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2022 Employment Law Updates – Sweet…We’ve Got You Covered!

Written by: Stephanie L. Leffler, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Mediator

Perhaps a silver lining of COVID is the OR Legislature was not as busy with labor law legislation. This blog provides a quick summary with suggestions to get you up to speed and ensure compliance with labor laws. It’s all about the headcount! Headcount is almost always the defining factor as to whether an employment law applies to your company.

It's all about the bass… I mean headcount! Now that you are smiling, keep on smiling because we’ve got this handled. Unless specified in this post, these changes apply to all OR employers.

First up is the OR minimum wage followed by The Crown Act, OR Family Leave Act (OFLA), OR Paid Medical Leave, Safety Violations, Non-compete Agreements, Pregnancy Accommodation, and lastly, Driver License as part of job duties.

Minimum Wage – Effective July 01, 2022, the standard minimum wage will increase by $.75 to $13.50 per hour. (As difficult as it may be, think about increasing your service cost so you can stay afloat and avoid compression issues with wages and other overhead).

The Crown Act – Expands Oregon’s anti-discrimination laws and prevents employers from discriminating against people based on their physical characteristics associated with race. This includes hair texture and styles. Modify your dress or professionalism policy to ensure there is not an adverse impact to folks of a protected class. Safety policies can still be enforced.

Oregon Family Medical Leave Act (OFLA) 25+ Employees – Leave eligibility is expanded to rehires or temps if they return to work within 180 days. Public health emergencies apply if the employer has employed the worker at least 30 days immediately before the leave begins (Worker must average 25 hours per week.).

Oregon Paid Family Medical Leave Act (25 + Employees) – Paid leave has been delayed until at least 09/01/2022. Employer and employee contributions to the program are scheduled to begin 01/01/2023. Employees can use benefits effective 09/03/2023. Be sure to build this expense into your payroll budget.

Workplace Safety Violations – Employees have one year instead of 90-days to file workplace violation complaints to the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). If an employer takes adverse action against an employee who previously filed a complaint within 60-days of reporting certain workplace violations, there is a “rebuttable presumption”. In other words, the court will assume that the employee’s complaint is true. It is imperative to perform workplace inspections and encourage and act on legitimate safety concerns.

Are you still smiling? Don’t worry, be happy! We are almost done.

Non-Competition Agreements – There are new criteria that limits which employees you can offer a noncompete agreement. This doesn’t mean you cannot have an intellectual property and confidentiality policies to protect your assets. These agreements are complex and to craft these, GHR can work with your employment law attorney or ours. Did you know employers are required to provide two-weeks’ notice before their first day of work if they expect an employee to sign a non-compete. The new threshold is the employee’s gross wages and commissions must be greater than $100,533. This will be adjusted annually for inflation. Also new is the post-employment duration period. The period was 18 months and now it is 12.

Pregnancy Accommodation and Breaks to Express Breast Milk – Employers must provide reasonable rest periods to accommodate an employee with a need to express breast milk until the child is 18 months of age. Reasonable is not clearly defined. That is good because you have more flexibility to work with your employee. Pay the employee for their break time and the remaining is unpaid. You can allow them to flex time if you do not violate break and meal labor laws.

Note: businesses with 10 or less employees can apply for an undue hardship (the law is vague about what that means). Before applying for a hardship, ensure there is a legitimate need that significantly and negatively impacts operations. Enter into a discussion with your employee about what, when and where (Not allowed to be a restroom), to express breast milk. Remember, this is temporary, and a loyal employee can stay for many years.

Consider revising your break policy to allow 15 minute breaks to coincide with other labor laws. 15-minutes is the minimum break time for employees 18 or younger. Employees often come up with very good and reasonable accommodation ideas. If you need help check out JAN for more ideas. Document what you discussed and follow up with a written summary to the employee asking them to confirm their understanding. Then place in the employee personnel file under the confidential files. Employers do not need to accept every option. Accommodation does not mean you have to change operations or input costly changes.

Driver’s License Requirements – Unless driving is an essential job function, now it is unlawful for employers to require an employee or applicant to possess a driver’s license as a condition of employment or continuation of employment.

On that vein, when a new hire completes an I-9 form which shows they are eligible to work in the USA, an employer cannot tell the employee what documents to present. Let them choose and tell the employee to refer to the document lists that comes with the form. Either one item from “List A” or one document each from “Lists B & C”. Did you know you should not keep I-9 forms in the personnel file because they contain birth dates, and this could be the basis for discrimination. Create two electronic directories or physical notebooks. Label one “Active” and the other “Inactive”. Annually move any terminated employees to the Inactive binder or directory.

Required Workplace Poster Updates: These are not all the posting updates as there are updates in other languages such as Spanish and/or for specific industries like construction. This blog refers to general industry type businesses such as such as professional organizations that employ only office staff. OR minimum wage, OSHA and OFLA posters. Don’t forget you need to provide You must post even if the law doesn’t apply to you.

NEW!! To ensure timely compliance and avoid fines, we now offer online labor law posters for remote workers. To get started we need a list of your employee emails (personal and business). Best practice is to set up company emails for all your staff and set the expectation that employees need to check emails at least daily. This will ensure inclusion (folks who work mainly out of the job site) and ensure important communications reach everyone in a timely manner.

Thanks for reading.

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