Employment Laws to Take Effect in New Year

  • The COVID-era has brought many challenges for employers and employees alike when it comes to employment laws. Going into the new year, some states are enacting new legislation that centers on how to better distinguish independent contractors from employees, safety related changes, and leave requirements. Below are descriptions of new employment laws taking effect as of January 1, 2021.  
  • Virginia: Contingent Workforce Independent Contractors (Senate Bill No. 744)-
  • In the state of Virginia, an employer could sometimes classify a worker as a contractor instead of an employee. A new law adopts a more pro-employee approach, honing in on two key elements that represent a change in Virginia’s labor and employment laws. Firstly, the law establishes the presumption that a worker is an employee and not an independent contractor.This employment law adopts a more pro-employee approach, honing in on two key elements that represent a change in Virginia’s labor and employment laws. The law establishes the presumption that a worker is an employee and not an independent contractor.
  • Secondly, employers may be subject to civil penalties of up to $1,000 per classified individual for a first offense, with increasing penalties for repeat violations. The new law also allows a private right of action for the worker, inviting workers and their labor and employment lawyers to test a business owners classification determination in the Virginia Supreme Court with no automatic right to appeal.

Nevada: Safety Training (Senate Bill No. 119)-

  • Back in 2009, safety training was required for workers performing on construction sites in Nevada. This new law requires that all “workers,” including employees involved in the presentation or production of live entertainment, filmmaking or photography, television programs, sporting events, or theatrical performance, complete a 10-hour course in the construction industry or general industry safety and health hazard recognition and prevention, developed by the Occupation Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor (“OSHA”), within fifteen (15) days of hire.
  • The law also requires that all “supervisory employees” complete an OSHA-30 course, which is a 30-hour course in construction industry or general industry safety and health hazard recognition and prevention developed by OSHA, within fifteen (15) days of hire. The Nevada Division of Industrial Relations of the Department of Business and Industry must pre-approve the courses taken by workers and supervisory employees to ensure they comply with the requirements of the senate.

Minnesota: Contingent Workforce-Independent Contractors (Ordinance No. 2019-00699)

  • This new ordinance will require contracts for freelance work, helping increase opportunities for enforcement of contracts that solve all too common problems for freelance workers of not being paid in a timely manner, or at all, for their work and to provide a measure of protection for independent workers who lack the legal protections afforded to employees.

Iowa: Contingent Workforce-Independent Contractors (Senate Bill No. 2296)

  • This law establishes the circumstances under which certain independent contractors are not considered employees for purposes of various laws when operating certain vehicles; these would include any individuals engaged in agricultural jobs or persons who purchase for their own account for resale.

Louisiana: Employee Definitions (Senate Bill 68)-

  • These definitions provide specific information regarding such terms as “employee” and exclude independent contractors from the definition of “employment,” specifically stating that the term shall not include the following information: “Service performed by an individual engaged in an independent trade, business, or profession in which he offers his services to the general public with the authority to control what will be done and how it will be done.”

Maine: Protected Time Off—PTO General (LD 369(SP110))-

  • An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave signed in 2019 by Governor Janet Mills helped to clarify some of the ambiguities regarding employer responsibility and paid leave.
  • This law requires that employers with 10 or more employees provide paid leave for every 40 hours worked. While Maine’s unemployment compensation laws generally determine who is a covered employee, exempt employees included seasonal employees, agricultural employees, direct sellers, certain commission-only employees, and those with booth rental agreements, including hairdressers and tattoo artists.

Maryland: Wage & Hour Scheduling-Scheduling (Montgomery County Bill 12-19)–

  • Building maintenance workers working for a covered employer are entitled to a minimum workweek of at least 30 hours per week unless the employee is taking certain types of covered leave. A covered employee is permitted to reserve 30% of the total hours scheduled for all the maintenance work for part-time workers with a minimum shift of four hours per day and 20 hours per week part-time worker. Building maintenance workers include the following jobs: janitor, security officer, concierge, building cleaner, doorperson, handyperson, or building superintendent and performing janitorial services.

Colorado: Unemployment Compensation & Eligibility (Senate Bill 20-170)

  • Previously, a claimant suffering from domestic violence had to provide written documentation of domestic violence taking place in order to establish benefits. The new law shows that any worker who must separate from a job because he or she reasonably believes continuing to work would jeopardize the safety of themselves or a family member as a result of domestic violence no longer needs to provide certain documentation to establish worker’s eligibility for unemployment benefits.
  • In addition, these employees may still be eligible for unemployment benefits via severance pay, which would be deducted from their unemployment compensation.