Ontario Amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act

On October 27, 2015, An Act to amend various statutes with respect to sexual violence, sexual harassment, domestic  violence and related matters passed the first reading. The Act, also known as Bill 132, has amended provisions that specify employers’ obligations to have a program and a policy to protect employees from workplace harassment. The new law became effective September 8, 2016.

Under the amended law, the definition of “workplace harassment” has been expanded to include workplace sexual harassment. “Workplace sexual harassment” is defined as:

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Chicagoans Start Earning Paid Sick Leave Next Summer

Beginning July 1, 2017, workers in the city of Chicago will start accruing paid sick leave time, allowing them meet financial responsibilities and at the same time attend to their own or their family members’ health care needs. A recent amendment to the City’s minimum wage law was enacted giving eligible employees the right to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, up to five days (40 hours) per year. The Chicago Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Ordinance applies to all employers regardless of the number of employees, so even workers in small businesses and domestic workers will be able to take the leave. Illinois does not have a statewide sick leave law.

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NY Department of Labor Publishes Final Rule for Methods of Payment

The New York Department of Labor has recently adopted the final regulation on the methods of payment by which employees must be paid. Starting March 7, 2017, employers may pay employees using cash, check, direct deposit, or payroll debit card. Individuals employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, or professional capacity whose earnings are in excess of $900 a week are not covered under the regulation.

Employers must provide a written notice and consent when using methods of payment other than cash or check. Both the notice and consent can be provided and obtained electronically as long as employees have access to view and print them. The notice must include:

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Montgomery County, MD Mandates Paid Sick Leave

Mandatory paid sick leave laws continue to expand around the nation. Five states and at least 27 cities and counties now require that employees be allowed to accrue paid sick leave to care for their own illnesses or injuries or for preventive health care. Often, paid sick leave laws also allow an employee to use their paid sick leave time to care for the illnesses or injuries or preventive care of family members. A select few laws also allow employees to use paid sick days to obtain “safe” services related to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking for themselves or for a family member.

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St. Paul Passes Sick Leave Ordinance

St. Paul has become the second Minneapolis city to require employers to provide earned safe and sick time for their employees. On September 7, 2016, the St. Paul City Council passed a mandatory paid sick leave ordinance. Under the ordinance, an individual, corporation, partnership, association, nonprofit organization, or a group of persons with one or more employees must allow employees to address their own health needs and the health of their family members. Employers are also required to assist victims of domestic abuse by providing paid leave. The time off will help victims receive treatment and obtain any other service that will help ensure their protection.

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Canadian Provinces Raise Minimum Wage Rates this Fall

Several Canadian provinces will increase their minimum wage rates this fall including Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. The minimum wage rate increases are based on annual changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is used as an indicator of the change in the cost of living.

The minimum wage rate increases taking effect over the next month are significant. A comparison of 2015 minimum wage rates with 2016 minimum wage rates for provinces increasing this September/October are:

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OSHA Penalty Increases Take Effect in Wyoming

Adjustments to Penalties

On August 1, 2016, new penalty amounts for violations of Federal OSHA law took effect. OSHA’s maximum penalties, which were last adjusted in 1990, have been adjusted for inflation. The penalties, which include an initial “catch-up” adjustment, have increased 78%. Going forward, OSHA will continue to adjust its penalties for inflation each year based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

State Plan States

States that operate their own occupational safety and health State Plans are required to adopt maximum penalty levels that are at least as effective as Federal OSHA’s. States must comply with this requirement within the next six months.

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Voters to Decide South Dakota Youth Minimum Wage

This Election Day (November 8th), South Dakota voters will decide ballot measure to establish a youth minimum wage. If the proposed law gets passed, an employer with employees under 18 years old will be required to pay them at least $7.50 per hour. The youth minimum wage will not be subject to the annual minimum wage adjustment for inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Employers will not be permitted to take any action to displace an employee, including a partial displacement through a reduction in hours, wages, or employment benefits, in order to hire an employee at the wage authorized in the proposed law.

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Illinois Employees May Use Sick Leave to Care for Family Members

Although the Illinois state legislature is presently considering a statewide sick leave bill, currently there is no Illinois state law requiring private employers to provide employees sick leave, paid or unpaid. Today, more than 40% of private sector workers in Illinois cannot earn paid sick time. Of those workers who receive paid health care time, few policies, in both the private and public sectors, allow the worker to use it to care for a family member who is ill. Soon, however, some Illinois workers will be able to use up to half of their employer-provided personal sick leave benefits to care for their family members.

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New Hampshire Amends Payment of Wages Rule

Employers in the state of New Hampshire have new obligations relating to the notification of and payment of wages as well as record-keeping requirements. Under the amended New Hampshire Administrative Rules Chapter Lab 803.01 Payment of Wages, employers must notify employees at the time of hiring and prior to any changes the rate of pay or salary, whether by daily, weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly, or yearly, or by commissions, as well as the day and place of payment and the specific methods used to determine wages due. Employees must also be provided with a written or posted detailed description of employment practices and policies regarding fringe. Furthermore, employers need to inform his or her employees in writing of any changes to rate of pay, salary, or employment practices or policies prior to the effective date of the change.

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