Blog Archives

Legislative Updates
Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Labor Deputy Appointment

This morning, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor approved the appointment of Leonard Hoshijo to serve as the Deputy Director of the Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (“DLIR”).  The next step in the process is for the full Senate to vote on whether to confirm Hoshijo’s appointment.

hoshijo

According to a press release issued by Governor Ige, Hoshijo is currently the Education and Policy Director for the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters.  He also previously worked for many years and in many positions for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (“ILWU”).  Several organizations and individuals, including the ILWU, submitted testimony in support of Hoshijo’s appointment.  The testimony can be viewed on the Legislature’s website here:  Hoshijo Testimony.

Interestingly, during the hearing, Senator Keith-Agaran asked Hoshijo whether his extensive background with labor unions would allow him to bring “balance” to the DLIR.  Hoshijo responded he would bring “the perspective of the working people.”  Senator Keith-Agaran then tried to clarify his question by asking whether Hoshijo would be bringing the perspective of unions to his position at the DLIR, and Hoshijo responded that the programs administered by the DLIR serve non-union employees as well.  It appeared from the line of questioning that Senator Keith-Agaran was really asking whether Hoshijo can bring balance between unions and management, but the Senator and appointee were not on the same wavelength.

In addition, Senator Keith-Agaran also asked the representative from Governor Ige’s office about the status of the search for the DLIR Director, but the representative did not have any news to share.

At the conclusion of the hearing, all four senators who were present (Senators Keith-Agaran, Shimabukuro, Espero and Slom) voted in favor of Hosjijo’s appointment.

 
Quick Reminder: Minimum Wage Just Went Up To $7.75

Hi everybody, the minimum wage just went up!  Yeah, yeah, I get it…old news…you all already know about minimum wage increase. Well, I realize that it’s been discussed ad nauseum, but just in case there are a handful of people out there who forgot to make the requisite changes with their payroll, here’s a quick reminder that the minimum wage has gone up (and will continue to rise) according to the following schedule:

  • January 1, 2015 – $7.75
  • January 1, 2016 – $8.50
  • January 1, 2017 – $9.25
  • January 1, 2018 – $10.10

In addition to the higher minimum wage, there are a couple other things you should know.  First, the tip credit also increased to $0.50 an hour on January 1, 2015 and will tick up to $0.75 an hour on January 1, 2016, provided that the employee earns at least $7.00 above the minimum wage in tipped income and wages.  What does this mean?  Basically, in 2015, employees must make at least 7.50 an hour in tips to qualify for the $0.50 tip credit, which means that employers just lost the $0.25 tip credit they used to have for employees who earn less than $7.50 an hour in tips.  In other words, for employees in low tipped categories who might make just $5-6 an hour in tips, there is no longer a tip credit.

Second, in July 2014, the state DLIR issued a new Wage and Hour that discussed the new minimum wage amounts.  You can get a copy of the new poster here:  July 2014 Wage and Hour Poster.

You can also view the state’s tip credit and minimum wage guide here:  Minimum Wage and Tip Credits.

 
Workplace Accommodations Made Easy

Hi Everybody!   I hope you’ve all had a great year so far and have at least some free time to enjoy the Holiday Season!  I can’t believe that it’s Thanksgiving week already.  It seems like the days, weeks, months and years seem to go by so much faster as I get older.  Like the saying goes…

timeflies

Anyway, I wanted to send out a quick blog post to let you all know about an exciting workshop I will be presenting in the first quarter of 2015.  Due to several requests from HEC members, I’ve decided to put together a half-day program discussing the different types of accommodations employers must provide their employees (applicants and volunteers) in the workplace.  The topics of discussion will include accommodations based on disabilities, religion, pregnancy, status as a victim of domestic or sexual violence, and gender identity and expression, as well as others

The seminar will be presented on the following dates and locations.  All sessions will be held from 9 am to 12 noon.  (Click for link to registration form.)

The program will be informative, interactive and (hopefully) fun!  You can register for the event by visiting the training section of the HEC website at http://www.hecouncil.org/all-training.  I hope you can join me and Happy Holidays!

 

 
Quote in Hawaii Business Magazine Article on Paycards

The August 2014 issue of Hawaii Business Magazine contains an article discussing a new law that was passed from the 2014 legislative session which modernizes Hawaii’s payment of wages law by clarifying that employers may pay their employees’ wages by direct deposit or paycards under certain circumstances.   The author of the article, Alex Bitter, and I had a lengthy conversation about the new law, and he ended up quoting me a couple of times for the article.

Under Hawaii’s old law, employers were only permitted to pay wages via “cash” or “check.”  (Technically, the DLIR previously authorized the payment of wages via direct deposit and paycards, but that authorization came from the department’s administrative authority and did not actually amend Hawaii’s law.  Rather, it simply provided the department’s interpretation of Hawaii’s payment of wages law.)

This new law, Act 208, expressly authorizes employers to pay employees via direct deposit or paycards, if certain conditions are met.  For direct deposit, the employer must comply with six different requirements, including obtaining voluntary authorization in writing, using a financial institution that is insured by the FDIC or comparable agency, allowing the employee to cancel the direct deposit at any time, providing a pay statement to the employee, and not requiring the employee to pay any costs or fees for the direct deposit.

For paycards, employers must comply with 12 different requirements, including providing a notice to employees of paycard conditions, accepting responsibility for fees assessed against the employee that are outside the paycard fee schedule, and allowing employees the ability to make at least three free withdrawals on the card (at least one of which permits withdrawal of the full amount of the employee’s net wages).

You can read a copy of the new law here:  Act 208.  You can also read a copy of the Hawaii Business Magazine article here:   New Rules Make Paycards More Costly for Companies.

Finally, here is a picture from the bill signing ceremony where Governor Abercrombie signed Act 208 into law.  (That’s me, just behind and to the right of the Governor…)

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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.