No summer vacation for employers facing new July 1 laws

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It’s summer time and the living is easy…except for those employers who are working overtime to comply with new state and local employment laws and ordinances effective July 1. Here’s an overview of some of the new employment laws.

Sick Leave Laws

  • Arizona earned paid sick leave law - Arizona’s new earned paid sick leave law is effective July 1, 2017. Under this law, Arizona employees will begin accruing hours that can be used for personal and family sick leave. Employers with more than 15 employees must offer at least 40 hours of accrued hours per year. Employers must display the new Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act notice.
  • Chicago paid sick leave ordinance - Under the Chicago paid sick leave ordinance, effective July 1, 2017, covered employees who work at least 80 hours within any 120-day period are eligible to accrue paid sick leave. A covered employee can begin to use paid sick leave no later than the 180th calendar day following the start of employment (or the law’s effective date). A covered employee is entitled to use no more than 40 hours of paid sick leave per 12-month period, unless the employer sets a higher limit. Certain sick time carry over provisions apply depending on the size of the employer. Employers are not, however, required to pay unused sick time when the employment ends.

    The new ordinance includes two key notice requirements. Employers must: 1) post a notice at each Chicago facility, in a conspicuous place, advising covered employees of their right to sick leave under the ordinance (link available at Chicago posting); and 2) provide a notice that advises covered employees of their rights with the first paycheck subject to the ordinance.
  • Cook County earned sick leave ordinance - Also effective on July 1, 2017 is the Cook County earned sick leave ordinance providing for paid sick leave for employees working in Cook County. The County’s ordinance largely follows Chicago’s by allowing employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked and to accrue a maximum of 40 hours (or 5 days) of paid sick leave per year. The County ordinance applies to employers of all sizes and to any employee who has worked at least 80 hours within any 120-day period for the same employer.

    The Cook County ordinance allows home rule cities within the county to opt out of coverage. At this point, 80 of 131 cities in Cook County have opted out. Like the Chicago rule, covered employers must post a notice (link available here: County posting).
  • Minneapolis and St. Paul sick leave ordinances - Following the trend, the Minneapolis and St. Paul sick leave ordinances go into effect on July 1st. Under these rules, employees must receive at least one hour of sick/safe time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. Employees can accrue up to 80 hours of sick/safe time in their “bank,” which they can carry over from year to year.

    Employers who provide sufficient leave via an existing policy (e.g., PTO or sick leave policy) can continue to use that policy as long as the existing policy complies with the notice and procedural rules in the ordinances. These ordinances also require a variety of other actions, including employee handbook revisions to provide notice of employee rights.
  • Georgia sick leave use - Meanwhile, Georgia has a new sick leave provision effective July 1st with a slightly different twist. The law does not require that employers provide sick leave at all. But for those employers with 25 or more employee who do provide sick time, the employer must allow employees to use up to five earned sick days per calendar year to care for an immediate family member.

Minimum Wage and Scheduling Rules

  • Chicago and Cook County minimum wage increase - In addition to the new paid sick time rules, employers in Chicago and Cook County must implement new minimum wage rates on July 1, 2017. The new minimum wage in Chicago is $11 per hour and the Cook County minimum wage is $10 per hour.
  • California cities minimum wage increases - Various California cities also have minimum wage increases effective July 1, 2017, including Pasadena at $12 per hour for larger employers and $10.50 for smaller employers, San Francisco at $14 per hour, and San Jose at $12 per hour.
  • Seattle secure scheduling ordinance - A workplace issue gaining attention at the local level is predictive scheduling for employees in the retail, food services, and hospitality industries. Seattle joins this trend with its July 1st Secure Scheduling Ordinance. Seattle’s new rule applies to large retail and food service employers and requires a good faith estimate of the median hours an employee can expect to work, two weeks’ advance notice of schedules, and certain compensation for schedule changes.

Background Check Rules

  • California criminal history use rule - The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s new regulations limiting employers’ ability to consider criminal history when making employment decisions took effect on July 1, 2017. The regulations prohibit employers from using criminal records and information in any employment decisions if: 1) such use would have an adverse impact on individuals in a legally protected class; or 2) the applicant or employee is able to demonstrate an effective and less discriminatory way of achieving the specific business necessity.
  • Vermont ban the box law - Effective July 1, Vermont joins the growing list of states that prohibit employers from asking criminal history questions on job applications. Vermont employers may still ask about criminal history during a job interview or later in the hiring process and are not prohibited from conducting background checks.

Employer Takeaways

For covered employers, note that many of these state and local rules require changes to written policies and some carry fines and penalties for non-compliance. Covered employers should consult counsel to ensure that they are effectively complying with these new requirements.

For employers who aren’t covered by these new laws, don’t get too comfortable. These rules each touch on trending employment issues that your city or state may address soon.

No doubt once employers have complied with these laws, they’ll be ready for a vacation.
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