Category Archives: Rhode Island

New Laws Effective July 1, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aside from the minimum wage increases, there are a number of new laws coming into effect on or after July 1, 2018.

State New Law
California SB 3 – Amends California’s paid sick leave law and extends California paid sick leave benefits to qualifying in-home supportive services (IHSS) workers.

Effective July 1, 2018

AB 1978 (California Property Service Workers Protection Act) – Requires all janitorial employers register with the DLSE on an annual basis.  Further requires all janitorial employers will also be required to maintain records with basic employee data (e.g. names and addresses, daily hours worked, wage information, and other conditions of employment) for three years and to educate their employees about the unlawfulness of sexual harassment and how to combat it.

Effective July 1, 2018

FEHA Regulations 2 CA ADC § 11027.1 & 2 CA ADC § 11028 – Expands California’s national origin protection regulations to include provisions regarding:

• a broad definition of national origin;
• language-restriction policies and English-only policies;
• accents;
• height and weight requirements
• immigration status

Effective July 1, 2018

Cal-OSHA Regulations – Amended to include a standard on “Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention” and requires affected employers to establish, implement, and maintain an effective musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP) that addresses hazards specific to housekeeping.

Effective July 1, 2018

Colorado HB 1229 — Expands state workers’ compensation law to clarify the definitions of “psychologically traumatic event” and “serious bodily injury.” This allows allow first responders to apply for mental impairment claim under Colorado workers’ compensation law after a “psychologically traumatic event.”

Effective July 1, 2018

Georgia HB 673 (Hands-Free Georgia Act) — Requires drivers (including employees driving for work purposes) to use hands-free technology when using cell phones and other electronic devices while driving.

Effective July 1, 2018

Idaho HB 527 — Provides that for purposes of the state’s labor and employment laws, a franchisor is not an employer or co-employer of either a franchisee or an employee of the franchisee, unless the franchise agreement of the courts state otherwise.

Effective July 1, 2018

SB 1287 — Amends the state noncompete law so that a company seeking injunctive relief against a “key” employee or independent contractor must establish a likelihood of irreparable harm before an injunction can be issued.

Effective July 1, 2018

HB 466 — Exempts minors working for immediate family members from Idaho’s minimum wage laws.

Effective July 1, 2018

Indiana HB 1286 — Provides that marketplace contractors are considered independent contractors under all Indiana state and local laws if certain conditions are met.

Effective July 1, 2018

SB 290 — Imposes new time frames for completing certain tasks and changes the way penalties are assessed for failing to maintain worker’s compensation insurance coverage on an employer’s workers.  It also extends the renewal period for Second Injury Fund wage replacement benefits from 150 weeks to three years.

Effective July 1, 2018

Iowa HF 2383 — Lowers the minimum alcohol concentration that can be considered a violation of an employer’s written policy providing for alcohol testing from 0.04 to 0.02

Effective July 1, 2018

HF 2240 — Allows employers to provide employees with wage statements by electronic means.  Employers may still provide wage statements via mail or make them available at the employees’ normal place of employment during normal business hours.

Effective July 1, 2018

Maryland SB 134 (Small Business Relief Tax Credit Bill) — Authorizes a tax credit against the State income tax for certain small businesses that provide to qualified employees paid earned sick and safe leave.

Applicable to tax years beginning after December 31, 2017

Massachusetts S.2119 (Massachusetts Act to Establish Pay Equity) — Amends the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act to clarify what constitutes unlawful wage discrimination and further strengthens the existing law by adding protections to ensure greater fairness and equity in the workplace.

Effective July 1, 2018

Mississippi SB 2459 – Extends military leave rights to members of the armed forces of any state (previously protected military leave rights were only provided to members of the US or Mississippi Armed Forces).

Effective July 1, 2018

New Hampshire HB 1319 (An Act Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Gender Identity) — Amends the New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination and prohibits employer discrimination because of an individual’s “gender identity.”
Effective July 8, 2018
New Jersey SB 104 (Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act) — Amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to expand its equal pay protections to all “protected classes.  Specifically, it prohibits, among other things, payment to any employee who is a member of a “protected class” at a rate of compensation, including benefits, which is less than the rate paid to employees who are not members of the protected class for substantially similar work.

Effective July 1, 2018

Oklahoma State Question 788 — Legalizes marijuana use for medical purposes in Oklahoma. Forbids employers from penalizing persons for holding a medical marijuana license unless failing to do so causes a loss of benefits under federal law. Allows employers to penalize license-holders who possess or use marijuana while at work.

Effective July 26, 2018

Oregon SB 828 (Predictable Scheduling Law) — Requires large employers (500+ employees worldwide) in food service, hospitality, and retail industries provide new employee with estimated work schedule and to provide current employee with seven days’ notice of employee work schedule.

Effective July 1, 2018

HB 2017 – Requires employers to withhold and remit 0.1% (one-tenth of one percent) of an employee’s wages to fund public transit projects throughout the state.  Applies to (1) all wages paid to any employee who is an Oregon resident, regardless of where he or she works and (2) all wages paid to any employee who is an Oregon resident, regardless of where he or she works.

Effective July 1, 2018

Rhode Island H.5413 (Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act) – Requires Rhode Island employers to provide sick leave benefits to eligible employees.  For employers with 17 or fewer employees, the sick leave benefits are unpaid; while for employers with 18+ employees the sick leave benefits are paid.

Effective July 1, 2018

South Dakota SB 62 — Requires an employer to disclose a data breach within 60 days of discovering it to any South Dakota resident whose personal or protected information was or is reasonably believed to have been acquired by an unauthorized person.

Effective July 1, 2018

Tennessee SB 1967 — Provides that marketplace contractors are considered independent contractors under all Tennessee state and local laws if certain conditions are met.

Effective July 1, 2018

Vermont H.294 – Amends the Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act and prohibits employers from making salary history inquiries during the hiring process.

Effective July 1, 2018

H.333 — Requires all single-user bathrooms in public buildings or places of public accommodation to be marked as gender-neutral.

Effective July 1, 2018

H.511 — Legalizes the use (and possession) of marijuana for recreational purposes.  However, the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes does not create any employment-related protections.

Effective July 1, 2018

H.707 — Makes numerous changes to Vermont’s laws related to sexual harassment, including:

·         Requires that a working relationship with a person hired to perform work or services be free from sexual harassment;

·         Prohibits employment contracts from containing provisions that prevent an employee from disclosing sexual harassment or waive an employee’s rights or remedies with respect to a claim of sexual harassment;

·         Prohibits agreements to settle a sexual harassment claim from including provisions that prevent an employee from working for the employer or an affiliate of the employer in the future;

·         Requires an agreement to settle a claim of sexual harassment to state that it does not prevent the employee from reporting sexual harassment to an appropriate governmental agency, complying with a discovery request or testifying at a hearing or trial related to a claim of sexual harassment, or exercising his or her right under State or federal labor law to engage in concerted activity for mutual aid and protection; and

·         Permits the Attorney General or Human Rights Commission to inspect a place of business or employment for purposes of determining whether the employer is complying with the law related to sexual harassment

Effective July 1, 2018

Virginia HB 146  — Extends the rights regarding (i) leaves of absence from nongovernmental employment, (ii) reemployment, and (iii) employment nondiscrimination that are currently provided to members of the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force and residents of Virginia who are members of the National Guard of another state to any person who is a member of the National Guard of another state who is employed or seeking employment in Virginia.

Effective July 1, 2018

HB 1527 — Requires state and private employers to allow officers or employees who are volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol to provide “Civil Air Patrol Leave” on all days during which such officer or employee is (i) engaged in training for emergency missions with the Civil Air Patrol, not to exceed 10 workdays per federal fiscal year, or (ii) responding to an emergency mission as a Civil Air Patrol volunteer, not to exceed 30 workdays per federal fiscal year.

Effective July 1, 2018

SB 672 – Amends Virginia’s mini-COBRA law to exclude covered employees terminated for gross misconduct.

Effective July 1, 2018

HB 1293 — Increases the penalty for failing to file quarterly unemployment wage or tax reports from $75 to $100.

Effective July 1, 2018

Wyoming HB 0010 — Limits workers’ compensation coverage of nonresident (out-of-state) employers.

Effective July 1, 2018

 

 

New Laws Effective in 2018

Aside from the minimum wage increases, there are a number of new laws going into effect in the new year.

While many of these have been addressed in detail in previous articles, the following is a summary of the new laws/regulations that may be going into effect in your state …

State New Law
California AB 46 – Amends the California Equal Pay Act to define “employer” to include public and private employers.

Effective January 1, 2018

AB 168 – Adds §432.3 to the California Labor Code, which prohibits employers from inquiring into and relying on an applicant’s salary history during the hiring process.

Effective January 1, 2018

AB 260 & SB 225 – Makes two changes the Human Trafficking required notice: (1) additional businesses (including hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns) are required to post the notice and (2) the notice must include a text number to access support and services.

Effective January 1, 2018

AB 450 – Employers are prohibited from providing ICE agents with access to their worksite and/or records without a warrant.

Effective January 1, 2018

AB 1008 – Amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to include a “ban-the-box” provision, which prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history before the employer has made a conditional offer of employment.

Effective January 1, 2018

AB 1701 – Adds §218.7 to the California Labor Code, which requires direct contractors to assume liability for unpaid wages, benefits, and/or contributions owed by its subcontractors.

Effective January 1, 2018

AB 1710 – Expands protections to members of the military and veterans by prohibiting employers from discriminating against these individuals in the terms and conditions of employment.

Effective January 1, 2018

SB 63 (New Parent Leave Act) – Requires employers who employs 20+ employees within 75 miles of a worksite provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.  Employers are not required to provide this leave to employees who are eligible for CFRA and FMLA.

Effective January 1, 2018

SB 258 (Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017) – Requires employers who are required to make a safety data sheet readily accessible to its employees also provide employees with information regarding exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in designated cleaning products.

Effective January 1, 2018

SB306 – Authorizes the DLSE to commence an investigation of an employer, with or without a complaint being filed, when retaliation or discrimination is suspected during the course of a wage claim or other specified investigation being conducted by the Labor Commissioner.

Effective January 1, 2018

SB396 – Amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to require employers with 5+ employees post a notice in the workplace regarding transgender rights.  Also requires employers with 50+ employees to include harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation in their anti-harassment training programs.

Effective January 1, 2018

Connecticut HB 7037 – Requires employers to provide information regarding child support garnishments to their workers’ compensation carrier when making an initial report of occupational illness or injury to the carrier.

Effective January 1, 2018

Delaware HS 1 — Prohibits employers from inquiring into and relying on an applicant’s salary history during the hiring process.

Effective December 14, 2017

Hawaii SB 1007 – Changes the reporting frequency of withheld income tax from monthly reporting to quarterly reporting for all employers.

Effective January 1, 2018

Illinois SB 318 – Prohibits employers from (1) using (or requiring an applicant/employee provide) genetic information in employment decisions (2) discriminating against an employee because of genetic information or testing, or (3) retaliating against an employee who refuses to disclose genetic information.

Effective January 1, 2018

SB 1895 – Prohibits employers from disciplining or terminating an employee who also serves as a volunteer emergency medical services personnel or as a volunteer firefighter by his or her employer for responding to an emergency call or emergency text message during work hours that requests the employee’s volunteer emergency medical services or volunteer firefighter services.

Effective January 1, 2018

Maine LD 1477 – Requires the Department of Labor and the Maine Human Rights Commission develop and make available a training guide setting forth the sexual harassment training requirements for employers’ use and increases the penalties imposed on employers for violating the notice and sexual harassment training requirements.

Effective November 1, 2017

LD 88 – Delayed the effective date of certain portions of the Maine Marijuana Legalization Act until 2/1/2018.

Effective February 1, 2018

Massachusetts HB 3680 (Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act) – Prohibits workplace and hiring discrimination related to pregnancy and nursing, and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for expectant and new mothers in the workplace.

Effective April 1, 2018

SB 2119 – Amends the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act by (1) requiring employers to provide “equal pay” for “comparable” work, (2) prohibiting inquiries into an applicant’s salary history.

Effective July 1, 2018

Nevada AB 76 – Amends the existing law to remove the requirement that the Central Repository provide certain criminal history information to employers and repeals certain immunities previously provided to employers.

Effective January 1, 2018

SB 361 – Requires Nevada employers to provide employees who are victims of domestic violence with up to 160 hours of domestic violence leave in a 12-month period.

Effective January 1, 2018

New York SB 2543 – Extends the anti-smoking provisions of Public Health Law § 1399-n (which prohibits smoking in certain public areas) to include “vaping” and the use of e-cigarettes.

Effective November 22, 2018

AB A9006C & SB 6406 – Requires employers to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of Paid Family Leave in a 12-month period for qualifying reasons.

Effective January 1, 2018

North Carolina SB 407 (Employee Fair Classification Act) – Creates the Employee Classification Section within the Industrial Commission, which will be responsible for investigating suspected employee misclassification.  Also requires employers post notice relating to employee misclassification.

Effective October 1, 2017

Ohio Admin. Code 4141-11-01 – Requires employers provide all quarterly contribution and wage reports electronically.

Effective January 1, 2018

Oregon HB 3008 — Prohibits employer from requiring employee to create, file or sign documents containing information that employer knows is false related to hours worked or compensation received by employee.

Effective January 1, 2018

SB 299 – Amends the Oregon paid sick leave law to allow employers to limit number of hours of sick time that employees may accrue per year.

Effective January 1, 2018

SB 769 – Enhances protections for the privacy of social security numbers by prohibiting persons (including employers) from disposing of (or transferring to another person for disposal) materials that display an individual’s Social Security number unless (1) before disposing of the material, the person makes Social Security number unreadable or unrecoverable or (2) the person ensures that person that ultimately disposes of media or material makes Social Security number unreadable or unrecoverable.

Effective January 1, 2018

SB828 — Requires large employers in specified industries (employers with 500+ employees in retail, hospitality, and food services) to provide new employee with estimated work schedule and to provide current employee with seven days’ notice of employee work schedule.

Effective July 1, 2018

Rhode Island HB 5182 & SB 175 — Prohibits the use of a non-hands-free personal wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle, except for public safety personnel or in an emergency situation

Effective June 1, 2018

HB 5413 & SB 290 (Paid Sick Leave Law) — Requires employers with eighteen (18) or more employees to provide three (3) paid sick days in 2018, four (4) paid sick days in 2019 and five (5) paid sick days thereafter.

Effective July 1, 2018

SB 676 — Creates a statutory vehicle for the creation and functioning of workers’ cooperatives which are corporations that are owned and democratically governed by their members.

Effective January 1, 2018

Utah SB 249 — Requires employers to file a quarterly withholding return in an electronic format

Effective January 1, 2018

Vermont HB 136 — Requires employers provide a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s pregnancy-related condition, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer.

Effective January 1, 2018

HB 462 — Prohibits employers from requiring, requesting, or coercing an employee to provide a social media account username or password, or to present or divulge social media content to the employer. Also prohibits employers from requiring or coercing an employee to add the employer to his or her list of contacts for a social media account.

Effective January 1, 2018

Virginia HB 1646 & SB 1333 – Reduces the maximum portion of an employee’s disposable earnings subject to garnishment.

Effective July 1, 2018

Washington Initiative No. 1433 (Paid Sick Leave Law) – Requires employers to provide paid sick leave to eligible employees.

Effective January 1, 2018

2018 MINIMUM WAGE CHECK-UP

With various cities and counties having enacted local minimum wages and 18 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, New Jersey, New York*, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington) are increasing their own minimum wages on January 1st (December 31st for New York), employers should take time to verify that they are meeting the minimum wage requirements of their state/city/county.

The below chart sets forth the minimum wage effective January 1, 2018.

employer PAYS $1.50/hr towards medical benefits$11.91

Federal $7.25
State City/County  Amount?
Alabama  $7.25
Alaska*  $9.84
Arizona* — all cities/counties except …  $10.50
Flagstaff* $11.00
Arkansas  $8.50
California* — all cities/counties except …                                  small employer (25 or less) $10.50
large employer (26 or more) $11.00
Berkeley  $13.75
Cupertino* $13.50
El Cerrito*  $13.60
Emeryville                                           small employer (55 or less) $14.00
large employer (56 or more) $15.20
Los Altos* $13.50
Los Angeles                                         small employer (25 or less) $10.50
large employer (26 or more) $12.00
Malibu                                                  small employer (25 or less) $10.50
large employer (26 or more) $12.00
Milpitas* $12.00
Mountain View* $15.00
Oakland $12.86
Palo Alto* $13.50
Pasadena                                             small employer (25 or less) $10.50
large employer (26 or more) $12.00
Richmond*                                             employer does NOT pay $1.50/hr towards medical benefits $13.41
employer PAYS $1.50/hr towards medical benefits $11.91
Sacramento*                                      small employer (100 or less) $10.50
large employer (101 or more) $11.00
San Diego $11.50
San Francisco $14.00
San Jose* $13.50
San Leandro $13.00
San Mateo*                                                 For-profit organizations $13.50
Non-profit organizations $12.00
Santa Clara* $13.00
Santa Monica                                       small employer (25 or less) $10.50
large employer (26 or more) $12.00
Sunnyvale* $15.00
Los Angeles County                            small employer (25 or less)

unincorporated areas                            large employer (26 or more)

$10.50

$12.00

Colorado* $10.20
Connecticut $10.10
Delaware $8.25
Florida* $8.25
Georgia $7.25
Hawaii* $10.10
Idaho $7.25
Illinois — all cities/counties except … $8.25
Chicago $11.00
Cook County

(except for the Village of Barrington)

$10.00
Indiana $7.25
Iowa $7.25
Kansas $7.25
Kentucky $7.25
Louisiana $7.25
Maine* — all cities/counties except … $10.00
Portland $10.68
Maryland — all cities/counties except … $9.25
Montgomery County $11.50
Prince George’s County $11.50
Massachusetts $11.00
Michigan* $9.25
Minnesota* — all cities/counties except … “small employers” (employers with an annual sales volume of less than $500,000) $7.87
“large employers” (employers with an annual sales volume of $500,000+) $9.65
Minneapolis                                         large employer (101 or more) $10.00
Mississippi $7.25
Missouri $7.85
Montana* $8.30
Nebraska $9.00
Nevada $8.25
New Hampshire $7.25
New Jersey* $8.60
New Mexico — all cities/counties except … $7.50
Albuquerque*                                             employer provides benefits $7.95
employer does NOT provide benefits $8.95
Las Cruces* $9.45
Santa Fe $11.09
Bernalillo County*unincorporated areas                                             employer provides benefits $7.85
employer does NOT provide benefits $8.85
Santa Fe County unincorporated areas $11.09
New York**  “Upstate” employers (excluding fast food employees) $10.40
“Downstate” employers (excluding fast food employees) $11.00
“Small” NYC employers (excluding fast food employees $12.00
Fast food employees outside NYC $11.75
“Large” NYC employers (excluding fast food employees) $13.00
Fast food employees inside NYC $13.50
North Carolina $7.25
North Dakota $7.25
Ohio* $8.30
Oklahoma $7.25
Oregon — all cities/counties except … $10.25
Portland $11.25
Nonurban Counties 

(Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klmath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa Wheeler counties)

$10.00
Pennsylvania $7.25
Rhode Island* $10.10
South Carolina $7.25
South Dakota* $8.85
Tennessee $7.25
Texas $7.25
Utah $7.25
Vermont* $10.50
Virginia $7.25
Washington* — all cities/counties except … $11.50
City of SeaTac* (hospitality and transportation workers) $15.64
Seattle* $14.00
small employer who does not pay towards medical benefits

(500 or less)

small employer who does pay towards medical benefits

(500 or less)

$11.50
large employer who does not pay towards medical benefits

(501 or more)

$15.00
large employer who does pay towards medical benefits

(501 or more)

$15.45
Tacoma* $12.00
Washington DC $12.50
West Virginia $8.75
Wisconsin $7.25
Wyoming $7.25
 * = increase in minimum wage effective January 1, 2018

** = increase in minimum wage effective December 31, 2017

 

Caveat: Please be advised that this information is being provided as a courtesy and that ePlace Solutions, Inc. does not track local laws and ordinances and will not update this information with changes in local laws and ordinances.

 

 

NEW LAW – Rhode Island Enacts Paid Sick Leave Law

On September 28, 2017, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act (H5413) into law.  This new law requires most Rhode Island employers provide paid sick leave to their employees.

Starting July 1, 2018, Rhode Island employers who employ 18 or more employees will be required to start providing employees with paid sick leave.

With the enactment of the Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act, Rhode Island joins Oregon, California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Vermont, Washington, and Connecticut as states that provide paid sick leave to employees. (Washington DC and numerous cities in the US also require employers to provide paid sick leave benefits).

Who is covered by the Rhode Island Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act?

All Rhode Island employers who employ 18 or more employees will be required to provide employees with paid sick leave.

Are any employees excluded from paid sick leave?

While the law generally covers all employees, the following types of employees are excluded from coverage:

  • Individuals not considered employees under the Rhode Island Minimum Wage Act (e.g., outside salespeople, golf caddies, certain seasonal resort employees);
  • Independent contractors;
  • Subcontractors;
  • Federal work-study participants; and
  • Licensed nurses employed by a health care facility on a per diem basis.

How much paid sick leave must be provided?

Starting July 1, 2018, eligible employees of Rhode Island employers will start accruing paid sick leave. Paid sick leave benefits will accrue at a rate of 1 hour for every 35 hours worked by the employee. For new employees, accrual begins on the first day of employment.

For the first three years of paid sick leave, the minimum amount of paid sick leave employees must be allowed to accrue (and use) per year increases as follows:

  • 2018 – employees must be allowed to accrue 24 hours per year
  • 2019 – employees must be allowed to accrue 32 hours per year
  • 2020 (and beyond) – employees must be allowed to accrue 40 hours per year

Instead of tracking annual accrual, employers will be allowed to “frontload” an employee’s paid sick leave allotment on either a monthly or annual basis (i.e. provide an employee with the full sick leave allotment at the start of the year or a proportional amount at the start of the month).

When the accrual method is used, accrued but unused leave must be carried over to the following year.  If paid sick leave is frontloaded, then employers do not have to allow employees to carryover unused, accrued paid sick leave.

When are employees eligible to use paid sick leave?

The new sick leave law imposes a 90-calendar day waiting period before a newly hired employee can use paid sick leave benefits. This means that for employees who have been employed by the employer for more than 90 days as of July 1, 2018, those employees will be eligible to use their paid sick leave benefits as those benefits are accrued.

The law also imposes a 150-calendar day waiting period before seasonal employees (those hired into a position for which the customary annual employment is six months or less) can use paid sick leave benefits and a 180-calendar day waiting period before temporary employees (those working for, or obtaining employment per an agreement with, any employment agency, placement service, or training school or center) can use paid sick leave benefits.

What can paid sick leave be used for?

Under the new law, an employee will be able to use his/her paid sick leave benefits for the following purposes:

  • An employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • An employee’s need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • An employee’s need for preventive medical care;
  • Care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • Care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition;
  • Care of a family member who needs preventive medical care;
  • Closure of the employee’s place of business by order of a public official due to a public health emergency
  • An employee’s need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency,
  • Care for oneself or a family member when it has been determined by the health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care provider that the employee’s or family member’s presence in the community may jeopardize the health of others because of their exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the employee or family member has actually contracted the communicable disease; or
  • Time off needed when the employee or a member of the employee’s family is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Under the law, family member is defined as the employee’s

  • Child (biological, adopted, or foster son or daughter, a stepson or stepdaughter, a legal ward, a son or daughter of a domestic partner, or a son or daughter of an employee who stands in loco parentis to that child),
  • Parent (biological, foster, or adoptive parent, a stepparent, a legal guardian, or other person who stands in loco parentis to the employee or the employee’s spouse or domestic partner when he/she was a child),
  • Spouse or domestic partner
  • Parent-in-law” (the parent of the employee’s spouse or domestic partner),
  • Grandparent (parent of the employee’s parent),
  • Grandchildren
  • Sibling (brother or a sister, whether related through half blood, whole blood or adoption, a foster sibling, or a step-sibling),
  • Care recipient, or
  • Member of the employee’s household.

What are the employee’s notice requirements before using paid sick leave?

When the use of paid sick leave is foreseeable, employees are required to provide notice of the need for such time to the employer in advance of the use of the paid sick leave.  Employees are also required to make a reasonable effort to schedule the use of paid sick leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.

When the use of paid sick leave is not foreseeable, employers may develop a written policy that contains procedures for the employee to provide notice of his/her need to use paid sick leave. However, an employer that has not provided to the employee a copy of its written policy for providing such notice shall not deny earned paid sick leave to the employee based on non-compliance with such a policy.

Can employers require that employees provide documentation verifying their need for paid sick leave?

Yes, for absences exceeding three days, an employer may require verification that an employee’s use of paid sick leave is for an authorized purpose if the employer has notified the employee in writing of this requirement in advance of the employee’s use of paid sick leave. An employer may not require that the documentation explain the nature of the illness or the details of the domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking unless required by existing government regulation or law.

Finally, an employer may require written documentation for an employee’s use of earned sick time that occurs within two (2) weeks prior to an employee’s final scheduled day of work before termination of employment.

What type of documentation is considered “reasonable documentation”?

For paid sick leave absences not relating to domestic violence, “reasonable documentation” is any documentation signed by a health care professional indicating that paid sick leave time is necessary.

For paid sick leave absences relating to domestic violence, “reasonable documentation” is any one of the following:

  • An employee’s written statement that the employee or the employee’s family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and that the leave taken was for that purpose;
  • A police report indicating that the employee or employee’s family member was a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
  • A court document indicating that the employee or employee’s family member is involved in legal action related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or
  • A signed statement from a victim and witness advocate affirming that the employee or employee’s family member is receiving services from a victim services organization or is involved in legal action related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Are employers required to pay out unused paid sick leave at termination of employment?

No, employers are not required to pay out unused, accrued paid sick leave at termination of employment.  However, if an employee is rehired within 135 days of separation by the same employer, previously accrued paid sick and safe leave time that had not been used must be reinstated.

What should Rhode Island employers do to prepare for the new law?

Rhode Island’s new Paid Sick Leave Law goes into effect on July 1, 2018. In order to prepare for this new law, employers should prepare paid sick leave policies and plan to include those policies in their 2018 Employee Handbook. In addition, employers with existing sick leave or PTO policies should check their policies to verify that they are compliant with this new law. We will keep you posted about this law as it draws closer to the effective date.

 

NEW LAW – Rhode Island’s Minimum wage to increase January 1, 2018

Rhode Island employers, mark your calendars.  On January 1, 2018, Rhode Island’s minimum wage will increase from $9.60 per hour to $10.10 per hour.

This increase will be followed by another increase on January 1, 2019 from $10.10 per hour to $10.50 per hour.

The minimum wage rate for tipped employees will remain the same at $3.89 per hour.

It is recommended that all Rhode Island employers prepare for these increases.

New Medical Marijuana Case Impacts Rhode Island Employers

In a recent decision (Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics Corp.), the Rhode Island Supreme Court has held that under Rhode Island law, an employer cannot refuse to hire a medical marijuana cardholder, even if the applicant admits during the interview that he/she will not be able to pass the employer’s mandatory pre-employment drug test.

The Case

In this case, the plaintiff had applied for a paid internship with Darlington Fabrics. During a meeting with the company’s Human Resources Coordinator, she informed the Human Resources Coordinator that she had a medical marijuana card. At this meeting, the plaintiff also signed Darlington’s Fitness for Duty Statement, acknowledging she would have to take a drug test prior to being hired.

In a subsequent conversation with the Human Resources Coordinator, the plaintiff was asked if she was currently using medical marijuana and the plaintiff responded “Yes.” The plaintiff then indicated that because of her medical marijuana use, she would test positive on her pre-employment drug screening.

In response, the Human Resources Coordinator informed the plaintiff that a positive drug test would “prevent the Company from hiring her.” The plaintiff then told the Human Resources Coordinator that she was allergic to many other painkillers and that she would neither use marijuana in or bring it to the workplace.

 

Following that conversation, the Human Resources Coordinator called the plaintiff and told her that the company was “unable to hire her.” The plaintiff sued the company under the Rhode Island medical marijuana law, the Hawkins-Slater Act, as well as the state’s disability discrimination statute, for refusing to hire her.

 

The Court’s Ruling

The ruling in this case centered on the Court’s interpretation of two separate provisions of the Hawkins-Slater Act:

“No school, employer, or landlord may refuse to enroll, employ, or lease to, or otherwise penalize, a person solely for his or her status as a cardholder.” 

and

“Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require … [a]n employer to accommodate the medical use of marijuana in any workplace.”

Based on the above-quoted language, the Court found that the statute does, in some way, require employers to accommodate the medical use of marijuana outside the workplace. Specifically, the Court found that the Hawkins-Slater Act prohibits employers both from refusing to employ a person for his or her status as a cardholder, and also from refusing to hire an applicant because of his/her use of medical marijuana.

In practical application, the Court believed that by finding the action the company took (rejecting an applicant because she would be unable to pass the pre-employment drug test due to her medical marijuana use) was lawful, such a finding would void the protections afforded to medical marijuana users under the law because a patient who, by virtue of his or her condition, has to use medical marijuana once or twice a week in a worse position than a recreational user. The recreational user could cease smoking long enough to pass the drug test and get hired, and subsequently not be subject to future drug tests, allowing him or her to smoke recreationally to his or her heart’s content. The medical user, however, would not be able to cease for long enough to pass the drug test, even though his or her use is necessary to “treat or alleviate pain, nausea, and other symptoms associated with certain debilitating medical conditions.”

With respect to the plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim, the court held that discrimination could be shown “against a class of disabled people — namely, those people with disabilities best treated by medical marijuana.” It also held that medical marijuana users are able to bring a state law disability discrimination claim, despite that: (1) the law disclaims protections to those who seek remedies based on his or her illegal drug use; and (2) marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Take home for employers

This new holding complicates things for Rhode Island employers who conduct drug testing for marijuana. An employee’s off-duty use of medical marijuana may cause the employee to test positive on a workplace drug test because marijuana may stay in the fatty tissues of the body for weeks. Rhode Island employers who conduct any form of drug need to consider the marijuana laws affecting their workplaces and how they will handle the question before an actual issue arises.

Employer Dos and Don’ts for Elections

In a previous article (Does Your State Require Voting Leave?), we broke down which states require employers to provide employees with time off to vote. In addition to these voting leave laws, many states have other laws in place that regulate what employers can, and more importantly, what an employer cannot do with respect to an election.

Below is a summary of the applicable laws for each state:

Alabama Employers may not:

·         Use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election and

·         Seek to examine an employee’s ballot.

Alaska Employer may not threaten to inflict damage, harm, or loss to induce an employee to vote or refrain from voting in an election.
Arizona Employers may not

·         Coerce employees to support (or not) a referendum or recall;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Arkansas Employers may not use threats or efforts to intimidate individuals with respect to whether and how they choose to vote.
California Employers may not

·         Prevent an employee from participating in politics;

·         Direct the political activities or affiliations of an employee; or

·         Threaten to discharge an employee for engaging or refusing to engage in certain political activity.

Colorado Employers may not

·         Threaten to discharge employees because of their political party affiliation;

·         Create or enforce a policy to prevent an employee from participating in politics; or

·         Discharge an employee for voting in an election or advocating for a particular candidate or political viewpoint while off duty.

Connecticut Employers may not discipline or discharge employees for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Delaware Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Florida Employers may not

·         Discharge or threaten to discharge employees for how they voted in an election.

·         Use coercion to get an employee to register to vote or support a certain candidate.

Georgia Employers may not

·         Coerce employees to support (or not) a recall;

·         Use threats or efforts to intimidate individuals with respect to whether and how they choose to vote.

Hawaii Employers may not use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election.
Idaho Employers may not use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election.
Illinois Employers may not

·         Use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election

·         Keep records relating to employees’ off-duty political activities, unless the employee gives authorization and/or provides those records to the employer

·         Punish an employee for his off-duty use of “lawful products” (which could include comments made on social media).

Indiana Employers may not

·         Coerce employees to support (or not) a referendum or recall;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Attempt to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Iowa Employers may not use coercion to get an employee to register to vote, to support a certain candidate, or to sign a petition.
Kansas Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Kentucky Employers may not

·         Use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election

·         Distribute any materials stating that employees are expected to vote for a particular candidate; or

·         Attempt to induce employees to vote a certain way in a state election.

Louisiana Employers may not

·         Threaten to discharge employees or otherwise intimidate employees because of their political party affiliation;

·         Allow an employee’s political contributions to affect his employment (including compensation)

Employers with 20+ employees may not

·         Prevent employees from participating in politics;

·         Control employees’ political activities or affiliations; or

·         Threaten to discharge employees if they support certain political parties or activities

 

Maine No laws relating to politics in the workplace
Maryland Employers may not

·         Influence employees’ voting activity through intimidation or bribery;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace

Massachusetts Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Michigan Employers may not

·         Use coercion (e.g. Threatening to discharge an employee; reducing an employee’s compensation or benefits; punitively changing an employee’s schedule or job description; reducing compensation) to influence an employee’s vote in an election

·         Keep records relating to employees’ off-duty political activities, unless the employee gives authorization and/or provides those records to the employer or the records pertain to activities that took place at work

Minnesota Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Mississippi Employers may not interfere with the political rights of employees.
Missouri Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his or her political activity or

·         Prevent employees from engaging in political activities.

Montana Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Nebraska Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity or

·         Close the business as a result of election results.

Nevada Employers may not

·         Prohibit employees from engaging in politics or serving in public office

·         Punish an employee for his off-duty use of “lawful products” (which could include comments made on social media).

New Hampshire Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
New Jersey Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees;

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace; or

·         Require employees to attend employer-sponsored political meetings.

New Mexico Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
New York Employers may not punish an employee for his off-duty political activities.
North Carolina Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Punish an employee for his off-duty use of “lawful products” (which could include comments made on social media).

North Dakota Employers may not punish an employee for his off-duty political activities.
Ohio Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity; or

·         Attempt to influence an employee’s political beliefs.

Oklahoma Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Oregon Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Pennsylvania Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Rhode Island Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

South Carolina Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
South Dakota Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Tennessee Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Distribute materials intended to coerce employees to vote in a certain way

Texas Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Utah Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity;

·         Include with employees’ paychecks any statements to influence the political opinions or actions of employees; or

·         Display any notice within 90 days before an election that attempts to influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Vermont Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
Virginia Employers may not

·         Require employees to donate money to political action committees as a condition of employment; or

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.

Washington Employers may not

·         Interfere with an employee’s efforts to support or oppose a political effort

·         Use payroll contributions or salary increases for the purposes of funding political activities; or

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.

Washington DC Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.
West Virginia Employers may not

·         Require employees to donate money to political action committees as a condition of employment; or

·         Influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Wisconsin Employers may not

·         Coerce any employee with respect to his political activity; or

·         Influence employees to support (or not) a particular candidate by stating that if a candidate succeeds, there will be consequences in the workplace.

Wyoming Employers may not coerce any employee with respect to his political activity.

 

Does Your State Require Voting Leave?

With the 2016 Election under three weeks away (Tuesday, November 8, 2016), employers should anticipate that employees will request time off to vote. Depending on the state, an employer may be required to provide voting leave to an employee.

The below table shows which states provide voting leave and which states do not.

No Voting Leave Provided Unpaid Voting Leave Paid Voting Leave
·         Connecticut ·         Alabama ·         Alaska
·         Delaware ·         Arkansas ·         Arizona
·         Florida ·         Georgia ·         California
·         Idaho ·         Kentucky ·         Colorado
·         Indiana ·         Massachusetts ·         Hawaii
·         Louisiana ·         Mississippi ·         Illinois
·         Maine ·         New Mexico ·         Iowa
·         Michigan ·         North Dakota ·         Kansas
·         Montana ·         Ohio ·         Maryland
·         New Hampshire ·         Wisconsin ·         Minnesota
·         New Jersey   ·         Missouri
·         North Carolina   ·         Nebraska
·         Oregon   ·         Nevada
·         Pennsylvania   ·         New York
·         Rhode Island   ·         Oklahoma
·         South Carolina   ·         South Dakota
·         Vermont   ·         Tennessee
·         Virginia   ·         Texas
·         Washington   ·         Utah
·         Washington DC   ·         West Virginia
    ·         Wyoming

In states where voting leave is required, state law dictates the conditions under which voting leave must be provided, if at all. The laws also set forth the amount of time that an employee must receive for this type of leave. As demonstrated above, depending on the state, the leave may be paid or unpaid.

It is recommended that all employers check the voting leave laws in their states prior to election day and provide training to managerial employees on compliance with this law.

State Minimum Wage Increases for 2017

2017 is just around the corner and, as you are busy ringing in the New Year, the minimum wage in several states will be increasing.  Is minimum wage increasing in your state?

The below table lists the states who have announced a minimum wage increase for 2017:

Minimum Wage as of November 18, 2016 Scheduled Increase for January 1, 2017
(Dec. 31, 2016 in New York)
Arizona $8.05 1/1/17 increases to $10.00
$5.05 for tipped employees increases to $7.00 for tipped employees
Arkansas $8.00 1/1/2017 – increases to $8.50
$2.63 for tipped employees minimum wage for tipped employees remains $2.63
California* $10.00 1/1/2017 – increases to
~ $10.50 (for employers with 26 or more employees)
~ Remains at $10.00 for employers with 25 or fewer employees
Colorado $8.31 1/1/17 increases to $9.30
$5.29 for tipped employees increases to $6.28 for tipped employees
Connecticut $9.60 1/1/2017 – increases to $10.10
$6.07 for restaurant and hotel employees who regularly receive tips increases to $6.38 for restaurant and hotel employees who regularly receive tips
$7.82 for bartenders who regularly receive tips increases to $8.32 for bartenders who regularly receive tips
Florida $8.05 1/1/17 increases to $8.10
$5.03 for tipped employees increases to $5.08 for tipped employees
Hawaii $8.50 1/1/2017 – increases to $9.25
$7.75 for tipped employees increases to $8.50 for tipped employees
Maine* $7.50 1/1/2017 – increases to $9.00
$3.75 for tipped employees increases to $5.00 for tipped employees
Massachusetts $10.00 1/1/2017 – increases to $11.00
$3.35 for tipped employees increases to $3.75 for tipped employees
Michigan $8.50 for employers with 2 or more employees 1/1/2017 – increases to $8.90
$3.23 for tipped employees increases to $3.38 for tipped employees
Montana $8.05 for employers with gross annual sales over $100,000.00 1/1/2017 – increases to $8.15 for employers with gross annual sales over $100,000.00
$4.00 for employers with gross annual sales of $100,000.00 or less minimum wage for employers with gross annual sales of $100,000.00 or less remains $4.00
New Jersey $8.38 1/1/2017 – increases to $8.44
$2.13 for tipped employees increases to $2.13 for tipped employees
New York $9.00 for all employees but fast food employees 12/31/2016 – increases to
$7.50 for all tipped employees ~ $9.70 for “Upstate” employers (excluding fast food employees)
$9.75 for fast food employees only Minimum wage for tipped employees remains $7.50
~ $10.00 for “Downstate” employers (excluding fast food employees)
Minimum wage for tipped employees remains $7.50
~ $10.50 for “small” NYC employers (excluding fast food employees)
Minimum wage for tipped employees remains $7.50
~ $10.75 for fast food employees outside NYC
~ $11.00 for “large” NYC employers (excluding fast food employees)
Minimum wage for tipped employees remains $7.50
~ $12.00 for fast food employees inside NYC
Ohio $8.10 for employers with more than $297,000 in gross annual revenue 1/1/2017 – increases to $8.15 for employers with more than $299,000 in gross annual revenue
$4.05 for tipped employees increases to $4.08 for tipped employees
$7.25 for employers with less than $297,000 in gross annual revenue Remains at $7.25 for employers with less than $299,000 in gross annual revenue
Rhode Island $9.60 1/1/2017 – minimum wage remains $9.60
$3.39 for tipped employees increases to $3.89 for tipped employees
South Dakota $8.55 1/1/2017 – increases to $8.65
$4.275 for tipped employees increases to $4.325 for tipped employees
Vermont $9.60 for employers with 2 or more employees 1/1/2017 – increases to $10.00
$4.80 for tipped employees minimum wage for tipped employees remains $4.80
Washington* $9.47 1/1/2017 – increases to $11.00

* Please be advised that there are cities and/or counties in this state that have passed a local minimum wage rate that is higher than the state minimum wage. Please contact an HR Professional to determine if the cities/counties in which you operate have passed a local minimum wage.

In addition to the above-listed states, the following states may adjust their minimum wage for 2017 to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index:

  • Alaska — will increase to $9.80 on January 1, 2017
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • Washington DC

As these states announce whether their minimum wages will increase in 2017, we will let you know.

What can employers do?

If minimum wage is increasing in your state, employers need to take steps to ensure that all employees are paid at least minimum wage (at the new rate) before the increase is effective.

 

DOL Partnership regarding worker misclassification — 34 States and Counting

Thirty-five states have agreed to “team up” with the US Department of Labor to investigate worker misclassification. Is your state one of them?

In 2015, Department of Labor launched an initiative to combat the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. As a part of this initiative, the Department of Labor sought to partner with the state agencies and agree to share information and conduct joint investigations regarding independent contractor misclassification. To date, 35 states have entered into a memorandum of understanding regarding worker misclassification issues.

These states are:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

What does this mean for employers in these states?

Employers in the above-listed states should expect collaborative efforts between their state agencies and the Department of Labor during a investigation into potential employee misclassification as the state and the Department of Labor will share information. This could lead to simultaneous, multi-agency investigations into worker classification. It is recommended that companies have qualified legal counsel review any existing independent contractor arrangements. In addition, before entering into an independent contractor relationship, speak with an HR Professional or qualified legal counsel to verify that the worker truly is an independent contractor.