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2018 Legislative Proposals

The 2018 legislative session is well underway.This year, lawmakers introduced dozens of bills that could impact many different areas of labor and employment law.  For instance, some of these proposals could revise Hawaii law on the following topics:

  • Notice of Work Schedules
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • Hiring Practices
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave
  • Pay Secrecy and Transparency
  • Social Media Privacy
  • Workplace TRO’s
  • Independent Contractors
  • Wage Discrimination
  • Minimum Wage
  • Workers Compensation
  • Temporary Disability Insurance

Many of these measures have been heard and passed out by their assigned committees, whereas others may end up on the cutting room floor this week.  The Hawaii Employers Council (“HEC”) will be closely monitoring these bills during the 2018 legislative session.

You can view a listing of bills that HEC will be monitoring here:  2018 Employment Bills Introduced.   An updated list of bills will be issued following the First Crossover deadline.

2017 Legislative Wrap-Up

The 2017 legislative session has come to a close.  This year, state lawmakers ended up passing out several measures that will amend various employment laws in Hawaii.  Such laws include workers’ compensation, payment of wages, Hawaii Family Leave Law, occupational safety and health penalties, and others.  In addition, the legislature also passed out bills with regards to the Affordable Care Act, medical marijuana, non-profit corporations, and privacy of medical records.

Each legislative session, I prepare a legislative digest on behalf of the Hawaii Employers Council (“HEC”) that provides a list and description of the bills we think could have an impact on employers.  To view a copy of the latest version of the legislative digest following the end of session, please click on the following link:  Employment Bills after Sine Die.

I also presented a 45-minute webinar discussing several of these bills.  The webinar is available for HEC members only and can be viewed here:  2017 Legislative Wrap-Up (Recorded Webinar).

Brace Yourselves: The DOL’s New Overtime Rules Are Here

On Tuesday, May 17, 2016, news broke that the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) will be publicly issuing their final rules regarding overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.  The final rule will raise the salary threshold exemption from $23,660 to $47,476, which is more than double the current amount.  While the salary threshold is not quite the $50,440 that was initially proposed by the DOL, it is still certainly a very high number that will negatively impact many small businesses, non-profit organizations, and other companies that simply cannot afford to raise salaries to $47k for all of their exempt employees.

The final rule will also trigger automatic increases to the salary threshold every three years, beginning on January 1, 2020.  To put it lightly, this escalator clause could prove to be a real back breaker for many companies.  Under the DOL’s estimation, this would increase the salary threshold to $51,168 in 2020.  It is also not clear whether the DOL has fully thought about the implications of this escalator clause, but that is a different discussion for another day (see below).

In addition, the final rule also raises the salary threshold that is used for the “highly compensated employees” exemption from $100,000 to $134,004.   With the escalator clause, this number is estimated by the DOL to be $147,524 in 2020.

Finally, the new rule also provides that non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) can be used to satisfy up to 10% of the new standard salary level, as long as they are paid on a quarterly basis (or sooner).

The new rules will take effect on December 1, 2016.  This gives employers just under 200 days to start preparing for these major rule changes.

Certainly, this is BIG NEWS!  And bad news, too.

In order to assist employers with understanding and preparing for the DOL’s final overtime rule, the Hawaii Employers Council (“HEC”) will be conducting a seminar/webinar next Wednesday from 8:30 to 10:30 am.  This program will contain three main components:  (1) a discussion of the current and new rule; (2) actions plans employers can implement in response to the new rule; and (3) how to communicate with employees about changes that are (or will be) implemented by the employer.  I will be presenting the first part of the program.  

Here are some links for further information:

Oh, one last thing – I should also note that the final rules do not make any changes to the duties tests for the Executive, Administrative and Professional exemptions.  Employers can probably view that as a good thing, although I do not think such changes were likely because the DOL did not include them in its proposed rule.  Therefore, implementing such changes would have probably been in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act anyway.

Let’s Talk About Drugs and Money, But Not in the Same Sentence (Quotes in the PBN)

Just recently, the Pacific Business News published a couple short articles where they included my thoughts about what we can expect during the upcoming legislative session.  The first article talked about possible medical marijuana legislation and the second article discussed Hawaii wage and hour law.

With regards to medical marijuana, I mentioned that we can expect to see bills that propose to expand the rights of medical marijuana patients in two ways.  First, medical marijuana is currently available only to individuals who have a debilitating condition, such as cancer, glaucoma, severe pain, or PTSD.  With the growing social acceptance of medical marijuana, we will likely see legislation opening up marijuana to conditions such as anxiety, stress, insomnia, and arthritis.  Second, we might also see measures that provide job protection for users of medical marijuana – meaning that an employer would be prohibited from firing an employee because the employee uses medical marijuana.

With regards to wage and hour law, we might see an increase in the salary threshold for Hawaii wage and hour exemption, which is currently set at $2,000 per month (in other words, an employee who is guaranteed a salary of $2,000 per month is exempt from Hawaii minimum wage and OT requirements, although they still need to comply with federal law).  Such legislation is especially likely in light of the DOL’s proposed increases to the salary basis for the FLSA’s exemptions.

You can read a copy of the articles here:  Medical Marijuana and Wage and Hour Exemption.

Hawaii Minimum Wage Now $8.50 Per Hour

Happy New Years everybody and welcome back to work!  This is just a quick reminder that the Hawaii minimum wage increased by 75 cents on January 1, 2016, which makes the new minimum wage in Hawaii $8.50 per hour.  The tip credit is still just 75 cents per hour (assuming the tipped employee earns at least $7.00 per hour in tipped income and wages).

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In addition, the minimum wage is also scheduled to increase twice more in the next two years.  Beginning January 1, 2017, the minimum wage will be $9.25 per hour and on January 1, 2018 it will increase to $10.10 per hour.

For further discussion on the Hawaii minimum wage or tip credit, you can read a helpful guide issued by the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations back in 2014:  DLIR Wage and Hour Notice.