From time to time I ask members of MyFirestorm to contribute a guest blog post. I recently asked Seiler & Associates, PLLC to do so. Laws pertaining to business and employment operations have been the subject of many recent legislative changes and judicial modifications. Many have a direct affect on small businesses, including amendments to health care laws, corporate liability, and several employment related laws. Here are a few of the highlights.
- Minnesota employers NEED NOT pay terminated employees for accrued but unused paid time off or vacation time. However, do not institute such a policy without first speaking to an employment law attorney or human resource specialist to learn about prerequisites, exceptions and other thorny details.
- The new Patient Protection Affordable Care Act restricts employers from providing different health benefits to different employee groups. Originally scheduled to go into effect in 2011, enforcement has been postponed (date currently unknown) pending IRS, DOL and DHHS review and guidance.
- An amount of debt forgiven by a creditor is generally treated as income earned by the debtor. For instance, if a person owes $10,000 to a credit card issuer and settles the debt for $6,000, a portion (or all) of the amount forgiven is subject to taxation as income and the person will receive a 1099 from the issuer. However, under The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, the owner of a principal residence (“homestead”) will be relieved of the tax obligation in the event of a foreclosure. The relief may also be available in other situations (such as short sales, loan modifications and other settlements). The relief is only available through 2012 and the procedures, rules, exceptions and limitations are vast. A person seeking relief from taxation should consult with consul and/or his or her tax professional before taking any such action.
- Employees may no longer use money deposited in Flexible Spending Accounts (“FSA’s” or “Cafeteria Plans”) for reimbursement of costs for over the counter medications and other non-prescribed medical items.
- Company owners and officers have been held PERSONALLY liable for the company’s violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (Federal wage, hour and overtime laws).
- The American’s with Disability Act has been revised and modified, providing far broader definitions of several terms, including the definition of “disability.” In addition, the amendments have restricted the use of mitigating circumstances in considering whether someone is disabled.
- The Family Medical Leave Act has also been modified. Provisions concerning leave for military personnel and their families have been implemented, as have new employee and employer notice requirements. There are also new forms which employers must consider when implementing FMLA policies
Seiler & Associates, PLLC is a Minneapolis general practice law firm with specialties in employment law, estate planning, and business law. This article was written by Scott Seiler, Bobbi Dahlstrom, and Jennifer Lange.