Anne W. Chapman, Esq.
Labor and Employment, Business Litigation

While employment law is always developing, the combination of the White House administration change and Covid-19 during the past year has resulted in greater than normal changes in this area of law. Below are highlights of some of the recent developments for you to consider when evaluating your current workplace practices and procedures.

MINIMUM WAGE
Approval of a Constitutional amendment by Florida voters last year resulted in Florida’s minimum wage increasing to $10 per hour, effective September 30, 2021. Thereafter, Florida’s minimum wage will increase $1 per hour each year until reaching $15 per hour effective September 30, 2026. Likewise, pursuant to a recent executive order, minimum wage for employees of federal contractors will increase to $15 per hour beginning in 2022.

COVID-19 PAID LEAVE PROVISIONS
While paid COVID-19 related leave expired at the end of 2020, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides that eligible employers can claim refundable tax credits related to voluntarily providing COVID-related leave from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.

INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR RULE
The Department of Labor (DOL) withdrew the independent contractor rule that it finalized shortly before the change in administration earlier this year. This rule change is expected to make it more difficult to classify certain workers as independent contractors rather than employees. The DOL also confirmed that it remains focused on reducing misclassification of workers as independent contractors.

JOINT EMPLOYER
We also anticipate the Department of Labor will revise last year’s joint employer rule, which narrowed the circumstances under which an employer can be deemed a joint employer under the federal law establishing minimum wage and overtime requirements, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This rule is currently not in effect as a result of a legal challenge.

COVID-19 VACCINATIONS
There is no definitive guidance related to mandatory vaccination policies from any governmental agency. However, it is apparent that employees should conduct significant analysis before implementing a policy requiring employee vaccinations. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance issued late last year confirms that an employer’s vaccination requirement could affect an employee’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

For more information regarding employment law, please contact labor and employment attorney Anne Chapman at (941) 748-0100 or achapman@blalockwalters.com.

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