For many, 2016 has been quite a tumultuous year. People seem especially eager to move on to start those new 2017 calendars. Yet a key issue still lingers: the fate of the Department of Labor Overtime Final Rule – must nonprofits (and others) still prepare to comply or not? While that issue lacks clarity, new minimum wage laws will definitely go into effect on January 1 in multiple states and local jurisdictions. And beyond those laws, nonprofit boards still need to comply with several others. This edition of Nonprofit Knowledge Matters explores these three topics and offers resources and tools for you to use to help your nonprofit bolt into the New Year.
With DOL’s Overtime Rule in Limbo – Now What?
Since the U.S. Department of Labor announced last May that its new Overtime Final Rule would become effective on December 1 and bring raises for about 4.2 million American workers, nonprofits and other employers spent six months dutifully planning how to comply. Then two weeks ago, a federal district judge in Texas surprised proponents and opponents of the new rule by granting an emergency motion and issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking the rule from taking effect. (See the November 23 Special Edition of Nonprofit Knowledge Matters for details.) Then, last week the federal government filed a notice of appeal to challenge that decision. And in the next several days, depending on seemingly innocuous but extremely relevant factors such as whether the appellate court issues an expedited briefing schedule and when precisely this Congress adjourns sine die, other political forces could arise to determine whether the rule survives or gets buried. (Consider signing up for a free subscription to Nonprofit Advocacy Matters to stay up-to-date on further developments.)
What’s up? With all these moving parts, what’s a law-abiding, values-based nonprofit employer to do? Go ahead and implement the non-required changes; unravel job descriptions and revoke pay raises made to comply with a rule that's been blocked; tell employees to stand pat while we all wait for the courts, Congress, and the new Administration to work things out? Or was it all just a colossal waste of time?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Read on for guiding principles that might help.
What’s the Minimum Wage These Days?
To the question “what’s the current minimum wage these days,” it matters more where you are, and when you ask the question, than any form of coherent policy analysis.
Currently, 28 states apply hourly minimum wage rates that are higher than the federally set rate of $7.25 per hour, a rate that Congress has not adjusted since 2009. In 19 of those states, the rate is going up on or before New Year’s Day 2017. Among the new rates, Missouri will see the smallest adjustment, from $7.65/hour to $7.70/hour. Massachusetts and Washington State will reach the highest statewide minimum wage rate in the country of $11.00 per hour, effective January 1. Thanks to a ballot measure passed on election day, Arizona employees will see the biggest jump in the minimum wage, from $8.05 to $10.00 per hour.
A full listing of current state minimum wage rates can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor website. The firm Nonprofit HR has compiled a helpful chart, 2017 Minimum Wage Information, identifying upcoming state-law changes. And the National Employment Law Project provides a useful list of differing minimum wage rates in four dozen local jurisdictions, from Seattle and Los Angeles to New York City and Washington, DC.
12 Board Agenda Items for 2017
Most people like lists. Writing a list gives us comfort that we have not forgotten something important. And it feels positively delightful to check things off the list as they are accomplished!
Well, we’ve got a great list for you. We prepared this Annual Board Tune-up Checklist with a dozen significant tasks that every charitable nonprofit board should pay attention to each year. You can share it with your nonprofit’s board of directors, perhaps putting one item on the agenda each month.
The Annual Board Tune-up Checklist points out core issues that charitable nonprofit boards have in common. Of course, your nonprofit could have – and add – its own unique issues to address throughout the year. Some nonprofits will be facing unusual challenges or opportunities that will require the board’s special attention. Many boards regularly include an educational experience on the meeting agenda so that board members are aware of developments in the community or learn about national trends that impact their nonprofit’s mission. The items we’ve included on the Tune-Up List are important to keep a nonprofit on track with legal requirements and “healthy” – think of it as the healthy nonprofit “annual check-up” list.
In addition to our Annual Board Tune-Up checklist, a few state charity regulators, and many state associations of nonprofits have done your homework for you by producing “best practices” guidance, and/or legal audit checklists. (You may need to be a member of your state association to access to these resources.)
Here’s our Annual Board Tune-up Checklist.
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