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Policies and Procedure Checkup: Which Employment Policies Should You Review in the New Year?

The start of a new year means new laws and regulations go into effect, many of which concern Massachusetts businesses. If you have a company or you’re in charge of setting and enforcing company policy, it is imperative to conduct a checkup now that 2022 is off to a start. Failing to do so could cost your organization money in terms of fines, penalties, and potentially lawsuits. Have you examined your business policies and procedures lately? SederLaw can help.

New Law All Employers Should Know

So what are some new laws that employers must know about? Here are just a few of the statewide changes:

Minimum wage. The state’s minimum wage increased to $14.25 per hour beginning January 1, 2022. Employers must also post an updated wage and hour poster that informs employees of their rights. Tipped employees are treated somewhat differently. Starting in 2022, they are entitled to a minimum wage of $6.15 per hour, as long as tips make up the difference. Employers must cover any gap between actual earned income of tipped workers and minimum wage of $14.25 per hour.

Sunday and holiday premium pay. A related issue is hourly pay for Sunday and holiday workers. In 2022, retailers must pay 1.1 times an employee’s regular rate of pay for working on these days. This is a decrease from 1.2 times the regular rate, which was the requirement until the end of 2021.

Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)Massachusetts’ version of the Family and Medical Leave Act provides more generous benefits than the federal law. In 2022, for instance, the maximum weekly benefit increases from $850 per week to $1,084.31 per week. Employers should also know that PFML applies more broadly than the federal FMLA.

Covid-19 emergency paid sick leave. Employers are required to provide up to 40 hours of emergency paid sick leave to employees who need to isolate, quarantine, recover from vaccine side effects, are ill with or seeking diagnosis of COVID 19 or need to care for a family member who needs to isolate, quarantine, recover from vaccine side effects, is ill with or seeking diagnosis of COVID 19. This compensation is in addition to other paid time off benefits required by law or employer-provided paid leave. Originally, this requirement was supposed to end in 2021. But the paid leave was extended through April 1, 2022 or the exhaustion of $75 million in funds as determined by the Commonwealth. This leave is reimbursable from the Commonwealth. Employers will need to have employees complete a written request for COVID temporary emergency in order to qualify for reimbursement from the Commonwealth.

Why Updating Your Policies Is Important

This is where having an updated and comprehensive policies and procedures manual is essential. These handbooks not only lay out clear expectations for employees, but they also specify the rules and regulations that govern employers. This way no one is in the dark about what to expect of both labor and management.

A policy handbook is also essential for businesses that have numerous staff in charge of enforcing company policies. Those members of the company need to understand the standards that govern the business, the benefits that employees are entitled to, and the rules that employees must follow.

If someone in your organization is responsible for enforcing the rules but doesn’t know those rules have changed, they could inadvertently violate a protection enjoyed by the employees. On the other hand, not knowing the changes in the law could be a detriment to your business. For example, your company may end up overpaying employees if those in charge of enforcing the rules are unaware of the change in Sunday and holiday premium pay (mentioned above).

Employment policies and procedures manuals keep everyone – employers and employees alike – on fair and equal footing before the law. Have you taken the time to review and update your manual? Our Labor and Employment Law attorneys stay on top of the changes that occur at the local, state, and federal levels, and how they may impact your bottom line. Reach out to us today.