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8 State and Local Governments Make HR-Related Regulatory Changes

Emily Hartman /

Every month we breakdown the upcoming legislative and regulatory deadlines about labor and human resources (HR) you need to know. This month, we have updates from Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Washington.

Summary:

Denver, Colo. Starts 3-Year Minimum Wage Increase in 2020

Who: Denver employers

When: January 1, 2020

What:

In late 2019, Mayor Michael Hancock signed a measure that will increase the private-sector minimum wage over the next 3 years. The following rates are:

  • January 1, 2020: $12.85/hr.
  • January 1, 2021: $14.77/hr.
  • January 1, 2022: $15.87/hr.

Tipped employees can be paid $3.02/hr less than the minimum wage. The Spanish language version of the poster will be available March 1, 2020.

How:

  • Review your minimum wage and tipped wage practices to ensure they’re compliant with the new rules.
  • Contact your payroll administrator and ensure that your current pay standards reflect the new minimum wage rules.

Additional Resources:

Denver Labor

Denver Labor Auditors Office

Connecticut: Sexual Harassment Training Released by State Government

Who: All employers with Connecticut employees

When: Effective Immediately

What:

The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities released its online training program that will satisfy the state’s requirements. The training is found here.

The state requires that all employers’ supervisors receive sexual harassment training by October 1, 2020. Employers with 3+ employees must also receive sexual harassment training by October 1, 2020. New employees must get the training within 6 months of their hire date.

How:

  • Review your current sexual harassment training and ensure that it meets the state’s requirements. Note: KPA’s sexual harassment training does meet Connecticut’s requirements.
  • Determine how your organization will meet the training requirements and the October 1, 2020 deadline.

Additional Resource

State of Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities

Washington, D.C.: Notify Employees of DC Paid Family Leave Law

Who: Washington, D.C. employers

When: February 1, 2020

What:

Employers must start distributing the notice of the Paid Family Leave Act to employees and post the Paid Family Leave Notice at each work location in a well-trafficked area. Employers must also send the notice to any remote employees who are covered under the Act.

Employers must inform employees of their eligibility 3 times:

  • Time of hire, if the date is on or after January 1, 2020
  • Once a year, at minimum, starting in 2020
  • Beginning July 1, 2020, when employees ask for leave that might qualify for benefits under the Paid Family Leave Act.

How:

  • Post the Paid Family Leave Notice by February 1, 2020, and provide copies to all new employees. Note that HRDrive is updated with this information.
  • Review and update leave policies and short-term disability to ensure compliance by July 1, 2020, when employees may start accessing benefits.

Additional Resource

Paid Family Leave Employee Notice

New Jersey Bans Workplace Hair Discrimination

Who: New Jersey employers

When: Effective Immediately

What:

New Jersey is the 3rd state in the United States, after California and New York, to ban workplace discrimination of hairstyle.

The law amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination to add “protective hairstyles,” including, but not limited to, braids, locks, and twists. It applies to employees as well as job applicants.

How:

  • Review your dress code/appearance policies to ensure they comply with the new law.
  • Be sure the language is neutral and general, not calling out hair textures or styles associated with racial groups.

Additional Resource

CROWN Act

New Jersey First State to Mandate Commuter Benefits

Who: New Jersey employers with 20+ employees

When: March 1, 2020

What:

Taking effect this March, employers will be required to offer pre-tax commuter benefits to employees who aren’t subject to a collective bargaining agreement.

Employees will be able to allocate wages on a pre-tax basis, which are then made available to employees for the purchase of eligible transportation, like transit passes or highway travel.

Employers who don’t offer this required benefit may be subject to violations between $100 to $250 for the first violation. Employers have 90 days from the first violation date to comply. After that first 90 days, the employer will incur a $250 penalty fee for each 30-day period that it is out of compliance.

How:

  • Consult with legal counsel about the pre-tax transportation fringe benefit program and how to incorporate this benefit into your policies and procedures.
  • Update your employee handbook.
  • Contact payroll services to inform them of changes and allocations.
  • Plan for and implement a communication strategy to inform employees about the new program.

Additional Resource

SB 1567

Cincinnati Bans Salary History Questions

Who: Cincinnati employers with 15+ employees within the city limits

When: March 13, 2020

What:

Under the Prohibited Salary History Inquiry and Use ordinance, Cincinnati employers may not:

  • Ask job applicants about their salary history, request reports, or other information related to salary history.
  • Filter out job applicants based on their salary history.
  • Use salary history as a condition for deciding on employment offers, when deciding on salary, or negotiating a job contract.
  • Refuse to hire or discriminate against an applicant for not disclosing their salary history.

Employers may discuss with applicants their expectations for salary, benefits, and compensation.

How:

  • Review job application policies and forms, as well as any interview guidelines and background, check instructions to make sure they do not include salary history inquiries or screening questions.
  • Educate and train employees or managers involved in the recruiting and hiring process about the changes.
  • If you have multiple locations, determine if your policy changes to accommodate the city’s new law should extend to other locations.

Additional Resource

Ordinance 83-2019

Pittsburgh’s Paid Sick Leave Takes Effect in March 2020

Who: Pittsburgh employers with employees who work 35+ hours/year in the city

When: March 15, 2020

What:

After more than 4 years of delay, Pittsburgh’s Paid Sick Days Act will take effect in March.

The ordinance will cover all full-time and part-time employees, except for state and federal employees, construction union members covered by a collective bargaining agreement, independent contractors, and seasonal employees. The latter group must be notified in writing when they are hired that they won’t work more than 16 weeks for the year.

Employees will accrue at least 1 hour of sick time per every 35 hours they work in Pittsburgh:

  • Employers with 15+ workers, employees will accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time.
  • Employers with less than 15 workers, employees will accrue up to 24 hours of paid sick time.

The accrual rates are done in whole-hour units and not by fractions. Unused sick time will carry to the next year, capping at either 40 or 24 hours, depending on the number of employees within the organization. Employers with fewer than 15 employees can’t pay sick leave until March 15, 2021.

Employers with a paid leave policy that meets the ordinance’s accrual requirements are not required to provide additional sick time.

Employees will start accruing time on March 15, 2020. Employees hired after March 15, 2020, will accrue sick time on their first day of employment, and can access the time off after 90 days.

If employees use sick time for 3 or more days in a row, employers may request proof that the leave falls within the ordinance’s rules. If the leave also falls within the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers can seek proof as ruled by FMLA.

Employers must notify employees about their rights to paid sick time, including the available amount of leave time, and their freedom from retaliation. The Office of the Controller will provide a Notice that must be displayed. Additionally, records of hours worked and time used must be kept for at least 2 years.

How:

  • If you do not offer a minimum paid sick leave, review your policies and procedures, and update them accordingly.
  • Notify employees of their entitlement to sick time, the amount of sick time they will accrue, and the terms of the new law and their rights to file complaints.
  • A poster must be posted in a prominent location and a notice must be given to employees.
  • Contact your payroll software company to discuss sick time accrual recordkeeping and implementation of the changes.

Additional Resources

Pittsburgh Paid Sick Leave Guide

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Paid Sick Leave Notice

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Office of Equity

File 2015-1825 Version 4 Legislation Text

New York Passes Cybersecurity Act

Who: All businesses who collect private information from New York state residents

When: March 21, 2020

What:

The New York Stops Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security (SHIELD) Act expands the state’s data security and breach notification requirements on businesses.

The law outlines a security standard for all employers that includes:

  • Naming at least one employee as the business’s data security program coordinator.
  • Ensuring employers in the data security program are trained on policies and procedures.
  • Assessing risk and employing risk-reducing strategies
  • Screening service providers and ensuring that contracts cover the protection of private information.
  • Securely destroying private information.

There are some exceptions made for small businesses of less than 50 employees that make less than $3 million in gross revenue for the last 3 fiscal years, or less than $5 million per year in total assets. These businesses can scale their programs based on their size.

Failure to implement a data security program could result in civil penalty fees up to $5,000 per violation.

The definition of “private information” has expanded to include biometric information, email addresses, passwords, security questions and answers, financial account numbers that don’t require security codes. These things are in addition to Social Security numbers, driver’s license number, credit card information, and financial account numbers that require security codes.

If employers inadvertently disclose private information, they must document the disclosure and an assessment that the information won’t be misused. This documentation must be kept for 5 years.

If a data breach involves more than 500 New York state residents, the employer must submit documentation to the state’s attorney general (AG) within 10 days. If the employer fails to report to the AG, to $20 for each recoverable penalty per failed notification. It also increases the maximum penalty from $100,000 to $250,000.

How:

  • Determine if your business falls within this law’s parameters.
  • Review and update your current information security program for compliance with the SHIELD Act.
  • If you don’t have a program in place, formulate, and implement a plan with legal counsel and organization leadership that complies with the law.

Additional Resources

S5575B

New York Releases Additional Guidance About Salary History Ban

Who: New York employers

When: Effective Immediately

What:

Although the state’s salary history ban went into effect on January 6, 2020, additional guidance has been published to help employers.

The state has released a Q&A document that clarifies:

  • An applicant is a person who acts during the employment process and is not already an employee of the business, including part-time, seasonal, or temporary workers.
  • If the applicant is already an employee of the business, they may use salary information from the business but may not ask about previous salaries from other employers.
  • Applicants may volunteer salary information if the employer hasn’t prompted the individual.
  • “Optional” questions about salary aren’t allowed.

How:

  • Review job application policies and forms, as well as any interview guidelines and background, check instructions to make sure they do not include salary history inquiries or screening questions.
  • Educate and train employees or managers involved in the recruiting and hiring process about the changes.

Additional Resource

New York Salary History Ban Guidance

Data Breach Law Amended in Washington State

Who: Washington employers

When: March 1, 2020

What:

Amendments to Washington data security and breach law include:

  • Defining “personal information” to include name, date of birth, student and military ID number, passport number, health insurance numbers or medical information, and biometric information.
  • Notifying affected individuals within 30 days instead of 45.
  • If more than 500 residents are affected, then a notice must be sent to the state’s Attorney General within 30 days.
  • Notifications must include the amount of time that the personal information was exposed and the types of information that were compromised.

How:

Review and update your current information security policies and procedures to ensure they’re compliant with the updates.

Additional Resource

HB 1071

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