|Legislative Summer2019 Newsletter|
July 2019 Legislative Update
The 2019-2020 session of the General Assembly is well under way and a lot of legislation has been introduced. Below is a small sampling.
Bills Regarding Wages:
SB 12, introduced by Sen. Tartaglione, D-Philadelphia, on March 22 and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry would raise the minimum wage to all workers in Pennsylvania to $12/hour with a pathway to $15/hour by 2025.
SB 721, introduced by Sen. Santarsiero, D-Bucks, on June 6 and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry would prohibit discrimination in the rate of pay for comparable work because of sex. It expands the definition of wages to include all earnings, fringe benefits, or other compensation whether paid by the employer or withheld from an employee’s pay. It provides for exceptions due to seniority systems, merit systems, production rates, training, education, etc.
Bills Related to Leave:
HB 676, introduced by Rep. Isaacson, D-Philadelphia, on March 1 and referred to the Committee on State Government would require employers to grant employees 2 hours of paid leave, with notice, at the beginning or end of the shift to vote on election day.
SB 13, introduced by Sen. Hughes, D-Philadelphia and Montgomery, on March 1 and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry, would require paid sick leave for eligible employees. The leave would accrue at the rate of 1 hour for each 30 hours worked and employers could limit the use to 56 hours or 7 days. It is modeled after California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014.
HB 998, introduced by Rep. Donatucci, D-Philadlephia, on April 2 and referred to the House Committee on Labor and Industry, would provide for paid sick leave that accrues at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked beginning immediately upon employment. Employers would be able to limit the use to 56 hours or 7 days annually. Unused time carries over, however employers can limit the accrual to 80 hours or 10 days/year.
HB 1435, introduced by Rep. Sappey, D-Chester, on May 8 and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry, would provide up to six weeks of protected (under the same protections and rights as the FMLA), unpaid leave to care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent. It would also provide leave to care for the employee’s grandparent, sibling or grandchild with a certified terminal illness having no other suitable caregiver in their immediate family.
SB 635, introduced by Sen. Costa, D-Allegheny, on May 10, and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry would create the Pennsylvania Family and Medical Leave Act, extending the same 12 weeks of leave to employees with domestic partners.
Bills Related to Employment Contracts:
HB 849, introduced by Rep. Klunk, R-York, on March 14 passed the House on June 11 and was sent to the Senate on June 14 for consideration. The bill would ban the requirement of nondisclosure agreements related to sexual harassment as a condition of getting a job, but would not prevent such an agreement if it was agreed to by both parties.
Bills Related to Discrimination:
SB 452, introduced by Sen. Tartaglione (subsequently withdrew sponsorship), D-Philadelphia, on March 19 and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) to expand protection from discrimination based on “race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin or non-job related handicap or disability or the use of a guide or support animal because of the blindness, deafness or physical handicap” to all independent contractors and unpaid interns.
SB 587, introduced by Sen. Ward, R-Blair, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton and Huntingdon on April 25 and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry, would repeal Act 466 of 1913, the Female Labor Law that regulates employment of females with respect to hours of labor, conditions of employment, lunch rooms, and drinking water.
HB 1417, introduced by Rep. Delozier, R-Cumberland on May 6 and sent to the Committee on Labor and Industry would ensure reasonable workplace accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of a job are limited by pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.
Bills Related to Labor Standards:
HB 687, introduced by Rep. Neilson, D-Philadelphia, on March 5 and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry, would require employers to provide temporary workers with written details about the position, wages, hours of duty, uniform requirements, meals and transportation.
HB 809, introduced by Rep. Stephens, R-Montgomery, on March 13 and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry, would allow employers to draft workplace violence prevention policies and implement training and safety measures (such as bullet proof glass, surveillance and other physical modifications) in the workplace. The bill prevents municipalities from prohibiting these safeguards.
HB 1546, introduced by Rep. Krueger, D-Delaware, on June 3 and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry. This legislation would create the Healthcare Facilities Violence Prevention Act to:
1. Require a health facility to establish a workplace violence prevention committee that will create, review, administer, and provide guidance on programs relating to the prevention of workplace violence at Commonwealth healthcare facilities.
2. Require the workplace violence prevention committee to annually perform a risk assessment evaluation of the factors that may put a healthcare provider or employee of a health facility at risk for workplace violence.
3. Require the workplace violence prevention committee to meet quarterly to review all cases of workplace violence and to perform duties as required.
4. Require the workplace violence prevention committee to prepare a report from the risk assessment and to establish a workplace violence prevention program.
5. Require the workplace violence prevention committee to provide training to employees and healthcare providers who provide direct patient care at the time of their hire and annually thereafter.
6. Require the mandatory reporting of instances of workplace violence.
7. Protect employees and other healthcare providers from retaliatory action for reporting instances of workplace violence.
Bills Related to Hiring:
HB 1170, introduced by Rep. Mackenzie, R-Lehigh and Berks on April 9 and passed the House on June 17. It was sent to the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Labor and Industry on June 20. The bill would require employers in the construction industry to use E-Verify.
Bills Related to Benefits:
HB 1177, introduced by Rep. Daley, D-Montgomery on April 10 and referred to the Committee on Labor and Industry would require employers to provide a private, sanitary space for mothers to express milk. It would close two loopholes in the Affordable Care Act by applying to all employees, not just those covered by the federal overtime provisions of the FLSA and apply to mothers beyond one year after birth.
HB 1472, introduced by Rep Cephas, D-Philadelphia on May 29 and referred to the Committee on Finance would provide a tax credit to employers who provide child day-care services for employees. This would apply to services provided on or off the premises of the employer and would also apply to reimbursement arrangements.
Federal and Pennsylvania Regulations on Exemption from Overtime
On March 7, the US DOL released the proposed regulations amending the overtime exemptions under the FLSA. The proposal would increase the salary requirement from $455 per week to $679 per week, or $35,308. Up to 10% of the minimum salary level may be satisfied with non-discretionary bonuses, commissions and other incentive pay that are paid annually or more frequently.
Additionally, the DOL proposes to increase the minimum total annual compensation required to qualify for the highly compensated exemption from $100,000 to $147,414, including at least $697 per week paid on a salary basis. Pennsylvania does not recognize the highly compensated exemption. The proposed rule does not include any change to the duties tests.
The proposed regulations do not call for automatic increases, but require updates every four years through notice and comment rulemaking.
A copy of the regulations may be found here. We have been hearing that the DOL is expected to release the final regulations this fall, to take effect January 1.
As you are aware from the alert sent out in July, the PA DOL proposed regulations to the overtime rule are under consideration. The public comment period closed, and the final rules have not been released. This is a good time to review job descriptions and compensation practices in classifying employees as exempt or non-exempt under Pennsylvania law. Stay tuned for updates.
Getting Talent Back to Work
With the First Step Act having been signed into law, SHRM has joined a coalition of groups working to improve rehabilitation and re-entry opportunities for incarcerated men and women. In recognition of the barriers that currently exist, the goal is to give opportunities to qualified people with a criminal background who deserve a second chance. The official website to learn more about this is www.GettingTalentBackToWork.org.
There are many incentives to employers including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Federal Bonding Program, local Workforce Development programs and local community and faith-based organizations that offer re-entry programs.
At the SHRM Employment Law and Legislative Conference we heard from Joe Phelps of Johns Hopkins Health Systems who has developed a process for hiring hundreds of people with records and auditing accidents and other major negative events and found that not one has been caused by an employee with a record. To date he has achieved a 64% placement of those with a criminal background. We also heard from several other employer representatives who have modeled this practice, finding that formerly incarcerated employees aren’t just “nonproblems”; they are role models in terms of performance, attendance and teamwork. They have seen the alternative and, in the overwhelming majority of cases, they deliver and are highly motivated.
SHRM is encouraging employers to take the Getting Talent Back to Work Pledge: https://www.gettingtalentbacktowork.org/#pledge
Check out the SHRM toolkit: https://www.gettingtalentbacktowork.org/resources/
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