NLRB Issues Two Employer-Friendly Decisions

Restricting Employee E-mail Usage for Union Activities

The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) recently reversed its own Obama-era ruling and held that employees now have no statutory right to use an employer’s equipment, including work emails and IT resources. The new Caesar’s Entertainment decision holds that employees’ statutory rights to engage in protected, Section 7 activities under the National Labor Relations Act must yield to the property rights of employers to control the use of their equipment, provided that employers do not target union-related communications and activity and that employees have reasonable alternate means of communication available to them. Therefore, employers may now legally restrict the use of their e-mail system, even for union organizing activities or for other activities protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.

 

Requiring Confidentiality in Workplace Investigations

The NLRB just ruled that employers may once again require confidentiality from employees involved in open workplace investigations. This decision in Apogee Retail LLC reverses the NLRB’s Obama-era Banner Health decision, which had prohibited employers from demanding that employees keep the details of internal investigations confidential. The new decision also resolves conflicting commands from the NLRB and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding investigation confidentiality. Now employers can be reasonably assured that they may require their employees to keep confidential the details of active internal investigations.

Washington Raises Minimum Salary to Meet Overtime Exemptions

On December 11, 2019, the state of Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries announced a substantial increase to the state’s salary threshold to meet the salary basis test for “white collar” overtime exemptions. The minimum exempt salary will increase over time and by 2021, the minimum salary for all state employers will rise well above the new federal minimum salary threshold ($684 per week, or $35,568 per year) that takes effect January 1, 2020.

From 2020 to 2028, Washington’s minimum salary threshold will increase incrementally at the start of each year as shown below. For employers with 50 or fewer employees, the increase is slower than that for those with more than 50 employees. By 2028, the threshold will be the same for all employers regardless of size, and all salaried exempt employees will earn 2.5 times the minimum wage. After 2028, the salary threshold will increase if minimum wage is adjusted for inflation.

 

Washington-Raises-Minimum-Salary

 

The hourly paid computer professional exemption will also change on July 1, 2020. The minimum pay rate will jump from $27.63/hour to $37.13/hour for employers with more than 50 employees in Washington. This will rise to $47.25/hour, plus Consumer Price Index (CPI) CPI adjustments, for all employers by 2022, after which annual CPI adjustments will be applied.

Nevada Paid Leave Law Takes Effect January 1st

Effective January 1, 2020, all private employers with 50 or more employees in Nevada will have to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid leave per benefit year. Employers will have to provide 0.01923 hours of paid leave for each hour of work performed. According to the language of the statute, the law does not apply to a Nevada employer who “pursuant to a contract, policy, collective bargaining agreement or other agreement, provides employees with a policy for paid leave or a policy for paid time off to all scheduled employees at a rate of at least 0.01923 hours of paid leave per hour of work performed.” 

Some key features of the new law are listed below:

  • The law does not apply to a business during its first two years of operation.
  • Leave may be provided in a lump sum at the beginning of the benefit year or on an accrual basis over the course of a benefit year.
  • Employers can require that paid leave be used in increments up to a maximum of four hours.
  • Employers may limit carryover from the previous benefit year to 40 hours.
  • The law does not prevent employers from having more generous leave policies.
  • Employers are not required, to pay out unused paid leave upon termination of employment. However, if an employee who was involuntarily terminated is rehired by the employer within 90 days of the separation, the employer must reinstate previously unused paid leave hours.
  • Each employee is entitled on each payday to an accounting of the hours of paid leave available for their use, and the law imposes record keeping requirements relating to the accrual and use of paid leave.

The Nevada Labor Commissioner has put out an Advisory Opinion on this subject which may provide additional insights.

Supporting Mental Health in the Work Place

The age of Digital Intelligence and Technology brings innovative, inclusive, and customer service centered expectations.

The success of a business is determined by the health and motivation of its Workforce. Supporting overall employee wellness in the workplace generates growth and purpose — both for the employees and the employers’ bottom line. 

New Minimum Wage Rates for Oregon Effective 7/1/19

On July, 1, 2019 the new Oregon minimum wage per hour will be $11.25 for these counties: Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washinton, and Yamhill.

It will be $12.50 per hour for Portland Metro and $11.00 per hour for these nonurban counties: Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Moorrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler. This also means that there are new mandatory posters required.

The new posters are updated on C2Connection in English and Spanish.

Maine Law Requires Employers to Provide Employees Paid Leave to Use for Any Reason

Maine Governor Janet Mills has signed a bill that will allow employees to use mandated paid leave for any reason. Under this law, approximately 85% of private sector employees in Maine will receive paid leave. The new law will take effect January 1, 2021.

Maine employers with at least 10 employees who work more than 120 hours in a calendar year must provide one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours an employee works. An employee can earn up to 40 hours of paid leave annually. Employers who violate the new law will be subject to penalties of up to $1,000.

Employees will begin accruing leave at the start of employment and are eligible to begin using any accrued leave after 120 days of employment. Except in cases of emergency, employees must provide reasonable notice of their intent to take leave and use of leave must be scheduled to prevent undue hardship to the employer.

While on paid leave, an employee must be paid at the same rate of pay they received prior to taking the leave. Taking paid leave cannot result in a loss of any accrued benefits.

Additional information regarding the new law is forthcoming from the Maine Department of Labor.