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A member asked us: Under the federal labor laws, can we have our sales position be an independent contractor? The individual we have in mind would form his own company to handle our sales leads. He would provide his own car and have his own insurance. Our goal is for the company to be relieved of any liability regarding the individual’s driving, as his record is not the best. Brooke Duncan, from the law firm Adams and Reese in New Orleans, LA, responds: The IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor are skeptical about independent contractor arrangements, especially when the contractor is performing a function that is integral to the business of the company engaging ...
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If an employee, particularly an hourly paid employee, receives and responds to e-mails and/or texts on his/her time after hours, is he/she required to be paid by his/her employer? Does it matter whether it is on a company-paid cell phone or his her/her own phone? Brooke Duncan, from the law firm Adams and Reese in New Orleans, LA, responds: The simple answers are yes and no. Yes, hourly workers should be paid when they answer emails, phone calls, texts, carrier pigeon messages, etc. on their off-time. No, it makes no difference whether the instrument is theirs or their employer's. Now, having said this, the U.S. Department of Labor applies what's known as ...
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Summary: Informal testing results from Trane shows GFCI outlets or disconnects severely effect variable capacity equipment (ECM / brushless rotor motors / inverter technology) .  Single speed and two speed equipment has proven to be less susceptible to nuisance trips. This is good news, but much more work needs to be done. At its April 14, 2021 web-meeting, the ACCA Codes Subcommittee heard an update from a Trane Technologies representative regarding their internal investigation of nuisance trips related to various types of HVAC equipment installed with GFCI protection.  The occurrence of GFCI nuisance trips is becoming more widespread as more jurisdictions ...
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This week, ACCA urged Congress to support the Jumpstart Our Businesses by Supporting Students (JOBS) Act (S. 864/H.R. 2037). This bipartisan, bicameral legislation increases the flexibility of Pell Grants by extending eligibility to short-term job training programs which are in high demand. As you likely know, the skilled trades face a growing labor gap. The HVACR industry is no exception. It is estimated that 115,000 positions will need to be filled in our industry alone over the next 5 years. The short-term credentials highlighted in this bill can dramatically increase earning potential and help stem this labor gap. In addition to strengthening the HVAC-R ...
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Last week, Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation that would incentivize the quality installation of air source heat pumps. The Air Source Heat Pump Act would allow consumers to receive a refundable federal tax credit for 20% of costs, up to $800, associated with the installation of air source heat pumps. The legislation also requires that " ...the air source heat pump... is installed in accordance with the Air Conditioning Contractors of America HVAC Quality Installation Specification (ANSI/ACCA Standard 5 QI–2015) , or a subsequent version approved for this purpose by the Secretary of Energy." Senator King also ...
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Last week it was reported that President Biden's administration is developing a tax plan that would raise $2.1 trillion in federal revenue over 10 years. It would do so by raising the corporate income tax from 21 percent to 28 percent, raising the income tax rate on individuals making more than $400,000 per year, reducing tax preferences on pass-through businesses and limited-liability companies (LLCs), increasing the capital gains tax rate for people making $1 million or more, and perhaps most significantly reducing the death tax threshold from $11.7 million to $3.5 million as well as increasing the death tax rate from 40 percent to 45 percent.  It is unclear ...
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Summary Cool, dry air is what keeps customers comfortable all summer. A properly sized cooling system is better suited to control temperature, but it only removes humidity when the equipment is running. Because of this, a dehumidification system is the best way to control the moisture levels in your customer's home.  However, a dehumidifier will not solve every problem. Consider the source of the humidity before you consider how to treat it. It's shaping up to be warmer than usual summer, and on the gulf coast and eastern seaboard, it's also expected to be wetter than usual .  That warm, damp weather provides the breeding ground for lots of nasty unhealthy ...
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This April the International Code Council’s (ICC) Committee Action Hearings (CAHs) will be held “virtually” for the first time.  This will allow for all affected parties, ICC non-members, contractors, code officials, and others to provide input on proposed code changes.  The 2021 “Group A” code change cycle includes I-Codes covering residential and commercial mechanical, fuel gas, property maintenance, plumbing, and others.  The energy codes will be part of “Group B” in 2022. Two ACCA proposals that are up for CAH deliberation are shown below, as developed by the ACCA Codes Subcommittee.  International Residential Code (Mechanical) – RM1-21 Adds ...
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This week the IRS extended the deadline for individuals to file and pay their taxes from April 15 to May 17, 2021. This means that individuals will not be penalized, regardless of the amount owed, if they file by May 17, 2021 . This postponement applies to individual taxpayers, including individuals who pay self-employment tax. Penalties, interest and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021. Also of note, the IRS extended the deadline to  June 15, 2021 for both individuals and businesses to file federally in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana due to the recent winter storms.  Many individual states have also ...
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A member asked us: My new employee presented two documents to complete Form I-9, each containing a different last name. One document matches the name she entered in Section 1. The employee explained that she had just gotten married and changed her last name but had not yet changed the name on the other document. Can I accept the document with the different name? ACCA’s General Counsel Hilary Atkins responds: You may accept a document with a different name than the name entered in Section 1 as long as the document reasonably relates to the employee. You also may attach a brief memo to the employee’s Form I-9 stating the reason for the name discrepancy, along ...
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Last week the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2021 ( S. 617  &  H.R. 1712 )  was reintroduced by Senate Minority Whip Thune (R-SD)  and Congressmen Smith (R-MO) and Bishop (D-GA) respectively . As you might know, the Death Tax, also known as the Estate Tax, entitles the federal government to 40 percent of estates valued at over $11 million. The Death Tax not only applies to an individuals financials, but also the market value of assets including vehicles, furniture, real estate, tools, equipment, and much, much more. Appraisers have even been known to include client lists as an asset contributing towards the $11 million threshold. It is among the most confiscatory ...
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The federal government will pay 100 percent of COBRA insurance premiums for employees who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, and for their covered relatives, through September, allowing them to stay on their company-sponsored health plan, under the  American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that President Joe Biden signed into law on March 11. When the Senate voted to pass the bill, it increased the government's subsidy to 100 percent of COBRA premiums for laid off workers and covered relatives from April 1 through Sept. 30, 2021, up from an 85 percent subsidy in the House bill. Employers will obtain the subsidy, to be passed along to COBRA enrollees, through a ...
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Thursday afternoon President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion spending bill into law. Several of the most significant provisions included are listed below. HVAC in K-12 In bill includes an additional $130 billion for K-12 schools with the aim of helping them reopen. This money is in addition to the $54.3 billion that was allocated for K-12 schools at the end of 2020. While 20 percent of the $130 billion is allocated for addressing student learning loss, schools have been encouraged to use a portion of the remainder to replace, repair, and improve their HVAC systems . The funding is also targeted at reducing class sizes, buying PPE, and implementing other social ...
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A member asked us: One of our employees suffered a work-related injury several years ago and for various reasons we never reported the injury to our workers’ compensation carrier. Instead, we paid some of the employee’s medical expenses directly but felt like he ought to cover the rest. Now, the employee has hired an attorney who tells us we have to pay all the medical expenses. Our comp carrier is telling us they won’t pay because we didn’t report the injury when it happened. What should we do? Adam and Reese’s Brooke Duncan responds: This scenario demonstrates just how important it is to report all workplace injuries to your workers comp insurance carrier. ...
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This past Friday the Florida House of Representatives passed H.B. 7, Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19 by a mostly partisan vote of 83 to 31. If signed into law, the bill would offer a degree liability protection from COVID-19 related lawsuits for non-healthcare businesses, charities, as well as educational and religious institutions. H.B. 7's passage would be a win for all small businesses and essential workers, including contractors.  The bill states that any COVID-19 related suit must be brought within a year of when the virus was contracted and plaintiffs must also provide a doctor's affidavit stating that "within a reasonable degree of ...
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On Friday ACCA urged Congressional leadership to reject H.R. 842 and S. 420 , the PRO Act. This legislation would rewrite our country’s labor laws in a way that overwhelmingly favors labor unions and threatens the rights of employers and employees alike. Some of the most troubling provisions include: Giving unions the power to demand employers not do business with other non-union companies Giving unions the sole determination over the manner elections are conducted—effectively eliminating secret balloting Eliminates workers’ rights to remove unions that have failed to adequately represent their interests Limiting the ability of businesses and individuals ...
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On March 3, 2021, the International Code Council (ICC) Board of Directors voted to move forward with a new framework to assist governments and building industry stakeholders in meeting energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction goals.  This framework shifts the development of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) from a codes consensus process to a standards committee process meeting the requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The scope and intent of the upcoming IECC process for the 2024 edition (which starts in early 2022) will be updated to reflect the following commitments: The IECC will continue to be updated ...
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A member asked us: I have an employee who wants to wear a shirt that says "Hail Satan. Drink coffee." Do you think this would be considered offensive or inappropriate? We have a very relaxed dress code, but I'm afraid this would push it. Do I allow her to wear it unless someone complains or go with my instinct that says no? We have another employee who wears a shirt that reads "Y'all need Jesus" and I'm afraid I will set a double standard by allowing that and not this. Thoughts?! Thanks!! ACCA’s General Counsel Hilary Atkins responds: Sounds like great time to update your dress code if it doesn't already address this type of attire or situation. You would ...
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A member asked us: What is our worker’s comp exposure for an accident involving an employee who was injured while mountain-bike riding at a company-sponsored retreat? Adams & Reese’s Brooke Duncan responds: Even if the retreat was for pleasure and attendance was voluntary, it is likely the injury will be considered work-related. You might want to check with your insurance agent for clarification of coverage under your policy. DISCLAIMER This response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion, nor is this column a substitute for formal legal assistance. For help with particular ...
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