LABOR LAW NEWS
Answered in Detail: Your Employment Law Questions
By Kris Janisch, with Jana Bjorklund
Published Aug. 15, 2019
Several questions were generated during our recent webinar, 2019 Mid-Year Employment Law Update. The presenter, Jana Bjorklund, GovDocs’ Director of Employment Law and Senior Counsel, provides the answers.
Employment law is complex. And our recent webinar covered several topics in a short 45-minute window.
The July 30, 2019, webinar covered:
- Marijuana use under current employment laws
- The latest on paid leave
- The #MeToo movement’s impact on employment law
- DOL opinion letters on FLSA compliance
- Minnesota’s new wage theft law
We received several questions during our webinar. And given the short timeframe, we did not have the time to provide answers to all the questions. The presenter, Jana Bjorklund, GovDocs’ Director of Employment Law and Senior Counsel, provides the answers below.
If you want to check out the full webinar, you can access it online. For a webinar recap, check out our blog.
On to the questions!
Marijuana use and Employment Questions
HR Generalist: How do the new state marijuana laws interact with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 for federal contractors?
Bjorklund: Although there are numerous states enacting laws legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
The laws passed recently legalizing marijuana discussed in the webinar do not require an employer to violate any federal law or take action that would result in the loss of any licensing related benefit under federal law, the loss of a federal contract or federal funding.
HR Director: Regarding legalized marijuana in Illinois and drug testing: are you required to give notice to all current employees or just new incoming employees?
Bjorklund: Illinois does not have a notice requirement outlined within its new laws regarding marijuana use and positive drug tests.
New Jersey is the state we indicated has a notice requirement. Any applicants or employees who test positive for marijuana must receive a notice from the employer regarding their right to explain the results. The applicant or employee must then have three days to provide a legitimate medical explanation. The notice is required to applicants and employees after they have been tested and only those who test positive.
Paid Leave Questions
Benefits Manager: When it comes to paid leave in Nevada, what is considered an “eligible employee”? And can it be taken as a combination of both sick time and vacation time?
Bjorklund: The new paid leave requirements stated in Nevada Senate Bill No. 312 raise several questions, as the bill does not include many definitions.
While the bill does not define “employee,” it does specifically exempt “temporary,” “seasonal,” and “on-call employees” from paid leave benefits. Again, there are no definitions in the bill for these terms, either.
Regarding your question about whether this can be a combination of both sick time and vacation time, the bill indicates the employee “may use paid leave available for use by that employee without providing a reason to his or her employer.” As such, it can be used for either sick time or vacation or both and the employee does not have to tell the employer the reason for the leave when it is taken.
Statutory Research Compliance Specialist: Do you know what the effective date is for Pittsburgh’s paid sick leave law will be following the state Supreme Court decision?
Bjorklund: The exact date when employers in Pittsburgh need to provide the required paid sick leave has not been set yet.
This is, in part, because the city’s Commission on Human Relations must pass and publicize regulations for employers and allow them 90 days from that point to be compliant. Even though the regulations have not been passed and publicized yet, it is advisable for employers to start preparing now for compliance with the paid sick leave requirements for covered employees within the City of Pittsburgh.
Associate legal counsel: For Maine paid sick time, in calculating “employer” is it 10 or more employees in Maine, or 10 employees regardless of location so long as there are employees that are in Maine?
Bjorklund: The specific language of the statute for the Maine paid leave law states as follows: “An employer that employs more than 10 employees in the usual and regular course of business for more than 120 days in any calendar year shall permit each employee to earn paid leave based on the employee’s base pay as provided in this section.” (26 MRSA sec. 637. Earned Paid Leave)
Minnesota Wage Theft Law Questions
HR Director: For Minnesota’s wage theft law, what if your payroll provider does not have the ability to put the required information on a pay stub?
Bjorklund: The requirements for the new information on the Minnesota wage statements went into effect on July 1, 2019.
The responsibility for compliance with the law will fall on the employer — even if the employer uses a provider to issue wage statements to their employees. You may want to consider some other means to include the required information to your employees along with the wage statements until your provider can comply, or consider a new provider who can meet these requirements.
HR Generalist: Does the notice for Minnesota’s new wage theft law apply to temps?
Bjorklund: Yes, if the temporary worker is your employee. The law applies to all employers and they are responsible for compliance with the law’s requirements for each of their employees. An “employee” is defined in the statue as “any individual employed by an employer.”
Regulatory and compliance manager: For Minnesota’s wage theft law, does the employee need to sign a document acknowledging a change, i.e. pay?
Bjorklund: The statute is silent on whether the updated notices need to be signed. We reached out to the Minnesota Department of Labor and their response was, “Employers are not required to have employees sign changes to the information in the written notice but it would be a good practice to do so.”
HR generalist: With the Minnesota wage theft law, can the information that has to be provided to employees be included in an offer letter? Or should it be its own separate document?
Bjorklund: Under the new Minnesota wage theft law, the notice requirement for new employees is not required in any specific format.
The notice just needs to contain the information required under the new law and be signed by the employee. The Minnesota Department of Labor has provided a sample form notice for employers to use, which can be located online.
Alternatively, employers may create their own document to provide the required notice as long as it contains all the requirements. Please note there is also a language requirement connected with this notice that requires employers to provide the notice in one of several languages if requested by the employee.
VP of HR Operations: We have a large population of remote employees. How are we required to handle them with regard to labor law posters?
Bjorklund: Specifically, the answer to your question may vary state by state and will be dependent upon where your remote workers are located.
We do have a couple options at GovDocs for remote employees, which includes electronic posters and binders of the requisite postings for remote locations. Our webinars are not usually used to solicit our products, but if you want us to connect you with a sales associate, we can help.
(Note: Find request-for-information forms on GovDocs’ product pages.)
This Labor Law News Blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.
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