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Hot on the Hill: Proposed Legislation as of August 4, 2022

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

Several pieces of proposed legislation introduced in the 117th Congress’ first session could significantly alter the American payroll landscape. Bills in committees in the House of Representatives and Senate aim to provide an overtime exception to claims adjusters for major disasters, establish “worker flexibility agreements” for gig workers, provide paid breaks to construction workers, gradually repeal the tip credit, prohibit the use of piece rates by garment industry employers, prohibit tax breaks for union-busting activities, and require employers to report settlements of employee discrimination claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Checkmark Note: See Payroll Update, 08/04/2022 regarding the latest news on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

Senate Bills in Committee:

S4659. The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2023, introduced July 28, 2022, contains a provision (Sec. 108) that aims to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide an overtime exception for a worker employed to adjust or evaluate claims resulting from a major disaster who receives an average weekly compensation the greater of at least $591 per week or any minimum weekly amount established by the Labor Secretary for the number of weeks the employee is engaged in specified activities such as interviewing insured individuals or inspecting damaged property, or negotiating settlements. The overtime exemption would be available for a period of two years after the occurrence of a major disaster as declared or designated by a federal or state agency or department. The bill contains provisions regarding flexibility for H-2B visa workers in the seafood industry and providing how prevailing wage determinations would be made for the H-2B program. The bill is under review by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

House Bills in Committee:

HR8442. A bipartisan bill, the “Worker Flexibility and Choice Act,” introduced July 20, 2022, would amend the FLSA to establish the use of “worker flexibility agreements,” designed for gig workers, to permit a voluntary arrangement where a worker retains some workplace rights including privacy rights, nondiscrimination, antiharassment, nonretaliation, safety, and leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act while retaining the ability to reject offers to provide services for an entity without jeopardizing continuing opportunities in the future and would generally not prohibit the worker from providing similar services to another entity unless part of a non-solicitation sales agreement. The agreement must specify that workers under such arrangements will not be treated as employees for federal tax purposes and worker affirms that it is not subject to minimum wage and overtime protections. Workers must be provided a summary of health, pensions, insurance, training, and certification programs, or other benefits, if any, that the individual is eligible for while the agreement is in effect. A one-page summary is available. The bill is currently under review by the House Committees on Education and Labor and Ways and Means.

HR8444. Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX) introduced the “Construction Injury Prevention Act” (CIPA) on July 20, 2022 that seeks to amend the FLSA to provide paid rest breaks for construction employees. Specifically, the bill would require employers to provide at least one 15-minute break for every four hours worked. Additionally, employers would be required to provide notice to an employee, upon hire, of the right to paid breaks and post a written notice in an accessible location for employees. Under the bill, employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee for requesting or taking paid breaks, or for filing a complaint. The bill is currently under review by the House Committee on Education and Labor.

HR8427. The “Tipped Worker Protection Act,” introduced on July 19, 2022, currently under review by the House Committee on Education and Labor, and the Committee on Ways and Means, seeks to gradually repeal the separate minimum wage currently permissible under the FLSA. See Payroll Update, 07/27/2022.

HR8473. Introduced July 21, 2022, this bill seeks to prohibit employers in the garment industry from paying workers by piece rate. It would further require garment industry employers to register with the Department of Labor. The bill is currently under by the House Committee on Education and Labor, and the Committee on Ways and Means. The test of the bill is not currently available.

HR8448. Introduced July 20, 2022, the “No Tax Breaks for Union Busting (NTBUB) Act” would prohibit employers from taking a tax deduction for any expenditures incurred for attempting to influence their employees with respect to labor organizations or labor organization activities, such as elections, labor disputes, and collective actions. The bill would also require employers to report their activities designed to influence employees with respect to labor organizations and activities. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Finance. S4912 mirrors the bill and was introduced in May 2022.

HR8618. A bill, introduced July 29, 2022, would require the annual reporting by employers to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of the number of settlements of employee claims of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), age (40 or older), disability, genetic information (including family medical history), or any combination of such factors. The bill is under review by the House Committee on Education and Labor. The text of the bill is not currently available.

 

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