Tag Archives: Arkansas

NEW LAW: Arkansas Voters Approve Increase of Minimum Wage

Attention Arkansas employers:  On November 6, 2018, Arkansas voters approved Arkansas Issue 5, Minimum Wage Increase Initiative.

As a result of this victory, Araknsas’ minimum wage will gradually increase until it reaches $11.00 per hour in 2021.  The tipped employee minimum wage ($2.63 per hour) will not change.

The exact scheduled increases are as follows:

  • January 1, 2019 — increases to $9.25 per hour
  • January 1, 2020 — increases to $10.00 per hour
  • January 1, 2021 — increases to $11.00 per hour.

All Arkansas employers should prepare for this increase.

2016 Election Aftermath – New Marijuana Laws

Following the 2016 election, voters in seven states (Arkansas, California, Florida, Maine Massachusetts, Nevada, and North Dakota) approved ballot measures relating to the legalization of marijuana. Depending on the state, the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes or for recreational purposes is now (or soon will be legal). The question of all employers in the affected states: “What is the new law and how does this impact my drug policy?”

Medical Marijuana

Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota approved laws that legalize the use of medical marijuana. With the passage of these laws, there are now 28 states (plus Washington DC) with medical marijuana laws.

Recreational Marijuana

Voters in California, Maine Massachusetts, and Nevada approved laws that legalize the use of marijuana for recreational. With the passage of these laws, there are now 8 states (plus Washington DC) with recreational marijuana laws.

While the use of marijuana for any purpose remains unlawful under federal law, these newly passed laws will impact employers in these states. The following articles detail each of the new marijuana laws and the impact on employers:

Is your state contemplating the legalization of marijuana?

Presidential election aside, there is something else equally important to employers on certain electoral ballots. Eight states are contemplating legalizing marijuana either for medicinal purposes or for recreational purposes. Is your state one of the eight who are contemplating this change?

Medical Marijuana Laws

Currently 25 states and DC have laws legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. On November 2, 2016, 3 more states will be subjecting their proposed medical marijuana laws to popular vote. Those states are: Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota.

Should these laws pass, here is how they could impact employers:

  • Arkansas
    • Employers cannot deny a “qualifying patient” “any right or privilege, including but not limited to a civil penalty or disciplinary action by a business or occupational or professional licensing board or bureau, for medical use of cannabis in accordance with [the law].”
    • Employers cannot discriminate against a “qualifying patient” “in hiring, termination, or any term or condition of employment, or otherwise penalize an individual, based upon the individual’s past or present status as a Qualifying Patient.”
    • Employers will not be required to
      • accommodate the use of marijuana in the workplace
      • permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
  • Florida
    • Employers will not be required to permit the use of marijuana in the workplace
  • North Dakota
    • Employers will not be required to permit the use of marijuana in the workplace

Recreational Marijuana

In addition, four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use. On November 2, 2016, 5 more states will be subjecting their proposed medical marijuana laws to popular vote. Those states are: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

Should these laws pass, here is how they could impact employers:

  • Arizona
    • Employers will not be required to
      • Allow or accommodate the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace
      • Permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
    • Employers may still enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees
    • However, an employer cannot discipline an employee for an action solely because the employee tests positive for marijuana in a drug test
  • California
    • Employers will not be required to
      • Allow or accommodate the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace
      • Permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
    • Employers may still enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees and drug free workplace policies
  • Maine
    • Employers will not be required to
      • Allow or accommodate the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace
      • Permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
    • Employers may still enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees
    • However, employers cannot refuse to hire someone solely because that person used marijuana
  • Massachusetts
    • Employers will not be required to
      • Allow or accommodate the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace
      • Permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
    • Employers may still enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees
  • Nevada
    • Employers will not be required to
      • Allow or accommodate the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace
      • Permit an employee to work while under the influence of marijuana.
    • Employers may still enact policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees

Employers in these states should watch the election results carefully and be prepared to make some alterations to their drug policies to ensure they are compliant with any new laws that might be passed.

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.

Increases to State Minimum Wage in 2016 – Is Your Company Affected?

With the start of 2016 just over two months away, employers in several states must begin preparing for the increase to minimum wage that will accompany the ringing in of the New Year.   Check the list below to see if minimum wage is increasing in your state …

Increase effective December 31, 2015

  • New York — Minimum wage increases to $9.00 per hour
  • West Virginia — Minimum wage increases to $8.75 per hour

Increase effective January 1, 2016

  • Alaska — Minimum wage increases to $9.75 per hour
  • Arkansas — Minimum wage increases to $8.00 per hour
  • California — Minimum wage increases to $10.00 per hour
  • Connecticut — Minimum wage increases to $9.60 per hour
  • Massachusetts — Minimum wage increases to $10.00 per hour ($3.35 per hour for tipped employees)
  • Michigan — Minimum wage increases to $8.50 per hour
  • Nebraska — Minimum wage increases to $9.00 per hour
  • Vermont — Minimum wage increases to $9.60 per hour