NEW FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE - The minimum wage rate will increase to $4.75 an hour on October 1, 1996, and to $5.15 an hour on September 1, 1997.
CLARIFICATION OF COMMUTING RULES - August 1996 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act clarify that time spent by an employee in home-to-work travel in an employer-provided vehicle, or in activities incidental to commuting, is not "hours worked" and therefore does not have to be paid. This provision applies only if the travel is within the normal commuting area for the employers' business and the use of the vehicle is subject to an agreement between the employer and the employee.
FEDERAL HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM - The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HR 3103) became law on August 21, 1996. Most of its provisions will take effect on July 1, 1997. This new law, among other things, will prohibit group health plans and health insurers from excluding preexisting conditions from coverage for longer than 12 months, less any creditable prior coverage. Once covered, a condition cannot be excluded from future coverage. In addition, group plans and health insurers will no longer be able to make coverage dependent on health status, medical condition, claims experience, receipt of health care, medical history, genetic information or disability. This law also amends COBRA provisions, and makes many other changes which you will receive more information about in the future.
ELECTRONIC FEDERAL TAX PAYMENT SYSTEM - The enrollment deadline for the Electronic Funds Tax Payment System (EFTPS) has been extended to July 1, 1997. This program will require employers to make their federal employment tax deposits by electronic funds transfer. Employers may choose to make the transfers by ACH (Automated Clearing House) debit -where the employer directs the EFTPS to collect the payment from the employer's bank - or by ACH credit - where the employer directs its bank to forward the payment to the EFTPS. We will keep you advised as more information becomes available.