Employment Law

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Washington employers, remember to review exempt salaries for 2021 by Rebecca Watkins

In late 2019, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) outlined new rules for exempt employees, including base salaries. The salary threshold for exempt employees is now a multiplier of the state minimum wage. Each September, L&I sets the state minimum wage for the next year based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, the salary threshold for exempt employees will also change each January 1st as well. By 2028, the salary level will be 2.5 times the state minimum wage, but the increase is phased in over the next seven years with a more gradual increase for employers with 50 or fewer Washington employees. Effective January 1, 2021, the new state minimum wage will be $13.69… Continue reading

Proposed Unemployment Rule May Impact Oregon Employers-Feedback Due by October 21

On September 3, 2020, the Employment Department issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking of Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 471-030-0071. The proposed rule (found here) gives the Department the authority during a declared state of emergency or public health emergency to change eligibility requirements to receive unemployment insurance benefits and the authority to make changes to the rate at what such benefits shall be paid. The proposed rule specifies that the Department shall give public notice of the new requirements to the extent reasonably possible and the public notice shall include the effective dates for the new requirements. Further, the proposed rule clarifies that the new requirements may not extend beyond 90 days from the end of the state of emergency… Continue reading

Getting Back to Work in a COVID World

As we all begin to return to work following the loosening of restrictions, it is important to take stock and prepare for the future. By now it should be clear to all of us that COVID will likely be with us for a while. Not only must employers prepare to conduct business in this new environment, it is also important to forecast potential legal challenges. To do so, businesses must take stock of practices and policies that have served us well and those that must be discarded or modified. Below I discuss the three most important actions you can take to protect your business and employees in a COVID world. Evaluate your Policies in Light of the “New Normal” As… Continue reading

Oregon employers: are you ready for the Workplace Fairness Act?

The Workplace Fairness Act goes into full effect on October 1, 2020. This Act adds to Oregon’s existing discrimination and harassment laws, extending statutes of limitations and requiring employers to have specific policies and practices in place to address workplace discrimination. While it arose out of the #MeToo movement, it is not limited to sexual harassment and broadly covers discrimination on the basis of race, age, disability, gender, religion, marital status, etcetera – all the protected classes within ORS 659A.030. Under the Workplace Fairness Act, all Oregon employers need to have a policy including specific provisions to give employees at hire and when a complaint is made. BOLI has now posted a sample policy on its website, available here. If… Continue reading

SBH Video Series: PPP Loans and Return to Work

SBH is excited to announce it will be producing a series of short videos addressing various issues employers are facing during the COVID-19 Crisis and beyond. Join Megan Vaniman as she discusses PPP loans and forgiveness. Slides used in the video are available here. The video is also available on SBH’s YouTube Channel.    

Oregon minimum wage increase on July 1st

With everything else going on right now, the yearly increase in minimum wage may not be the first thing on any employer’s mind. Don’t forget to make those hourly rate adjustments, effective July 1, 2020. Oregon has a region-specific minimum wage, so confirm which region applies your employees here. The standard minimum wage increases to $12.00/hour. Those within the Portland metro area increase to $13.25/hour, and non-urban counties increase to $11.50/hour. If you have any questions about wage and hour issues, feel free to give me a call at 503-595-2134 or email at rwatkins@sbhlegal.com    

Oregon Health Authority Releases Reopening Guidance for Oregon Employers

On May 7, 2020, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released a series of sector-specific guidance as well as general guidance to assist employers in making decisions regarding reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sector-specific guidance is available for Outdoor Recreation Organizations, Personal Services Providers, Retail Stores, Shopping Centers and Malls and Restaurants and Bars. “Phase One” of Governor Brown’s Oregon reopening plan may start as early as May 15 for approved counties with few or no COVID-19 cases. In anticipation of reopening, employers are encouraged to review the guidance and begin making plans consistent with these recommendations. Employers should also refer to the guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when determining the most appropriate actions to… Continue reading

Reductions in Hours, Furloughs, and Layoffs During COVID-19

A lot of employers are having hard conversations right now. A part of those conversations inevitably includes employment decisions. Many companies are trying to decide what is best both for their employees and their companies during this uncertain time. The three big options we’ve seen from our clients is a potential reduction in hours due to decreased demand, furloughs, and layoffs. This post will address areas employers should consider when determining the best option for the business and its employees. Employment Agreements Employment agreements are not widely used. However, employers should review any employment agreements entered into with employees to ensure it is not violating any terms of the agreements. Agreement may include notice provisions where employers are required to… Continue reading

Effective April 2nd: Employers Must Provide Paid Sick Leave and Paid FMLA Leave Related to COVID-19

On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201) into enactment. These provisions are to take effect no later than April 2, 2020 and will expire on December 31, 2020. They cover employers with fewer than 500 employees including public and non-profit employers. The Secretary of Labor may enact regulations to exclude health care providers and emergency responders as well as exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees when providing leave would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern. Covered employers must post and provide notice to employees about their rights under the Act, which the Department of Labor shall provide along with further rules and guidance within the next… Continue reading

Washington – COVID-19 Incident Reports, Workers’ Comp, Wage and Leave Issues

Krishna Balasubramani | Sather Byerly and Holloway, Oregon and Washington Employment Law, Workers Compensation, Longshore, and OSHA Defense AttorneysWith the recent news of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Washington, we want to ensure everyone understands the guidelines for incident reports, workers’ compensation claims, and other employment-related concerns. We have created a Q&A to cover many questions Washington employers may have on this confusing and pressing issue.   When should an OSHA Injury and Illness incident report be filed? If an employer is aware of an exposure or an employee reports an exposure to a virus, this should be documented as a work incident. While the common cold and flu is exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness. OSHA COVID-19 Standards Employers should file an incident report if either: An employee has tested positive for COVID-19; or The… Continue reading
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