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In This Issue:

Washington State Significantly Expands Overtime Exemption Rules

Caitlin Egeck, JD, HR & Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

On December 11, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries announced new rules regarding Washington State’s white collar exemption regulations. If not overturned, these rules will be phased in starting on July 1, 2020.

The updated rules set the minimum salary an employee must receive in order to be exempt from overtime. Along with being paid a minimum set salary, in general, employees must fall into the “white collar” exemptions of either executive, administrative, professional worker, outside salesperson, or computer professional duties under Washington law to be considered exempt.

Starting on July 1, 2020, the minimum salary threshold for Washington State’s “white collar” exemptions will increase to $675 per week ($35,100 annually). The minimum salary threshold will increase each year and by January 1, 2028, the minimum salary threshold is projected to be $1,603 per week ($83,356 annually). Employers with 50 or fewer employees have a more gradual phase-in schedule than employers with 51 or more employees.

As we have previously alerted you, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced earlier this year a new salary threshold that increases the minimum annual salary for exempt positions from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $684 per week ($35,568 annually) starting on January 1, 2020. Since the federal minimum salary threshold at $684 per week is greater than the first phase of Washington State’s minimum salary threshold at $675 per week, federal law will prevail until Washington’s threshold exceeds the federal threshold.

Washington employers should begin analyzing positions that may be impacted by this change and considering various compliance options such as increasing an employee’s salary, changing the position to non-exempt and paying overtime, restructuring the position, and other potential options.

Please let us know if you have any questions!


New Tool Launched to Encourage Disability Self-Identification

By Caitlin Egeck, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

In December, the National Industry Liaison Group (NILG) released a new resource for employers called "Engaging Employees to Measure Success: Innovative Approaches to Encouraging Self-Identification of Disability.” This resource, developed jointly by NILG and the US Department of Labor funded program, Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), lists key strategies to build inclusive workplaces and to encourage employees with disabilities to self-identify.

Federal contractors with 50 or more employees and contracts over $50,000 are required under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act to collect disability self-identification data and to take affirmative action with regard to qualified individuals with disabilities. However, collecting employee disability data can be challenging for employers.

Whether an employer is required to collect disability data and/or whether an employer is voluntarily taking steps to build a more inclusive workforce, this new resource by NILG provides employers with helpful approaches to employee self-identification.


2020 Survey Schedule and Pricing Now Available

By McKenna Arnold, Survey Manager
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

2020 is here, and with it, a new round of surveys and quality data! Download our survey calendar for the year, including estimates for launch dates, close dates, when reports will be available, and pricing.

In 2020, Cascade will be offering several new surveys. Included is the Oregon Wine & Vine Pay and Benefits Survey, collecting pay and benefits data from wineries and vineyards across the state. We will also be offering nonprofit reports of the Regional Pay Survey and Regional Benefit Survey, replacing the Nonprofit Pay and Benefits Survey. These reports will be available in a combined package at a reduced cost.

Also on offer is the National Wage and Salary Survey, which collects pay information on 151 positions across the country from local surveys of other Employers Associations. This survey is particularly useful to organizations with locations in other states that want to do side-by-side comparisons of specific salary information.

Make sure to get the following surveys on your calendar, as they will require individual organization participation for the participant discount:

  • Regional Pay
  • Regional Benefits
  • Salary Budget
  • National Business Trends
  • National HR Policies and Benefits

National HR Policies and Benefits is a biannual benefits survey that is conducted nationwide through the Employers Association of America. If you are interested in receiving national benefits data, make sure to get this one on your calendar early!

Also making a comeback in 2020 is the Refineries Pay and Benefits Survey, which was canceled last year due to poor participation, and was moved to a biannual schedule. We are hoping for an excellent turnout this year with more time for organizations to prepare for the survey.

If you would like to be on the contact list of any of the surveys on offer, or if you have any questions, contact McKenna Arnold, Survey and Research Manager, at [email protected].

We look forward to a great year of surveys with you in 2020!


Minimum Wage Planning and Pay Compression

By Lindsay Hill, Director of Compensation Services, and Melanie Williams, Compensation Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]
[email protected]

Image of a Clock Superimposed on Money

The next round of minimum wage increases in Oregon takes place on July 1, 2020. The urban areas of Oregon increase to $12.00 per hour while the Portland metropolitan area increases to $13.25 per hour and nonurban areas increase to $11.50 per hour. Although this seems a ways off it will be here before we know it and you don’t want to be surprised at the last minute.

How did you manage the last minimum wage increases? Did you adjust your pay structure accordingly? Do you now have compensation compression issues? Did this cause other problems with regard to Oregon’s Equal Pay Law?

These are all questions to be considered today and as we move toward another minimum wage increase and increasingly complex pay laws. Having a well-defined pay structure can help with addressing and avoiding compression issues. Without a compensation structure in place, it can be difficult to have a solid understanding of what the market is paying for each role and how each role relates within the organization to one another.

If you have roles that are paying at or below the new minimum wage, start looking at those roles but also roles one level above to avoid pay compression between the two. Having a set pay structure will help you easily identify which jobs will be impacted and which jobs just above those should be analyzed for compression issues. Also be sure to look at employees within the same roles and what impact bringing the lower paid employees up to the new minimum wage will have on those who are currently paid higher, potentially with more tenure, experience, or better performance. With Supervisor and Lead roles you will want to ensure that an acceptable level of differentiation still exists after minimum wage increases for staff employees. Annual increases can be a good time to plan for upcoming minimum wage issues that may arise by allocating dollars to not only those that will be impacted by minimum wage but also up the hierarchical structure.

Keeping ahead of minimum wage increases, new FLSA rules and Oregon’s Equal Pay Law with a strategic and well thought out approach will help you avoid the last minute scramble, allow you time to budget and ensure you are best utilizing your increase dollars. Having an understanding of the market for each role is one of the best ways to avoid compression within your organization.

Cascade can assist you with market pricing, minimum wage planning and ensuring your compensation structure works for your organization.


Five Things You May Not Know About Gilbert House Children’s Museum – Featured Member

By Gayle Gilham, President
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

This nonprofit’s mission is to inspire children to learn through creative play. Did you know...

Gilbert House logo
  1. The Gilbert House Children’s Museum is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) children’s museum connected to downtown Salem’s Riverfront Park. Founded in 1989, Gilbert House Children’s Museum provides innovative and stimulating educational experiences which spark children’s natural curiosity. The museum is designed for children ages 2 to 10, but all exhibits have been designed for children and their grown-ups to play and learn together.

  2. The Museum is named after Salem native, A.C. Gilbert, an extraordinary scholar, inventor, Olympic gold medalist, entrepreneur and magician. An advocate of learning through play, Gilbert was the proud inventor of the Erector Set, the inspiration for the Museum’s giant outdoor Erector Set, the highlight of their 20,000 ft² Outdoor Discovery Area.

  3. In 1918, during World War I, Gilbert testified before the U.S. Council of Defense on behalf of the toy industry after Congress declared a moratorium on the manufacturing of toys. He told Congress that not only were toys valuable learning tools, but they showed the long-term effectiveness of fostering inventiveness, creativity, ingenuity and problem-solving abilities. His philosophy is the inspiration for the Museum’s mission.

  4. The Museum has 16 hands-on exhibits, an Outdoor Discovery Area, camps, field trips, membership opportunities, and educational programs in the sciences, arts and humanities. It’s composed of three historic houses: the Rockenfield House, Gilbert House and Parrish House.

  5. Coming in 2020 is the groundbreaking of the first phase of an innovative nature-based playscape to transform the Museum’s outdoor space. Included in the build is a much-anticipated bubble exhibit, Bill’s Bubble Factory, and additional play opportunities that introduce early learning concepts in physics, chemistry, and the natural sciences. These initiatives are made possible through funding from grants, donors, and business sponsorships.

Cascade is proud to feature Gilbert House Children’s Museum, a leader in providing high quality, hands-on, experiential learning opportunities in science and the arts for children that ignite their imagination and provide essential building blocks for life-long learning.


Hot Compliance Question

By Caitlin Egeck, JD, HR and Compliance Consultant
Cascade Employers Association
[email protected]

Question: My employee showed up to work intoxicated. When we confronted him about his behavior, he admitted that he has a problem with alcohol and asked for leave to go to treatment. I know that leave for treatment can qualify for FMLA/OFLA leave and that it may also be a disability accommodation under the ADA. In this case, do we need to allow the employee to take leave, or can we terminate him for violating our drug and alcohol policy?

Answer: You can terminate this employee.

While alcoholism can be considered a disability under the ADA and leave for treatment could qualify for FMLA/OFLA Leave, an employer can discipline and/or terminate an employee who has workplace performance issues related to their alcohol use. Moreover, an employer with a non-discriminatory alcohol and drug-free workplace policy may terminate an employee for violating the policy, even if the employee asks for leave for substance abuse when confronted with the policy violation.


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Cascade Employers Association

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