OSHA has issued a new memorandum clarifying the responsibilities of host employers and staffing agencies. Employees, in this memorandum, are classified as "workers hired and paid by a staffing agency and supplied to a host employer to be 'joint employees'." The host employer typically has primary responsibility for determining the hazards in its workplace and complying with worksite specific requirements. The staffing agency has the responsibility to ensure that it isn't sending workers to sites where they are not protected or face hazards that they have not been trained to avoid. OSHA inspectors have been instructed to review any written contracts between the staffing agency and the host employer to determine whether the agreement addresses responsibilities for employee safety and health.
President Obama has launched a new program to ensure that large corporations pay small contractors in a more timely fashion to increase cash flow through the supply chain. Westinghouse Electric Co., IBM. Apple and Salesforce are among the 25 companies that have agreed to pay their small business contractors faster under the new Obama plan called Supplier Pay. The voluntary program is modeled after QuickPay and has the goal of paying small-business contractors within 15 days and will help “small businesses free up capital to invest and hire new workers.” Westinghouse President and CEO Daniel Roderick said prioritizing payments for small businesses “helps them grow and become long-term suppliers.” Roderick said, “Overall it’s just a fundamental corporate responsibility to develop small companies that hopefully grow into big companies,” noting that large business, like Westinghouse, started as a small business as well. Roderick noted one obstacle to paying businesses quicker is getting money from overseas ventures, and called for strengthening of import-export banks.
The Department of Labor held an Industry Roundtable discussion focusing on the importance of apprenticeships in the manufacturing industry sector. The meeting was held in Chicago on June 19. US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez was at the event, encouraging companies to apply for the $100 million in apprenticeship funding available through the American Apprenticeship Grant. The Secretary explained that the goal of the Obama Administration is to double the number of registered apprenticeships from the current 375,000 level in order to combat the skills gap taking place in manufacturing. Other manufacturers who were present at the event discussed efforts to revive apprenticeship programs at their own factories, and several other nonprofit organizations focused on apprenticeship programs were on hand to discuss their efforts. This is the fifth roundtable held. Previous roundtables foucsed on transportation and logistics, healthcare, construction and energy industry sectors.
The Massachusetts State Senate has voted to raise the state’s minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2017. The bill is expected to be approved by the House of Representatives next week, and the governor has already indicated he would sign it if it reaches his desk. The bill also includes a provision that freezes unemployment insurance rates in place for three years, and does not tie the new wage to inflation.
On Monday, June 3rd, the Seattle City Council raised the local minimum wage to $15 per hour, which is more than double the federal minimum wage. Schedule 1 Employers, those with over 500 employees, must offer a minimum wage of $11.00 an hour effective April 1, 2015; $13.00 an hour Jan. 1, 2016 and $15.00 an hour Jan. 1, 2017. However if Schedule 1 employers contribute towards an employee’s health benefits, then the increases are as follows:
- 2016 -- $12.50 an hour
- 2017 -- $13.50 an hour
- 2018 -- $15.00 an hour
Schedule 2 employers, those with fewer than 500 employees, must offer a minimum wage of $10.00 per hour effective April 1, 2015. Effective Jan. 1, 2016, and each year thereafter, the hourly minimum wage is as follows:
- 2016 - $10.50
- 2017 - $11.00
- 2018 - $11.50
- 2019 - $12.00
- 2020 - $13.50
- 2021 - $15.00
- 2022 - $15.75
- 2023 - $16.50
- 2024 - $17.25