State and Local Law Updates

One of the most difficult things for human resource professionals to do is to keep up with changing State and local laws related to leaves and discrimination. Below is a brief summary of some new laws of interest:

California: California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing has issued guidance for employers of transgender employees. The guidance makes it clear that employers must allow transgender employees access to restroom, shower, locker room and other similar facilities that correspond with the gender identity of the individual. The guidance also suggests that providing individual unisex restrooms can enhance privacy for all employees.

District of Columbia: The District of Columbia has amended its Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to require employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees who are unable to perform the functions of their jobs due to complications before birth.

Michigan: Michigan has amended its Workers’ Disability Compensation Act to specify when an employee of a franchise will be considered an employee of the franchisor. An employee of a franchise will not be considered an employee of the franchisor unless the franchisee and franchisor shared in the determination of the matters governing the essential terms and conditions of employment and the franchisee and franchisor directly and immediately controlled matters relating to the employment relationship, such as firing, discipline, supervision and direction.

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico has amended the Puerto Rico Minimum Wage, Vacation, and Sick Leave Act to provide caregiver leave. Employees can now use up to five days of accrued sick leave per year to care for qualified family members who are ill. Qualified family members are the employee’s sick children, spouse or parents.

San Francisco, California: The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement has released the 2015 Health Care Security Ordinance (HCSO) Annual Reporting Form. Employers covered by the HCSO must submit this form by April 30, 2016 to report on the 2015 calendar year. The HCSO applies to businesses with 20 or more employees (50 for non-profit organizations). Employers are required to make a minimum level of hourly health care expenditures for employees performing at least 8 hours of work per week in San Francisco.

Santa Monica, California: Effective July 1, 2016, the City of Santa Monica will require employers of 26 or more employees to provide 9 days of paid sick leave. Employers with 25 or fewer employees must provide five days of paid sick leave. The law applies to all employees who work two or more hours during a particular week in Santa Monica. Government employers are exempt. A collective bargaining agreement that is clear and unambiguous can waive the paid sick leave rules.

Spokane, Washington: Effective January 1, 2017, the City of Spokane will require employers to provide paid sick leave. The new law applies to employees who physically perform more than 240 hours of work within the city. The law does not apply to work-study students, independent contractors, seasonal workers or construction workers. Paid time off (PTO) programs can satisfy the requirements if the employer allows the use of PTO for all the reasons required by the city.

Utah: Utah now requires employers with 15 or more employees to offer breastfeeding and pregnant employees accommodations, such as extra breaks.

About John Garner

John Garner has over thirty five years of experience in employee benefits. He specializes in compliance, health care reform, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). He helps clients with life, health, and disability benefits, cost containment, flexible benefits, and claim consulting.

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