Employee or Independent Contractor? New DOL Guidance Now on Hold

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When are workers “employees” and not “independent contractors”? Three key points apply here. First, no bright-line rule necessarily exists; rather, facts and circumstances are always important. Second, the answer may depend on context – payroll tax, overtime and minimum wage laws, workers’ compensation coverage, etc. Third, careful evaluation may be warranted, depending on specific worker situations per these variables. This legal area just got a little more complicated, with the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) January 2021 final rule now placed on hold by the new Biden Presidential Administration.

Employment-Related Religious Rights and Responsibilities: EEOC

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How do religion and the workplace fit together? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for handling employment-related religious discrimination claims, just updated its Compliance Manual on Religious Discrimination to extensively address this question in terms of both employers’ and employees’ legal rights. Among other things, the Manual defines religion itself, addresses important employment exemptions, and explains key concepts like harassment and required “reasonable accommodation.” The Manual also works through employees’ religious rights in the workplace, such as taking religious holidays, wearing religious garb, displaying religious symbols and literature, and sharing religious views with others.

Home Office Expenses: What You Need To Know

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many people are still working from home. This arrangement raises important questions. May employees take advantage of tax breaks related to having a home office? Must the employer pay for the expenses of setting up a workspace at the employee’s home? What related information should employers and employees be aware of? Workers may be able to obtain tax deductions or tax-free reimbursements from their employer due to working at home, but they have to meet specific requirements as follows.

Legal Compliance for Out-of-State Remote Workers

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COVID-19 has made working from home commonplace, with many identifiable benefits from operating with a mostly remote workforce.  Since COVID-19 relegated workers across America to home offices, nonprofit and other employers have realized significant costs savings with a smaller office footprint and also greater opportunities for attracting top-tier job candidates outside their ordinary geographical reach. Such benefits may transform remote work from a temporary solution, to address for workers’ health and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, into predominantly more long-term remote work arrangements. 

Year-End Deadline for Illinois Sexual Harassment Training Program

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Employer alert: If you run a nonprofit or business of any size, make sure to comply with new anti-harassment training requirements by year-end 2020. Just over a year ago, this new requirement was signed into law, as an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act. All Illinois employers of any size must now provide annual sexual harassment prevention training and maintain related records reflecting compliance.  

COVID-Related Paid Leave Requirements: New Employer Guidance

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Effective September 16, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor has broadened paid leave entitlements under the FFCRA, and modified by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, for health care workers and clarified a number of other employer obligations.  The new rules come after a New York federal court judge struck down the Department of Labor’s initial attempt to provide employers with some clear guidance for operating within the contours of the FFCRA.[1]  The Department of Labor’s updated guidance addresses exclusions for health care providers and important clarifications for all other employers subject to the FFCRA.

EEOC Issues COVID-Related Employment Guidance

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently issued extensive COVID-related Q&A employment guidance, including initial employee screening, questions that may and may not be asked of employees about their health and medical condition, confidentiality of medical information, remote work in relation to disability considerations, and potential litigation issues. 

Re-Opening: Yet, Not Yet, Somewhere In-Between?

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Gathering in person for nonprofit programs, religious worship, and work: how does a nonprofit engage in these activities mid-pandemic? With masks becoming ubiquitous, people yearning to connect, and Zoom tolerance tiring, nonprofit leaders are taking a variety of approaches for operating amidst coronavirus-related restrictions. In our law practice, we are seeing precautions for religious worship, school activities, and other social service programming.

Enhanced Unemployment Benefits Expire without Congressional Intervention

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This week the additional $600 of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation ("FPUC") authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES") and paid to millions out of work due to the coronavirus is set to expire. Unless Congress reaches a consensus to continue FPUC, unemployment benefits will return to pre-pandemic levels after July 31.


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