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A member asked us: My company is a dual-shop with a portion of my employees operating under collective bargaining agreements. I am looking at requiring my employees to get the now-widely available Covid-19 vaccination before returning to work. Is this permissible? Hilary Atkins, ACCA’s General Counsel, responds: The Coronavirus pandemic has spawned a lot of questions—and a lot of headaches—for employers, who within the past year have needed to adapt to rapidly changing health, regulatory, and technological landscapes. With the long-awaited arrival of a vaccine comes even more questions for employers: Can I require my employees to get vaccinated? Can I require ...
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A member asked us: Can you terminate an employee for falsifying the date that an injury happened? This is my dilemma:  The employee says the accident happened in March.  Two witnesses say it happened in December.  He reported the injury in July.  I have proof by time cards that this injury did not occur in the month of March.  It was impossible for it to occur in March.  The employee is not being honest and has filed a false claim. What is my exposure to risk? Brooke Duncan, from the Brooke Duncan Law firm in New Orleans, LA, responds: You should let your workers compensation carrier know that you believe a false claim has been filed, provide your evidence, ...
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As we have previously blogged, the Biden administration’s Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded the Trump administration’s Jan. 6, 2021, Independent Contractor Rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The DOL’s decision was effective as of May 6. To recap: During the final months of the Trump administration, the DOL fast-tracked an Independent Contractor Rule that adopted a five-part test that purportedly clarified, as opposed to altered, the federal landscape with respect to classification of workers as independent contractors not subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime protections. The DOL’s newly endorsed test – which ...
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As a first step toward the goal of reducing hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) production and consumption by 85 percent over the next 15 years under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed rule that establishes a baseline for HFC consumption and production allowances. You may recall that the AIM Act was passed into law last December as part of the combined government spending and COVID-19 relief package. The allowances established by the EPA’s proposed rule will dictate the total amount of HFCs that companies are able to manufacture or import by year, with the total amount being reduced annually. ...
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Yesterday the Air Conditioning Contractors of America urged leaders in Congress to support the Main Street Tax Certainty Act ( H.R. 1381 and S. 480 ), which would make the 20 percent deduction of  qualified business income (QBI) for small businesses under Section 199A permanent. The Section 199A QBI deduction was included in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) as a way to provide greater parity between small businesses (also referred to as S-corporations or pass-through entities) and typically larger companies (referred to as C-corporations). While the tax cuts for C-corporations were made permanent, the Section 199A QBI deduction for small businesses ...
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This is a brief ACCA scorecard with observations on the first-ever International Code Council (ICC) “virtual codes hearing.”  For the past 3 weeks, the ICC has conducted Code Action Hearings (CAHs) on proposals for the I-Codes covering mechanical, plumbing, building, fire, and fuel gas, plus a few more.  Here are some of the highlights (and lowlights) from yours truly. A2L Refrigerants for Home Comfort Systems – Approved! Various proposals submitted by Daikin US and Chemours were approved with little opposition.  The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) were also co-proponents. ...
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Today ACCA took a step in addressing membership's #1 legislative priority (workforce) by urging Congressional leadership to support greater funding for the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act (Perkins) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The Perkins program is the primary source of federal funding for secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) in the United States. Historically it has been a very popular program that has received broad, bipartisan support. The grants distributed under this program allow students to receive real-world experience in the form of internships and apprenticeships on top of traditional classroom instruction. ...
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When your customers have homes that are cool but uncomfortable, a dedicated dehumidifier is a great tool to solve the problem. Unfortunately, if the dehumidifier is not ducted correctly, or the reasons for high humidity are not addressed, your customer could still be uncomfortable and will also have a higher utility bill.  Background: Dehumidifiers (DHU) produce dry air, but the air is warm, not cool. This is because DHUs have a compressor, evaporator, condenser, and fan. Air passes over the cold evaporator, creating condensate which runs down the drain. The cold, dry air leaves the evaporator then passes over the condenser.  In addition to heat absorbed ...
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Today Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) of the House Committee on Education and Labor announced the launch of a bipartisan effort to reauthorize the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which is the primary federal workforce development legislation in the United States. They held a bipartisan roundtable discussion to discuss challenges and opportunities associated with WIOA reauthorization. They specifically emphasized that the legislation needs to offer workers access to in-demand skills, like those needed to close the growing labor gap in the HVAC-R contracting industry among other trades. ACCA applauds both Representatives ...
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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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A Residential Service & Installation (RSI) accredited contractor can submit projects to ACCA to obtain a Quality Installation (QI) Certificate. The Quality Installation Certificate verifies that an HVAC installation project correctly follows the ACCA QI 5 Standard . It is issued to contractors by ACCA for installing equipment that does not meet ENERGY STAR® efficiency requirements, but is industry recognized. To obtain the Quality Installation (QI) Certificate, an RSI accredited contractor must download the ACCA QI Mobile App and submit a project. Once a project is submitted, the ACCA Technical Services Department will review it for approval. Once ...
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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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