Retirement plans. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published a Request for Information on its fiduciary rule, which gives the public a new opportunity to comment on the basis for new exemptions; changes or revisions to the rule and prohibited transaction exemptions (PTEs); and the advisability of extending the January 1, 2018, applicability date of certain provisions in the Best Interest Contract Exemption, the Principal Transaction Exemption, and PTE 84-24. The DOL is particularly interested in whether it would be appropriate to adopt an additional, more streamlined exemption or other rule change for advisers committed to taking new approaches, such as mutual fund “clean shares” and fee-based annuities, based on the potential for reducing conflicts of interest and increasing transparency. Comments concerning the applicability date are due by July 21, 2017, and comments on the other matters are due by August 7, 2017.
Paid family leave. Washington has enacted a paid family leave program that, beginning January 1, 2020, will provide employees with up to 12 weeks of paid medical leave, and up to 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a new child or an ailing family member. The leave is capped at 16 weeks if an employee needs both types of time off in a one-year period. Employees are eligible after working 820 hours and, depending on earnings, will receive up to 90 percent of their wage or up to $1,000 per week during their leave. The cost of the program is shared between employers and employees through a payroll tax. Note that Washington previously enacted a paid family leave program in 2007, but funding was never approved and subsequent laws sidelined it.
FLSA exemptions. In the appeal brief filed by the DOL in State of Nevada v. U.S. Department of Labor, pending in the Fifth Circuit, the agency made it clear that although it intends to vigorously defend its right to establish a salary level for purposes of identifying workers who are employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity (and thus exempt from the minimum wage and overtime pay protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act), it will not defend the salary level ($913 per week) set by the Obama administration in its ill-fated ove