West Virginia’s ‘second chance’ law takes effect July 7

by John R. Merinar, Jr.

The West Virginia Second Chance for Employment Act, which is aimed at encouraging employers to open the doors of opportunity to certain nonviolent criminal offenders, will become law on July 7.

The new law will allow individuals with certain criminal convictions the opportunity to petition the courts to change their records to show a reduction of their offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. The legislation also includes certain protections for employers that hire applicants with criminal convictions.

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Changes to Iowa unemployment benefits coming July 1

by Tara Z. Hall

Several changes related to unemployment benefits in Iowa are set to take effect July 1. The changes are seen as beneficial to employers.

Unemployment and incarceration

An amendment to the Iowa Employment Security Act (IESA) adds a new subsection to the Iowa Code that provides that an employee will be disqualified from receiving benefits if he misses work because of incarceration unless the following four factors are satisfied: read more…

Seattle scheduling law to take effect July 1

by Chelsea Petersen and Stephanie Holstein

An ordinance affecting how large retail and food services employers in Seattle schedule workers is set to take effect July 1.

The ordinance applies to employers in the retail and food services industries (defined broadly to include restaurants, food trucks, bars, and caterers) with 500 or more employees worldwide or, for franchises, within the franchise network. In addition to the 500-employee requirement, full-service restaurants (that is, restaurants where patrons order and are served while seated) are covered by the ordinance only if they have 40 or more physical locations.

Covered employers will have to comply with numerous requirements: read more…

Categories: HR Hero Alerts / Washington

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Iowa workers’ comp changes coming July 1

by Tara Hall and Rebecca Duffy

Changes to Iowa’s workers’ compensation law—changes seen as mostly beneficial to employers—are set to take effect July 1.

The employer-friendly changes to the state’s workers’ comp law include a new provision classifying shoulder injuries as scheduled-member injuries rather than body-as-a-whole injuries, which force an industrial disability analysis. Another change limits compensation for body-as-a-whole injuries to functional disability when the employee returns to work or is offered work at the same or higher pay than he earned at the time of the injury. Another employer-friendly provision places burdens regarding an offer of suitable work on both the employer and the employee.

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All eyes on Philly: Businesses launch second challenge to city’s salary history ban

For a second time, a Philadelphia business group has asked a judge to block the city’s ban on salary history questions, arguing that the law infringes on business’ free-speech rights.

The law also would prevent businesses in the city from keeping pace with competitors, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia said in a statement. “The inevitable consequences will be companies choosing to do business elsewhere and the loss of jobs for city workers.”

The challenge may serve as a test case for similar bans being adopted around the country.

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Los Angeles, San Francisco minimum wages going up July 1

Employers in Los Angeles and San Francisco must prepare to pay higher minimum wages starting July 1.

In the city of Los Angeles and the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, the minimum wage is going to $12 an hour on July 1 for businesses with more than 25 employees, up from $10.50 an hour. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees will have to pay at least $10.50 an hour, up from $10 an hour. Unincorporated areas of Los Angeles are the areas of the county that aren’t governed by local city governments.

San Francisco’s minimum wage will go from $13 an hour to $14 an hour on July 1.

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Paid sick leave laws for Chicago-area workers take effect July 1

by Steven L. Brenneman

Most employers in Chicago and Cook County will be required to offer paid sick leave beginning July 1. The city of Chicago passed a sick leave ordinance last summer, and Cook County (where Chicago is located) passed a nearly identical law in October. The ordinances apply to all businesses that are located in the city or county or are subject to city licensing requirements (except for employers in the construction industry).

The laws require employers, regardless of size, to provide all employees who work at least 80 hours in a 120-day period with one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours of leave per year. Employees are allowed to carry half of their unused accrued paid sick leave (up to 20 hours) to the next year. In addition, employers that are subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must allow FMLA-eligible employees to carry over up to 40 additional hours of accrued paid sick leave to use exclusively for FMLA-qualifying purposes.

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New Tennessee law allows employers to pay employees once a month

by David L. Johnson

On May 11, Governor Bill Haslam signed a new law that gives private employers in Tennessee more flexibility in paying wages and other compensation. The law took effect immediately.

The new law specifies that private employers must pay wages and other compensation only once per month. Companies that issue paychecks once per month must pay all wages earned and unpaid as of the end of the month no later than the fifth day of the next month. In other words, employers can issue employees a paycheck on the fifth day of each month that reflects wages for the entire previous month.

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Judge strikes down Alabama workers’ comp law

by Al Vreeland

In a potentially monumental decision, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Pat Ballard struck down the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act as unconstitutional on May 8.

Specifically, Judge Ballard held that 1989 limits on compensation payments to injured workers and fees for their attorneys were so low that they violated the Alabama Constitution. Currently, compensation payments to an injured employee are capped at $220 per week, no matter how much the employee is paid regularly. Attorneys’ fees are capped at 15 percent of an employee’s award. The judge noted that the compensation payment amount was below the poverty line for a family of four.

The implications are monumental. Although the decision focused on payments and fee caps, the effect would be to strike down the entire Workers’ Compensation Act if the decision holds. If the Act is unconstitutional, employees would be allowed to sue employers for work-related injuries. Employees would be able to recover for medical treatment, pain and suffering, and—potentially—punitive damages.

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New York City freelancer law to take effect May 15

by Zach Morahan and Shannon Kane

New York City’s new “Freelance Isn’t Free Act,” which goes into effect May 15, requires written contracts for many freelance jobs worth $800 or more and provides for stiff monetary remedies if the hiring party tries to avoid paying the freelancer for work performed.

Under the new law, a “freelance worker” means any person or organization composed of no more than one person who is hired as an independent contractor in exchange for compensation. Commissioned sales representatives and attorneys are excluded from the definition of freelance worker. The definition of “hiring party” excludes foreign, federal, state, and local municipalities.

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