With the new year come new laws in the labor and employment field. The following are some of the key changes for 2008:
1. Minimum Wage increases to $8.00 per hour. I did see a couple a new minimum wage cases last year when it increased to $7.50, but the main impact is in minimum rates based on minimum wage. For instance, in order to be exempt as an Executive, Administrative, or Professional employee, you must be paid on a salary basis that equals two times the minimum wage for a 40 hour week. Thus, in 2008, this is $640 per week or $33,280.
Another area that is greatly affected by this increase is commissioned sales people. In order to be exempt as a commissioned sales person, you must make at least 1 1/2 times the minimum wage for all hours worked and have 50% of your income come from commissions. For 2008, if you work a 60 hour week, you must make at least $720 in order to be exempt from overtime. If you make less than this, you automatically qualify for overtime. As a note, there are many non-retail sales positions that are entitled to overtime, even if they make more than the minimum required. For instance, loan officers and stock brokers generally qualify for overtime.
2. Another change that was probably long overdue requires employers to stop printing your Social Security Number (SSN) on your check. Effective January 1, 2008, the employer is allowed to print no more than the last 4 digits of your SSN. Alternately, the employer can print a "employee id" that is different from your SSN. In addition, you are entitled to any damages that you suffer as a result of this number being printed, but it appears that these damages would be capped at $4,000. Given that proving these damages is difficult, if you suffer any damages at all, you are entitled to $50 for the first pay check and $100 for each additional paycheck. These damages can be a mere slight inconvenience. For instance, if you spend the time to cross off the SSN on each pay check stub that you receive, this would likely entitle you to the $100 for each check.
3. As discussed previously, the Computer Professional Exemption is changing in 2008. A large number of computer programmers are losing their right to overtime pay. Interestingly enough, this has actually caused a increase in the number of programmers who are asserting their rights. Just in the last month, my office has had a dramatic increase in the number of people filing claims for unpaid computer overtime.
4. Military Spouse leave. Another long overdue change in the law allows spouses of military personnel to take 2-weeks of unpaid leave to spend time with their family when the military spouse returns from deployment. Most likely, this law will not give rise to significant litigation, but if you are a military spouse, you may need to remind your employer of what your rights are.