January 2019 Delaware Legislative Update
Friday, February 8, 2019
Posted by: Emma Pautler
Brought to you by the Delaware SHRM State Council, DelMarVa SHRM and the Delaware SHRM Chapters.
1. NEW SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAW EXTENDS PROTECTIONS
There’s an important new law affecting Delaware workplaces - the new Delaware sexual harassment law effective January 1, 2019. Sexual harassment has been illegal in Delaware workplaces for over 20 years. However, the definition has never been clearly spelled out in the law until now.
The new law broadly defines, and prohibits, sexual harassment and retaliation. There are also new requirements for employers. Beginning January 1, 2019, each employer (with 4 or more employees) must distribute the Department of Labor's Sexual Harassment Notice to each new employee upon commencement of employment, and to each existing employee by July 1, 2019. The notice explains sexual harassment, provides several examples, cautions against retaliation, and gives instructions on filing a complaint with the Department of Labor. In workplaces with 50 or more employees, employers are required to provide interactive training on sexual harassment prevention for all existing employees by December 31, 2019, and additional training to supervisors about their responsibilities and the retaliation prohibitions. The training must be provided to all new employees and supervisors within one year of commencement of their position, making Delaware the fifth state to statutorily mandate sexual harassment training.
The Sexual Harassment Notice is available on the Department’s website and can be downloaded in English here or Spanish here.
2. MINMUM WAGE INCREASES JANUARY 1ST
Minimum wage will be increasing for most individuals in Delaware twice in 2019.
On January 1, it will be $8.75; and then
On October 1, it will be $9.25
But, for the first time in Delaware history, we will now have a multi-tiered minimum wage. The General Assembly adopted a "Youth Rate" and a "Training Rate" that is $8.25. The youth rate applies to workers ages 14 through 17. The training rate applies to adult workers during their first ninety days on a new job. These new categories are $.50 less than the regular minimum wage rate. Effectively, that means workers under 18 and new employees with less than 90 days on the job won't see an increase on January 1st. Their first increase ($8.75) will come when they become eligible for the regular rate or on October 1, 2019, with the next general increase, whichever comes first.
The labor law poster sets out all the rates. It is required to be displayed in all workplaces in a place accessible to employees and where they regularly pass. The poster is available on the Department of Labor’s website and can be downloaded in English here and Spanish here.
3. WORKFLEX IN THE 21ST CENTURY ACT
The Workflex in the 21st Century Act is getting prominent support on Capitol Hill. Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., president of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), testified before the House subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions in support of the bill, which makes it easier for employers to offer different and innovative paid leave and flexible work options in support of employees’ differing schedules and work/life balance.
The bill is a first-of-its-kind combination of guaranteed paid leave and increased workplace flexibility (“workflex”) options. Under the legislation, employers would voluntarily offer full-time and part-time employees at least a guaranteed minimum level of paid leave. The amount would depend on an employee’s tenure and the employer’s size. Participating employers also would offer to all employees at least one type of workflex option.
- This legislation would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by providing participating employers flexibility and predictability in designing workflex offerings.
- Paid leave would be extended to all full-time and part-time employees. Employees may accrue leave over the course of a plan year or employers may offer employees a leave lump sum amount at the start of the plan year. New employees
- would be subject to restrictions on the use of leave during the first 90 days of employment.
- Employers, not taxpayers, would pay the cost of paid leave provided for in the bill.
- Paid leave requirements would be scaled to the size of the employer’s workforce and the tenure of the employee, allowing employers to design a leave plan that meets the needs of the organization and its employees.
- Part-time workers would be entitled to a proportional amount of paid leave based on the number of hours they work.
- To be eligible for a workflex arrangement, an employee would have to be employed for at least 12 months by the employer and would have to have worked at least 1,000 hours during the previous 12 months.
- Under the plan, employers would offer at least one of the following workflex arrangements to each eligible employee: compressed work schedule, biweekly work program, telecommuting program, job-sharing program, flexible scheduling or a predictable schedule.
- Eight states and more than 30 jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, have adopted their own paid sick leave laws. However, under this legislation, this ERISA-covered plan would pre-empt state and local paid leave and workflex laws. The measure would not affect laws on unpaid leave.
- The legislation would not affect the coverage protections afforded under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
4. IRS RELEASES 2019 FORM W-4
On December 12, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released the 2019 version of Form W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate) and instructions. Overall, the final version of Form W-4 (2019), for use in tax year 2019, is similar to the 2018 version of the form and retains the use of withholding allowances.
Employees use IRS Form W-4 to establish marital status and withholding allowances for federal income tax withholding calculations. Many states use the Federal Form W-4 for state withholding purposes.
Some of the highlights of the 2019 Form W-4 are as follows:
An employee may claim exemption from withholding in the 2019 tax year if: (1) the employee was entitled to a refund of all federal income tax withheld for 2018 due to no tax liability; and (2) the employee expects a refund of all federal income tax withheld in 2019, because he/she expects to have no tax liability.
The Form W-4 Deductions, Adjustments, and Additional Income Worksheet has been updated to take into account the increase in the annual withholding allowance from $4,150 to $4,200 in 2019. Additionally, the worksheet has been updated to reflect the increase in the standard deduction for 2019 from: (1) $24,000 to $24,400 for joint filers and surviving spouses, (2) $18,000 to $18,350 for head of household, and (3) $12,000 to $12,200 for single filers and married filing separately. Employees are generally required to furnish a new Form W-4 to their employer within 10 days if they experience a "change of status" that results in a reduction of withholding allowances. However, Notice 2018-92, 2018-50 IRB (Internal Revenue Bulletin), allows employees who experience a reduction in withholding allowances before May 1 ― that was solely due to tax law changes in the TCJA ― to not furnish a new W-4 to their employer until May 10, 2019.
2019 Form W-4
6. DELAWARE SHRM JOINT LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE COMMITTEE CONTACT INFORMATION
- Jacqueline Poquette, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Delaware SHRM State Council, Legislative Affairs Director, EMAIL
- Dan Bloom, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, DE SHRM, Legislative Chair, EMAIL
- Janie Libby, MBA, PHR, SHRM-CP, DelMarVa SHRM, Vice President of Legislative/Government Affairs, EMAIL
- Joanne Lee, Delaware SHRM State Council, Director, EMAIL
- Dr. Nicole Evans, DBA, SPHR, Delaware SHRM State Council Director-Elect, EMAIL
- Maria Clyde, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Delaware SHRM State Council, Treasurer, EMAIL
This publication is the result of the combined efforts of members of Delaware SHRM State Council, DE SHRM and DelMarVa SHRM Chapters. Any questions or suggestions should be referred to members of the Delaware SHRM State Joint Legislative Initiative Committee. This Legislative Update is for informational purposes only. It is strongly recommended that you consult with an attorney for legal advice.