Blog Archives

Legislative Updates
Presentation for University of Hawaii’s HR Ohana Meeting

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak at the HR Ohana Meeting to about 100 human resources professionals from all campuses of the University of Hawaii, which included the Manoa campus, as well as all neighbor island campuses and community colleges.

The meeting took place at Windward Community College, and man, I had no idea that WCC had such a beautiful campus.  On one side of the campus, you have a majestic view of the Koolau mountain range.  On the other side, you have a magnificent view of the ocean.  It was incredible, to say the least.

I was asked to speak about current hot topics in labor and employment law, so I included the following four topics in my presentation:  (1) 2014 legislative update; (2) social media and the workplace; (3) the possible unionization of Northwestern University football players and (4) employment law rights of same-sex couples in Hawaii following the Windsor court decision and legalization of same-sex marriage in Hawaii.

One of the speakers who presented before me talked about the “HR Tsunami” and how the duties of HR professionals in the workplace are becoming more significant as they take on more active roles in the strategic planning and management of corporations.  In other words, HR professionals are not just performing administrative functions.  I felt that this particular topic was a great segue into my presentation, because it gave me an opportunity to discuss the importance of being proactive in employment-related decisions and reinforce my motto that “the best defense is a good offense.”  It was also good to see that so many people chose to attend the meeting; considering that it was voluntary, having 100 attendees is fantastic because it shows that these HR professionals are doing their own part to be more proactive about their job functions.

 
Governor Signs Minimum Wage Bill

On Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, Governor Abercrombie signed SB 2609 CD1 - the minimum wage bill from the 2014 legislative session - into law.  The state’s minimum wage is currently $7.25.  This bill will increase the minimum wage four times over the next four years as follows:

  • January 1, 2015 – $7.75
  • January 1, 2016 – $8.50
  • January 1, 2017 – $9.25
  • January 1, 2018 – $10.10 (<– Clayton Hee got that extra $0.10 that he wanted.)
In addition, this bill also increases the state’s tip credit (which is currently just 25 cents per hour) to 50 cents on January 1, 2015 and 75 cents on January 1, 2016.  In order to take any tip credit, however, the employee at issue must earn at least $7.00 above the minimum wage in tips and wages.  In effect, an employee must earn $7.50 an hour in tips beginning January 1, 2015 and $7.75 an hour in tips beginning January 1, 2016 for an employer to take a tip credit.  While this increase in the tip credit may be welcome news for some businesses, other employers will lose the tip credit altogether for employees who earn less than $7.50/$7.75 an hour in tips.  In other words, those employers will lose the 25 cent tip credit they currently utilize.

 
2014 Legislative Session: The End is Near(ing)

Let the conference games begin!

Just last week, we passed the Second Crossover deadline, which is the date that the Senate must complete its review of bills submitted by the House of Representatives, and vice versa.  Bills that have survived the Second Crossover deadline are now either (a) sent to conference or (b) sent to the Governor for his review/approval/veto.

At this point in the legislative session, there are still several bills remaining that would have an impact on how employers conduct business here in Hawaii.  Such bills include measures that address:

  • Minimum Wage
  • Payment of Wages
  • Temporary Disability Insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Healthcare Issues
  • Smoking in the Workplace
  • Criminal Background Checks
  • And others…

As I’ve noted in the “Running Updates” post here, the HEC Legislative Digest following Second Crossover is now available for viewing on the Legislative Updates section of the HEC Website.   In addition, HEC members can also access a Highlights article that discusses several of these key measures in more depth.

Conference hearings will begin this week.  As the Senate and House wrestle over the language of the pending bills, it will be interesting to see what type of concessions are made by either side and what type of legislation is ultimately passed.

 
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 (pending)

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!