Paid Sick Leave Required for Chicago Employers

Effective July 1, 2017 employers with one or more employee working in Chicago will be required to provide their “covered” employees with paid sick leave.

The new ordinance applies to all businesses with one or more “covered” employee in Chicago who have a business facility within the city or who are subject to any of Chicago’s license requirements.

Employees are covered by the ordinance if they work at least two hours in Chicago in any two-week period. Both part time and full time employees are covered as long as they work at least 80 hours in any 120-day period.

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California Adopts Strongest Standard for Workplace Violence Prevention for Healthcare Employees

Studies show that health care workers are at a significantly higher risk of workplace violence than the average worker in other industries.   The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), reports from 2002-2013, the rate of serious workplace violence incidents (who require days off for an injured worker to recuperate) was more than four times greater in the health care industry than in the private industry on average.

In October of 2016, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (Standards Board) unanimously accepted a new General Industry Order entitled “Workplace Prevention in Health Care”.  The Office of Administrative Law approved the standard in December of 2016, and is codified at Section 3342 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations.   The rule is far more extensive than the Federal OSHA’s guidelines for the prevention of workplace violence in health care settings.

Beginning April 1, 2017 all employers in California operating in the following health care areas will be required to comply with Section 3342, the “Workplace Prevention in Health Care” rule:

  • Health Care facilities
  • Home Health Care Programs
  • Drug Treatment Programs
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Outpatient Medical Services to Correctional and Detention Settings

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Ohio: How the New Gun Law Affects Employers

In Ohio, there is a new gun law going into effect on March 21, 2017 that will give additional rights to concealed carry permit holders and active duty military members.  Under the new law, concealed carry permit holders will be allowed to carry their guns in additional places, including bringing a licensed firearm into a public parking lot.  Active duty military members will be allowed to carry weapons under certain conditions without a concealed carry license.  Continue reading

Do We Have to Pay Employees On Call?

question-mark-460867_1280Yes, your company is required to pay employees if you require them to remain on your premises while they wait for an assignment (for example, firefighters waiting for an emergency call).  If this is the case, they are considered to be working and must be paid, even if they are doing other things, such as playing cards.

No, you don’t have to pay employees if you allow them to go home and they are free to leave messages saying where they can be reached.  In most cases, like these, the employees are not considered to be working.

Yes, you must pay employees if you allow them to leave but restrict their activities, (such as requiring them to remain close to the workplace or not drink alcohol while on call).

Rules for Meal and Rest Periods

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAcafe-675219_1920) does not require that employers provide any rest or meal breaks to employees other than for nursing mothers. However, if an employer decides to offer these breaks to their employees, the FLSA does provide some rules that must be followed:

  • Breaks of a short duration (typically 20 minutes or less) should be paid breaks that are counted as time worked and should be included in the total hours calculation for overtime purposes. This includes restroom breaks, breaks to get a beverage, smoke breaks, etc.
  • Meal periods (typically 30 minutes or more) can be omitted from total hours worked and can be unpaid breaks when an employee is relieved of all job responsibilities for the duration of the break.

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Caution: Some Employee Conduct is Protected

Fire an employee for the wrong reason — or in the wrong situation — and the employee could claim retaliation and file a lawsuit.

Several activities by employees are off-limits to retaliatory actions such as firing or disciplinary action.  Any retaliation by the employer could spell potential legal trouble, such as a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Here are three areas of protected employee conduct:

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Workplace Retaliation: Reduce the Chances of a Claim

In order to prevent illegal retaliation from occurring in your workplace, you have to understand some basic definitions:

  • Retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse action against a covered individual because he or she engaged in a protected activity.
  • An adverse action is taken to keep someone from opposing a discriminatory or harassing practice or participating in an employment discrimination proceeding. Examples of adverse actions include terminating an employee, denying a promotion and giving an unjustified negative performance evaluation.
  • For purposes of federal employment laws administered by the EEOC, covered individuals are people who have opposed unlawful practices, participated in proceedings, or requested accommodations related to employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability.  Individuals who have a close association with someone who has engaged in protected activity are also covered.  For example, it is illegal to terminate an employee because his employee-spouse participated in employment discrimination litigation.  Note: In addition to the employment laws administered by the EEOC, retaliation can occur against individuals who may be protected by other federal, state, or local laws.  This includes the federal Family Medical Leave Act and whistleblower laws that bring attention to ethical, financial, or other concerns
  • Protected activity includes opposing a practice believed to be unlawful discrimination.  For example, an employee complaining about treatment he or she believes is discriminatory — directed at the employee or a co-worker.  Protected activity also includes participation in an employment discrimination proceeding or requesting a reasonable accommodation based on religion or disability.

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