GA2It’s been a long-time coming but the General Assembly finally approved of a measure that would allow employers to pay employees on a bi-weekly basis without receiving prior CTDOL approval.

The provision, part of a set of “technical” revisions to various Department of Labor matters, is long overdue.

Several employers had moved to a bi-weekly payroll scheme without realizing that they needed approval from the CTDOL beforehand.  That approval won’t be required anymore (assuming this bill is approved by the governor).

I’ve previously discussed the requirement so now employers who have been wary about seeking such approval, can just move ahead on their own.

Senate Bill 220 also makes lots of technical changes to the unemployment compensation scheme and even to drug testing (getting rid of the suggesting that the DOL develop some regulations in this area).  These probably won’t be of interest to most employers, but it’s worth a look through the bill summary to see if something else touches on your industry.

The measure will become effective when the Governor signs the overall bill.  (Other provisions in the bill go into effect October 1, 2016.)

Sure, the headline is click-bait. Designed to get your attention.

But it’s actually true.  Connecticut law requires employers in Connecticut to pay their employees on a weekly basis.  Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-71b states it in sorta plain English.

[E]ach employer … shall pay weekly all moneys due each employee on a regular pay day, designated in advance by the employer …

And the law goes further pay specifying that the pay day can’t be too far in advance:

The end of the pay period for which payment is made on a regular pay day shall be not more than eight days before such regular pay day, provided, if such regular pay day falls on a nonwork day, payment shall be made on the preceding work day.

So, is that it? The end of the story.

Fortunately, no. The Connecticut Department of Labor routinely grants waivers of the weekly pay requirement at least to go to bi-weekly pay.   In Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-71i, it states:

The commissioner may, upon application, waive the provisions of section 31-71b with respect to any particular week or weeks, and may also, upon application, permit any employer subject to the provisions of this section to establish regular payday less frequently than weekly, provided each employee affected shall be paid in full at least once in each calendar month on a regularly established schedule.

How does an employer do this? If you are seeking a waiver to pay bi-weekly (26 times a year), then you can fill out a form online here.

Semi-monthly pay and monthly pay waivers are less common and employers need increasingly important reasons to go to such a system.  Employers who wish to do so, can send a letter to the Connecticut Department of Labor to do so.

Employers who fail to get a waiver do open themselves up to significant fines. While the Connecticut DOL seeks compliance in this area more than penalties, it’s not a risk that employers need to take.

If you need help filing out the form, talk to your local counsel.

In my continuing series of posts this summer on recurring issues in employment law, this week I’ll address the payment of wages and the question: Can I pay my employees on a bi-weekly basis?

The answer to that question is “no” — at least not without a waiver from the Connecticut Department of Labor.

Connecticut law requires that all employees be paid on a weekly basis.  But the law also allows the CTDOL to grant waivers upon requests by employers.

Bi-weekly payment of wages waivers are fairly routine and routinely granted. They are so routine that the DOL has created an online form. Typically (though not always), the DOL does not look to see whether the employer was actually engaged in this practice beforehand and is satisfied with the employer’s newfound compliance.

For semi-monthly and monthly payment of wages, the DOL has granted waivers on a much more limited basis.  The employer in those cases must typically show some extraordinary need.  Otherwise, the request will be denied, more often than not.

If you haven’t been complying with this law, seek legal counsel to discuss the legal issues in play and understand the consequences of non-compliance.

Our monthly free monthly webinar series continues on Wednesday, December 8th at noon EST with a unique program on whether employers can adopt English-only rules.  You can register here to join us.  

This should be a terrific one-hour program that you can listen to during your lunch hour.  Even if you’re not considering adopting formal rules, sometimes these types of policies can get passed down informally.  Two of my colleagues, Rick Robinson and Megan Youngling Carannante will address the group; Rick obtained a favorable result for a client in one such case and we will be able to answer questions during the session.  

The program will review appellate decisions on the subject and the history of legislative and administrative developments.  The goals of the program are to equip practitioners and in-house counsel with the ability to answer their clients when they ask, “Are English- Only Rules legal?” and to identify the strategies they must follow when their clients say, “I want to fight to keep my rule.”  

Even pop culture is getting into the act.  A new song, "We No Speak Americano" has quickly become a favorite in the United States.  There are a few spots remaining for tomorrow’s program.  Don’t miss out.  

Given the typically slower summer months, I’m going to highlight some basic Connecticut employment laws that most employers should be familiar with (but that some may not).  Picking up on yesterday’s post, it’ll be entitled "The Basics" and hopefully will run at least once every week.

Today’s topic: Weekly Payment of Wages.

Photo credit: Morguefile

Connecticut law (Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-71b) provides that employers in Connecticut have to pay their employees on a weekly basis. Not every other week. Not twice a month.

For multi-state employers on may have a bi-weekly payroll schedule across the country, this can cause a few headaches (though most payroll companies have long since been able to adapt payroll schedules on a state-by-state basis). 

But of course, there’s a big exception to this:  Employers can ask the Department of Labor for a waiver. Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-71i provides that the department  has the discretion to grant or deny such a waiver, so long as the employee is paid at least once a month.  

To request a bi-weekly payment schedule, in fact, the Conn. DOL has set up an online form that the employer can fill out; these requests are typically granted by the CTDOL.  

For employers who request a semi-monthly or even monthly pay schedules, those requests have to be sent directly to the Department of Labor. Those are typically scrutinized in much more detail and there ought to be a pretty good rationale behind that request. 

Six months ago, I predicted a renewed emphasis on reduction in force laws and regulations with the possibility of an economic slowdown looming.  With six months left to go in the year, I’m still feeling good (if you can feel "good" about such things) about that prediction. 

Is the economy still on the yellow brick road or are we walking deeper into the forest filled with lions, tigers and bears?

The statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission do not paint a rosy picture.  

The numbers of discrimination claims filed with the EEOC are up.  

And up by a lot.

In fact, the EEOC reported a 21 percent increase in charges for the first quarter of 2008, over the same period last year. 

So what can employers do? I talked a few weeks ago about one aspect of reductions in force — namely compliance with the OWBPA (Older Worker Benefit Protection Act) and how compliance with that law can avoid one pitfall associated with a reduction in force. 

But another law that is commonly misunderstood is the WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act.  WARN is not a mandatory severance law; in other words, it doesn’t mean that employers need to give employees severance when they are affected by a mass layoff or plant closing.

What WARN does require is that the employer give notice to employees who may be affected by a plant closing or mass layoff.  The Department of Labor has prepared this fact sheet for employers to answer some of the basic questions.   It is a law that is, frankly, fairly easy to comply with, and yet there are still some employers who are facing class actions for their alleged failure to comply

In addition to notice to employees, the employer must also notify the Connecticut Department of Labor of its proposed actions.  The state then posts them in monthly reports available here.  You can view July’s report here.

What is fascinating about the reports thus far is that Connecticut has, as of now, avoided some of the mass layoffs that have plagued some of the other states.  The June reports for Connecticut show only 400 or so employees statewide who received WARN notices.  Moreover, numbers released over the weekend show that Connecticut employers have added jobs, not eliminated them.  Whether this trend continues will be an item to watch for in the second half of 2008.

In an upcoming post, I’ll highlight some of the particulars of WARN in more detail.  Until then, try to avoid the fields of sleeping flowers.