Legislative Update April 25, 2022

USDOT Unveils New Strategic Plan
 
Very recently, USDOT has released its new strategic plan. 
 
Please see the link below. We will not describe the plan in detail here as it does not make specific proposals -- but we take this opportunity to let you know that it has been finalized and published, as it suggests the direction of future and more specific USDOT actions, including as to highways:
 
     
 
DOL Announces Additional Listening Sessions on Overtime Regulations
 
The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division previously announced that it is reviewing the regulations that implement the Fair Labor Standard Act’s minimum wage and overtime exemptions for bona fide executive, administrative, and professional employees. 
 
In the last few months, DOL has held multiple listening sessions, including participating in a Small Business Roundtable with the SBA Office of Advocacy.
 
DOL has now announced additional virtual Overtime listening sessions for May and June 2022, for both worker and employer stakeholders. These sessions are organized by region.
 
Dates and times for each listening session is available on DOL.gov. To participate, you can register for an Overtime Listening Session for Workers and Advocates under the How to Participate section.
 
These are public events.
 
If you have questions, please send an email to OTSessionInquiries@dol.gov.
 
In this event notice, the agency seeks stakeholder input on issues such as:
  • The appropriate salary level above which the exemptions for bona fide executive, administrative, or professional employees may apply.
  • The costs and benefits of increasing the salary level to employers and employees, including increasing wages and reducing litigation costs.
  • The best methodology for updating the salary level, and the appropriate frequency of updates.
  • Whether other changes to the overtime regulations are warranted.
 
TIA plans to be involved and submitted comments on any proposed changes to the overtime regulations. 
     
 
Maryland Enacts Law to Require Paid Family and Medical Leave
 
  • The Act establishes a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund (the “Fund”) and instructs the Maryland Secretary of Labor to adopt regulations no later than June 1, 2023. Beginning October 1, 2023, employees, employers, and self-employed individuals must begin making contributions to the Fund. Covered workers can begin receiving benefits on January 1, 2025. This new requirement is in addition to Maryland law requiring paid sick leave.
 
  • Leave for which benefits may be paid under the Act is job protected. The Act requires employers to restore an employee to an equivalent position of employment upon the expiration of the leave. Employers must also maintain an employee’s health insurance coverage.
 
  • The Act provides for partial wage replacement of up to 90% of the employee’s average weekly wages, with a maximum weekly benefit amount of $1,000. Starting January 1, 2026, the maximum weekly benefit will be adjusted annually to reflect the annual percentage growth of the area’s Consumer Price Index.
 
  • Employees who have worked at least 680 hours over the 12-month period immediately preceding the date on which the leave is to begin are “covered individuals” under the Act. Self-employed individuals may also elect to participate in the program.
 
  • Covered employers include any person or governmental authority that employs at least one individual in the state of Maryland.
 
  • An employee generally may not receive more than 12 weeks of benefits in an application year (i.e., the 12-month period beginning on the first day of the week in which an employee applies for benefits). However, an employee may receive an additional 12 weeks of benefits if the individual qualifies for both family leave (i.e., bonding with a new child) and a medical leave due to their own serious health condition in the same application year. Leave benefits will be available on a continuous or intermittent basis; however, an employee may not take intermittent leave in an increment of less than 4 hours.
 
  • Benefits will be available for the following covered reasons: (1) to care for a child during the first year after the child’s birth or after the placement of the child through foster care, kinship care or adoption, (2) to care for a family member with a serious health condition, (3) for the employee’s own serious health condition that results in their being unable to perform the functions of their position, (4) to care for a service member who is the employee’s next of kin, or (5) for a qualifying exigency arising out of the deployment of a service member who is a family member of the employee.
 
  • A covered employer can also satisfy the Act’s requirements through a private employer-plan that meets or exceeds the benefits and coverages provided in the Act and is approved by the Maryland Department of Labor. An employer that elects the private plan option (and its employees) will be exempt from the contribution requirements.
 
We recommend all employers with even just one (1) employee in Maryland update their Employee Handbook to ensure compliance with this new requirement.
 
If employers have any questions or concerns, we recommend they contact us.