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Employee Handbooks
Electronic Cigarettes Prohibited in the Workplace

Per Act 19, Session Laws of Hawaii 2015, “electronic smoking devices” are now prohibited anywhere that smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products are also prohibited, including all enclosed or partially enclosed places of employment, as well as within 20 feet from entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes that serve an enclosed or partially enclosed area where smoking is prohibited.  This new law took effect on January 1, 2016.

e-cig ban

An “electronic smoking device” is defined as any electronic product that can be used to aerosolize and deliver nicotine or other substances to the person inhaling from the device, including but not limited to the following:

  • Electronic cigarettes;
  • Electronic cigars;
  • Electronic cigarillos;
  • Electronic pipe;
  • Hookah pipe;
  • Hookah pen; and
  • Any cartridge or other component of the device or related product, whether or not sold separately.

Employers who have no smoking policies for their workplace should update those policies to also include electronic cigarettes as well.

 
2014 Legislative Session: Final Report

On July 8, 2014, we passed the final deadline of the 2014 Legislative Session, the Veto Deadline.  The Veto Deadline is the date by which the Governor must either sign or veto a bill.  Any bill that is not vetoed becomes law “without the governor’s signature.”  This year, the Governor did not veto any of the employment-related bills.

Some of the bills that have became law include those addressing the following areas:

  • Minimum Wage (Act 82) – increases the states minimum wage
  • Private Guards (Act 94) – relaxes CE requirements for private guards
  • TDI (Act 160) – adds “organ donation” as an eligible disability to Hawaii’s TDI law
  • Organ, Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Donation (Act 161) - creates new leave law
  • Direct Deposit or Pay Cards (Act 208) – updates Hawaii payment of wages law
  • WC Drugs (Act 231) – sets price for repackaged, relabeled or combined WC drugs
  • Hawaii Health Connector (Act 233) – changes the operations of the Health Connector

A full list of bills that may be of interest to employers can be viewed on the HEC Legislative Digest, which can be accessed on the Legislative Updates section of the HEC website.  The Legislative Digest is currently available to the public.  In addition, HEC members can also access a Highlights article that discusses several of these new laws in more detail.

 
2014 Legislative Session: Running Updates

Each year, the Hawaii Employers Council provides its members with updates on labor and employment law bills that are being addressed by the legislature. One of those documents, the Legislative Digest, is actually currently available to the general public, and can be accessed here:  HEC Legislative Updates.

Bills that are still alive as of the Second Lateral deadline address (1) the minimum wage, (2) payment of wages via direct deposit and pay cards, and (3) workers’ compensation drugs, fee schedule and settlements.

For the 2014 Legislative Session, the Legislative Digest is available for the following key deadlines:

  • Bills Introduced (available)
  • First Lateral (available)
  • First Crossover (available)
  • Second Lateral (available)
  • Second Crossover (available)
  • Sine Die  (available)
  • Veto Deadline (available)

As more deadlines pass, I will update this blog entry to indicate when the most recent Legislative Digest is available.

Other updates, such as articles providing a detailed explanation of several of the significant measures and talking points on certain bills, however, are available only to HEC members.

 
2014 Legislative Forecast

The 2014 Legislative Session begins on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 and runs through May 1, 2014.  This year, the legislature will likely address several labor and employment law bills that could have a significant impact on companies doing business in Hawaii.  Some of those bills include those affecting the following areas of law:

  • Minimum Wage
  • Prevailing Wage Violations for Public Works Projects
  • Successor Employers and Employee Retention
  • Paycheck Withholding Requirements
  • Independent Medical Examinations for WC Cases
  • Social Media Privacy
  • Meal Breaks
  • Sick and Safe Leave
  • Organ Donor Leave
  • Family School Leave
  • Discrimination Against Unemployed Individuals
  • GET Increase

I recently conducted a webinar for HEC members discussing each of these bills and what they could mean for employers. During the webinar, I (a) discussed the proposed changes or additions to Hawaii’s laws and (b) shared my thoughts on the impact that each of these proposed bills could have on companies doing business in Hawaii.  (HEC members can contact me for a copy of the handouts.)

In addition, I was also recently interviewed by the Pacific Business News (“PBN”) on some of the bills we anticipate will be heard during the 2014 legislative session, and their write-up ended up being the cover story for today’s edition of the PBN.  In addition to discussing employment law bills, the PBN article also discussed bills related to other issues affecting Hawaii employers.  PBN subscribers can access the article here:  Major Business Issues Facing the State Legislature in 2014.

On a final note:  To anybody who goes to the Capitol during session, if you see me there (and I will be there often), please feel free to say “Hi.”  Oh, and Happy New Year everybody!

 
NLRB Issues Report on Social Media Cases

The General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) has issued a report on social media cases addressed by the Board in the past year.

The introduction to the report noted that recent developments in the Office of the General Counsel have presented “emerging issues” concerning the protected and/or concerted nature of employees’ social media activities, the coercive impact of social media activities, and the lawfulness of employers’ rules and policies on social media.  In the report itself, the General Counsel discussed several different cases and scenarios where employees were disciplined for posting statements through social media outlets – which were usually on Facebook or Twitter.

In each of these cases, the Board focused on whether the activity in question was “protected and concerted.”  Protected activity includes discussions that relate to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment.  Concerted activity needs to involve more than just one employee.  Thus, in many of the cases discussed in the report, the Board did not find that a disciplinary action taken against an employee violated the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”), because the employee had not engaged in “concerted” activity.  More specifically, those employees made statements on Facebook or Twitter, but such actions did not involve discussions with other employees. Therefore, such statements did not constitute “protected and concerted” activities.  Rather, they were simply considered to be “individual gripes.”  In other cases, however, the Board found that the employer violated the Act when it disciplined employees for engaging in “protected and concerted” activities.

Another series of cases dealt with employers who had “overbroad” social media policies.  Such polices were deemed to be unlawful, because “employees could reasonably construe them to prohibit protected conduct.”  In those cases, the employers were required to amend their social media policies.  Additionally, any disciplinary actions implemented under such overbroad policies were invalidated.

You can read a full copy of the report here.