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  • Writer's picturePaul F. Keneally

Employment Law: What Employers Need to Know as 2021 Begins

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

In addition to the our post in late December, Mandating COVID-19 Vaccinations in the Workplace, there are other important laws and regulations that apply to employers as of January 2021.

The new minimum wage for Upstate including the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions is $12.50 per hour, making the minimum overtime rate $18.75 per hour.

The new minimum annual salary for the Administrative and Executive exemptions to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act for Upstate including the Western New York and Finger Lakes regions is $48,750.00.

The federal stimulus package just passed by Congress/signed by the President provides an extra $300 per week to those receiving unemployment benefits, extends those benefits for 11 weeks for those who run out of State eligibility, and extends the program that broadens the definition of who qualifies for unemployment benefits to include those such as gig workers and independent contractors. These new provisions expire on March 14, 2021.

Employees will begin to be able to take accrued New York State paid sick/safe leave (or PTO in you include paid sick/safe leave within it) as of January 1, 2021.

The New York State COVID-19 Leave law continues in effect for those employees who have not already taken the applicable leave amount.

The federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA”) has expired as of December 31, 2020. However, the federal stimulus package referenced above permits employers to voluntarily provide FFCRA emergency paid sick leave (“EPSL”) and/or emergency paid family and medical leave (“EFMLA”) through March 15, 2021 if the employees would have qualified for those leaves when the law was in effect, and still take the relevant federal tax credits with the appropriate documentation. The FFCRA job protection for the employees taking EPSL and/or EFMLA will still be required. There has been no legislative extension of the amount of leave available for EPSL or EPFMLA, though the federal Department of Labor and/or the Internal Revenue Service may issue regulations regarding the FFCRA in 2021.

Also, the caps on the amounts paid for 2/3 or 100% EPSL and the 2/3 EFMLA. All FFCRA records must be maintained for four years, which will be particularly important if there ever is an issue about the propriety of tax credits taken.

If you have any questions regarding the issues discussed above or if you have any other Labor & Employment Law concerns, please contact the Underberg & Kessler attorney who regularly handles your legal matters or Paul Keneally, the author of this piece, here or at (585) 258-2882.

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