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Paul Zimmerman

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Employer Alert: Key 2017 Federal Employment Law Updates

Recent federal, state, and municipal employment law developments will have a significant impact on employers in 2017. Employers must update their employee handbooks, employment agreements, arbitration agreements, confidentiality agreements, and related policies and procedures to ensure that they are compliant with these developments. This is Part I of a four part series exploring key employment law updates for 2017. We begin with changes to United States federal law:

Overtime Rule for White Collar Workers. Beginning on December 1, 2016, executive, administrative, and professional employees – “white collar” workers – must earn a salary of $913 per week or $47,476 annually, more than double the prior  salary level, to qualify as exempt from federal overtime law. All employment agreements and other documents relating to white collar worker pay must be reviewed for compliance.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act. This law, which has been referred to as the most important revision to trade secrets law since the Lanham Act, establishes, among other things, uniform national standards for trade   secrets,  misappropriation, service of process, and execution of judgments. It also requires employers to notify employees and contractors of their right to provide information in confidence to a government official or an attorney for purposes of reporting or investigating a suspected violation of law. Employee handbooks, as well as confidentiality and proprietary agreements, must be updated to ensure compliance with the DTSA.

Arbitration. 2016 was an extremely busy year at the federal and state levels for decisions relating to arbitration  agreements. Due to a federal circuit court split regarding enforceability of mandatory class action waivers (which  will likely need to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court), as well as numerous other developments, all arbitration agreements must be thoroughly reviewed in light of these recent changes.

Paid Sick Leave and Minimum Wage: Federal Contractors. Federal contractors operating under construction, service, and concessions contracts, and contracts in connection with federal property or lands, must provide paid sick leave in the amount of 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked on or in connection with a covered contract, or 56 hours of paid sick leave at the beginning of each accrual year. Contractors may limit the accrual of paid sick leave to 56 hours per year. In addition, the minimum wage for federal contract workers increases to $10.20 per hour. These changes affect contracts issued on or after January 1, 2017.

New I-9 Form (Immigration Status). The newest version of the federal Form I-9 will be made available by November 22, 2016. Employers must start using the new form on or before January 1, 2017.

Stay tuned for Parts II – IV of this series exploring new employment laws in California, New York and Illinois.

This blog post is not offered as, and should not be relied on as, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.