News and Analysis
Minimum Wage Increase and Record Keeping Implementation Passes Legislature
. The Ohio House formally accepted the Ohio Senate version of HB 690, which implements Ohio’s Fair Minimum Wage Amendment. The final version has been sent to Governor Taft for his signature. He is expected to sign the bill today, December 21. The new legislation will become effective 90 days after the Governor signs it. Until effective, the broad language of the Amendment applies and, in order to provide the most protection against liability, we recommend:
(a) paying all employees at least $6.85/hour (except those specifically listed otherwise in the Amendment) starting on January 1, 2007;
(b) requiring all employees to record hours worked for each day worked; and
(c) contacting counsel regarding any request for records under the Amendment.
Here is a brief overview of this important new legislation:
(1) Minimum wage is $6.85/hour effective 1/1/07 and future (possible) annual increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index.
(2) Those employees who are currently excluded or exempted from the minimum wage requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (e.g. certain executives, administrators, professionals, IT employees) will also be excluded or exempted from this legislation once it takes effect, and employers will not be required to keep records of their hours worked.
(3) With respect to the records employers are required to maintain, employers must keep those records for three years from the date the hours were worked and for three years after the date the employee’s employment ends. Practically, therefore, an employer may have to keep the last three years worth of an employee’s records for an additional three years after that employee’s last day of employment.
(4) An employee, or person acting on the employee’s behalf, can request the particular employee’s records (but not records of other employees in the company without their express, written authorization).
(5) A “person acting on behalf of an employee” who requests an employee’s records is limited to (a) a certified or legally recognized collective bargaining representative, (b) the employee’s attorney, or (c) the employee’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian.
(6) Employers must provide the requested records in whatever form they maintain them within 30 business days after the employer receives the request, unless a different time period is agreed upon or unless the 30-day period would cause an undue hardship on the employer, in which case the employer must provide the requested records as soon as practicable.
(7) Employers will have an immunity defense for providing records requested under the Legislation.
The proponents of the Amendment have indicated that they intend to challenge the constitutionality of this legislation when it does become effective (or before). For at least the next several months, therefore, there will be much uncertainty surrounding these issues and employers should continue to stay tuned.
Q & A: Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Ballot Issue
With its backers filing petitions this week, a ballot issue mandating 7 days of paid sick leave comes closer to reality. It is time for manufacturers to get a detailed understanding of the proposal and its costly effects. Bricker & Eckler’s employment and labor practice has prepared a bulletin for that purpose.
Ohio’s Proposed Pregnancy Leave Rule: Status Report
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission’s proposed new pregnancy leave rules have received a lot of press lately. For an overview of what all the fuss is about and the current status of the proposed rules, take a moment to check out the attached bulletin. From OMA Connections Partner, Bricker & Eckler
Facts About the Ohio Healthy Families Act
If enacted, the Ohio Healthy Families Act may have profound–and costly–effects on your business. Among other things, it requires that employers with 25 or more employees grant 7 days of paid sick leave to every full-time employee. Learn more about this Act in the attached client bulletin which is set up in an easy-to-follow Question and Answer format. From OMA Connections Partner, Bricker & Eckler
Petitions Submitted To Require Paid Sick Leave
A labor-led coalition seeking a new Ohio law to require employers to provide at least seven paid sick days per year will file petitions today containing nearly 270,000 signatures – more than double the legal requirement of 120,683 – with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.
Since most manufacturers already offer their employees at least seven days of paid sick leave, manufacturers are concerned about the administrative burden of revising attendance policies and reduced flexibility to customize benefits for their employees’ needs.
“Many manufacturers offer employees strategic benefit packages that include time off for sick days, as well as other forms of personal time off,” said OMA President Eric Burkland. “If passed, this proposal will require manufacturers to tinker with good decisions they have already implemented.”
If a sufficient number of signatures are validated by the Secretary of State, the proposed statute will be introduced in the General Assembly in early 2008. If the Legislature fails to enact a bill within four months, the coalition could collect another 120,683 signatures to put the issue on the November 2008 ballot.
Maternity Leave Rule On Hold For Now
A legislative panel returned a proposed rule submitted by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to expand maternity leave coverage for Ohio employers. The proposed rules would have the effect of treating women effected by pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions more favorably than other employees with disabilities.
The Joint Committee on Agency Rule and Review (JCARR), chaired by state Rep. Ross McGregor (R-Springfield) ruled on a 9-1 vote that the Civil Rights Commission failed to consider the fiscal impact of the rule change and returned it to the Commission with orders to refile after 90 days.
“The OMA applauds JCARR’s bipartisan action on this rule change,” said OMA Managing Director of Public Policy Services Ryan Augsburger. “We will continue to work on behalf of Ohio manufacturers with members of the Civil Rights Commission to address this important issue in a more appropriate manner.”
Civil Rights Commission Ignores Governor’s Request for Delay
This week, the commission voted to advance its rules to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) in the face of Governor Strickland’s request to delay the rule. Strickland wants time to ensure the rules are responsive to concerns raised by the business community. See story.
FLSA Fact & Fiction
FLSA Fact & Fiction: Due to a staffing shortage, your company has experienced a backlog of customer service business. The associates who work in the customer service unit are non-exempt (they are eligible for overtime), are paid an hourly rate of pay and are scheduled to work eight hours per day, five days per week, with two 15 minute paid rest breaks and a 30 minute unpaid lunch period.:07/02/07 restricted to OMA members. From Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP
OMA Urges Invalidation of Maternity Leave Mandate
Recently, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission adopted a rule that would mandate 12 weeks of maternity leave. The rule would also require employers to offer pregnant women other benefits, such as eligibility for “light duty” assignments and “modified work programs.” The rule would prohibit an employer from placing a pregnant woman on limited job duties or alter her job duties without “an objective, verifiable safety justification.”
“This is an over-reaching action by an administrative agency substituting its judgment for that of the legislature,” said Kevin Schmidt, OMA Director of Public Policy Services. “Manufacturers are committed to providing the best possible competitive benefits to employees. It’s hard enough today to do this. This rule will make managing operations and providing good benefits even harder in Ohio.”
The OMA, together with the National Federation for Independent Business-Ohio, has asked the legislature’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) to invalidate the rule.
In a letter to JCARR, the organizations note: “Even a minor change to the state’s employment laws can have a profound impact on NFIB and OMA members. (This rule) is much more than a minor change. It is a significant departure from existing law…”
Senate Considers Legislation Threatening ERISA Pre-Emption
Legislation dubbed by supporters as the “Health Care Simplification Act” (House Bill 125) is currently pending in the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite the benign title, the bill could have significant implications on health plans currently governed by federal ERISA law.
The legislation impacts provider contracting with insurers and employers by standardizing contract terms between providers and health plans. Critics of the bill have expressed concern that the bill may also regulate self-insured (ERISA) companies. House sponsors have indicated their intent that state law regulate self-insurers in addition to fully-insured health plans. The legislation, if enacted, could lead to increased health care costs and opens new concerns over duplicative regulation for ERISA plans.
This week, the issue of “self-insurer applicability” will be examined by the committee and legal scholars on both sides of the issue will offer testimony. Committee Chairman, Senator David Goodman (R – New Albany) has invited comments from concerned parties. Concerned manufacturers are encouraged to engage directly with members of the Senate panel.
Further hearings are expected before the end of the year. Contact the OMA’s Ryan Augsburger to learn more.