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Don't HR Alone #22 - Louisiana Payroll, Benefits Raises, Salary History, and AHCA Updates

Louisiana DOR authorized to require electronic tax return filings, payments — LOUISIANA — Withholding and Reporting

Effective June 12, 2017, the Louisiana Department of Revenue (DOR) is authorized to require the filing of electronic tax returns and the payment of taxes by electronic funds transfer, except for individual income tax reports or filings. Also, in cases where the taxpayer can prove the payment by electronic funds transfer would create an undue hardship, the DOR must exempt the taxpayer from paying by electronic funds transfer. (Act 150 (H.B. 333), Laws 2017, effective as noted.)

One-third of companies increase employee benefits in war for talent, SHRM survey finds — SURVEY RESULTS

Nearly one-third of organizations increased their overall benefits in the last 12 months signaling the need to remain competitive in today’s recruiting environment, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) 2017 Employee Benefits survey report released June 19. Increases in benefits packages were most likely in health (22 percent) and wellness (24 percent) offerings.

“Recruiting difficulty has continued to increase over the last five years, and competition for talent is high,” said Shonna Waters, vice president of research for SHRM. “Most companies are now using benefits as a strategic tool for recruiting and retaining talent in this competitive environment.”

Offering health care to employee spouses and domestic partners is one way that employers are strategically using health care benefits in recruiting. In 2014, 71 percent of companies offered opposite-sex spouses health care coverage, while only 46 percent offered it to same-sex spouses. That gap closed to just 10 percentage points in 2017. Ninety-five percent of employees now offer health care coverage to opposite-sex spouses, while 85 percent offer it to same-sex spouses. Although to control health care costs, 19 percent of employers have restrictions or a surcharge for coverage for opposite-sex spouses, and 16 percent have restrictions for coverage for same-sex spouses.

Additionally, about one-third of companies (34 percent) are offering health care coverage to part-time employees. That compares to 27 percent in 2014. At the same time, about three of every five organizations (59 percent) have a general wellness program for employees.

The increase in certain flexible work arrangements also indicates that it is an important factor with recruitment and retention. Slightly more than three out of five organizations (62 percent) allowed some type of telecommuting, and 57 percent offered flextime, allowing employees to choose their work hours within limits established by the employer.

The biggest change for flexible working benefits was an increase in telecommuting on an ad-hoc basis (59 percent) over the past five years.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management.

New Delaware law prohibits employers from requesting salary history — STATE LAW

Delaware Governor John Carney recently signed a new law that will prevent employers from requesting the salary history of job applicants and will help close the pay gap between men and women.

House Substitute 1 for House Bill 1 passed both houses of the state legislature on June 6. The bipartisan measure, sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, will take effect in December. The law also explicitly prohibits employers from screening applicants based on previous compensation history. Delaware will become the first state to enact such changes into law. Massachusetts and Oregon have also passed similar legislation, but the Massachusetts law (S. 2119) will take effect in July of 2018 and the Oregon bill (H.B. 2005) takes effect on January 1, 2019.

“All Delawareans should expect to be compensated equally for performing the same work,” said Governor Carney. “This new law will help guarantee that across our state, and address a persistent wage gap between men and women. ....”

The new law makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer or the employer’s agent to: (1) screen applicants based on compensation history, including by requiring that an applicant’s prior compensation satisfy minimum or maximum criteria; (2) seek the compensation history of an applicant from the applicant or from a former employer.

An employer or the employer’s agent would not be prohibited from discussing and negotiating compensation expectations with a job applicant as long as the job applicant is not required to disclose his or her compensation history. Further, the law does not prohibit the employer or the employer’s agent from seeking compensation history after an offer of employment has been made and accepted, where the discussion is for the sole purpose of confirming the job applicant's compensation history.

Violation of the law will impose a hefty fine, with a civil penalty of $1,000 to $5,000 for a first violation and $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

“I am proud to be a sponsor of this legislation. All issues as they relate to wages and salary schedules should be gender-neutral,” said House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson. “A person’s gender should not be a factor in what we pay an individual for a particular job. This bill ensures we make that happen.”

Source: State of Delaware, Office of the Governor, News Release, June 14, 2017,

House approves two health care tax credit bills — PENDING LEGISLATION

The House has passed two additional tax credit bills related to the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The House passed its first AHCA-related legislation on June 13.

The Veterans Equal Treatment Ensures Relief and Access Now (VETERAN) Bill (HR 2372), passed in the House by voice vote, would amend the Code to codify rules concerning veteran health insurance and eligibility for the Code Sec. 36B premium assistance tax credit. Under current law, individuals with access to health insurance through employment or government assistance programs are not eligible to receive otherwise available tax credits to help purchase insurance in the individual insurance marketplace. Certain veterans, however, are granted an exception.

HR 2372 would codify the exception into law. The measure would take effect only if the AHCA becomes law.

The House also passed the Broader Options for Americans Bill (HR 2579). The measure was approved by a 267-to-144 vote.

HR 2579 would allow individuals maintaining health insurance coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) eligibility to receive access to the AHCA’s monthly tax credits. This bill, too, would only become effective upon enactment of the AHCA.

"House Republicans made it clear that we will continue to pass legislation to build on the American Health Care Act," Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said in a statement. "Republicans should work with Democrats to strengthen the system by building on the successes we have seen thanks to the [Patient Protection and] Affordable Care Act," said ranking Ways and Means member Richard Neal (D-Mass).

Source: Written by Jessica Jeane and George L. Yaksick, Jr., Wolters Kluwer News Staff.

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