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Wage and Hour Law
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.

Some 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 (pending)
  • 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!

 
Flex Schedules and Telecommuting

A couple weeks ago, I was interviewed by Jenna Blakely from the Pacific Business News (“PBN”) on some of the legal issues employers should consider when allowing employees to work “flex time” or work from home.  The article was printed on PBN’s website this afternoon as part of their cover story on how employers and employees are dealing with work/life balance issues.  You can view the article on PBN’s website here:  The Legal Ramifications of Being a Flexible Employer.

Special thanks for Jenna for the interview and article.

 
HEC Legislative Digest Updated After Adjournment Sine Die

The long days and late nights at the Capitol are over, and the 2013 Legislative Session has come to an end.

The Hawaii Employers Council (“HEC”) has an updated Legislative Digest for bills that were passed by the Legislature during the 2013 legislative session.  Fortunately for employers, only a few employment-related bills survived this legislative session.  A quick summary of the fate of employment bills from this year is as follows…

Bills that have already been signed into law by the Governor include:

  • Notice Period for UI Appeals Hearings
  • Pay Records and Pay Stubs

Bills that have been sent to the Governor for his approval (or veto) include:

  • Breastfeeding Break Time
  • Workers’ Compensation (“WC”) Medical Fee Schedule Study
  • Definition of “Small Employer” for Health Insurance

Bills that did not pass this year include:

  • Minimum Wage
  • Successor Employers and Employee Retention
  • Paycheck Withholdings for Restitution Cases
  • Organ Donor Leave
  • Social Media Password Privacy
  • Unemployment Insurance Contribution Rates Changes
  • Paid Sick and Safe Leave
  • Elimination of IMEs for WC Cases
  • Meal Breaks
  • Discrimination against Unemployed Individuals
  • Abusive Workplaces
  • GET Increase

In the next couple months, I will be giving several presentations on the 2013 legislative session, including HEC’s 2013 Legislative Update on June 21, 2013.  I will also be doing in-house presentations for several of HEC’s members and industry roundtable groups.  If you are able to join us at any of those presentations (and would like to find out what “OTBD” means), I hope to see you there.

To view the updated Legislative Digest, as well as an article highlighting several of the bills mentioned above, you can visit HEC’s website here:  HEC Offers Final Bill Summary for 2013 Session.

 
Minimum Wage Bill Dies At 11th Hour and 45th Minute

Wow.  In a surprising turn of events last night, the legislature shelved a bill that would have resulted in several increases to the state’s minimum wage over the next several years.  Thus, the state’s minimum wage will remain at $7.25, at least for another year.

Throughout the entire 2013 legislative session, it was almost a certainty that the legislature was going to pass a bill raising the state’s minimum wage.  At the beginning of session, both the House and Senate introduced several bills that proposed an increase to the state’s minimum wage.  In addition, Governor Abercrombie proposed a minimum wage increase in his State of the State address.  Finally, even President Obama has proposed an increase to the minimum wage (at the federal level.)  Therefore, on the issue of an increase to the minimum wage, it appeared the question was not “if” but rather “when, and by how much?”

Towards the end of the 2013 legislative session, one bill relating to the minimum wage – SB 331 SD2 HD1 – remained.  This bill was introduced by the Senate, amended twice by the Senate, and then amended once by the House.  The latest version of the bill proposed an increase of $0.50 for the next three years (effective January 1, 2014, 2015 and 2016), and then a $0.25 increase on January 2017.  Thus, the proposed minimum wage scale was as follows:

  • January 1, 2014 – $7.75
  • January 1, 2015 – $8.25
  • January 1, 2016 – $8.75
  • January 1, 2017 – $9.00

Unlike former versions of this bill (and some other bills), the latest version of this bill did not tie future increases to the minimum wage with inflation.  The bill also had a blank ($___) amount for the state’s tip credit, which is currently just $0.25.

During conference, the Senate and House Conference Committee members met on SB 331 HD1 five times.  The last meeting occurred last night, Friday, April 26, 2013 at 5:45 pm, just 15 minutes before the legislature’s self-imposed deadline for passing all bills out of conference.  At that final meeting, House Conference Chair Mark Nakashima noted that (a) the proposed minimum wage increase signified a 24% increase from the current minimum wage and (b) the parties had spent 90-95% of their time on discussions over the proper amount of the tip credit, and as a result, were unable to reach a resolution on the amount and timing of the minimum wage increases.

In response, Senate Conference Chair Clayton Hee said it was a “damn shame” that they could not reach agreement on the minimum wage bill.