INSIGHTS

Q2 Updates for HR Departments

by Colleen Malmassari

Everyone is feeling the pressure of the year in full swing. The first half of the year tends to be a whirlwind – open enrollment for refreshed benefit packages, reviewing and updating policies for compliance, studying up on regulatory changes that kicked in January 1st. It’s a lot to juggle on top of your day-to-day responsibilities. As quarter two comes to a close there are a few updates that could impact planning conversations for the rest of the year.

House Bill 1889 Professional Licenses and Certifications

Due to the changing workforce landscape, is your business considering hiring employees who may require professional or commercial licenses, certifications, permits, or registrations?

Under HB 1889, individuals not lawfully present in the United States are now eligible to provide an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) in lieu of a Social Security number when applying for various professional and commercial licenses, certifications, permits, and registrations.

Key Details:

  • Effective July 1, 2024.
  • Careers in teaching, health care, accounting, and many other professions.
  • Across various professions and industries that require licenses, certifications, permits, or registrations for employment.

ACTION ITEM:  What changes may need to be made to our employee handbooks, policies, and training programs to ensure compliance with the new law’s requirements?

Senate Bill 5778 Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) Update: Limits on Mandatory Meetings

Washington’s recently passed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) includes provisions that ban employers from mandating, under threat of discipline, that employees attend meetings or speeches regarding religious or political matters.

Key Details:

  • EFCA is Effective June 5, 2024.
  • This Bill is effective for all employers whether or not a collective bargaining agreement is in place.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Have you reviewed your policies and practices around employee meetings?
  • Do your organization’s procedures ensure compliance with restricting religious/political content?
  • When did you last update your employee handbook and training materials?

Substitute Senate Bill 5979: New Paid Sick Leave Rules for Construction Industry

Washington’s recently passed SSB 5979 has amended paid sick leave requirements specifically for employers in the construction industry. As of the effective date, qualifying employers must provide paid sick leave payouts to certain construction workers upon separation of employment.

Key Details:

  • Effective March 13, 2024.
  • Covers construction workers performing job site work.
  • Required to pay out unused sick leave if separated before 90 days.
  • Failure to comply with SSB 5979 can result in penalties and potential claims. Protect your company by reviewing the legislation and updating your sick leave policies accordingly.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Does your organization’s current policies and practices comply with the updated requirements?
  • When did you last review your sick leave policies and procedures?

Proposal (CR-102) – Voluntary Use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

 The proposed rule would allow the voluntary use of PPE when workers feel the need to protect themselves from noise, dust, or possible infectious or contagious diseases.  

Key Details:

  • Public Hearings: April 23 (Spokane), April 30 (Tukwila), May 2 (Virtual).
  • Written Comments Due: May 17, 2024.
  • Intended Adoption Date: June 4, 2024.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • How does your organization currently address voluntary PPE use by employees?
  • Do you have established policies outlining when voluntary PPE is permitted?
  • If policies exist, what year were they last updated? (Best practice is annual review)
  • Do your current PPE policies align with the proposed changes in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) chapters 296-155, 296-307 and 296-800?
  • Ensure your organization is prepared for the potential updates by reviewing the supporting documents:
    • CR-102 Proposal
    • Proposal Language

    House Bill 1534 Contractor Registration: Important Rule Updates

    The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is implementing changes to contractor registration rules, including amendments to definitions, penalties, bond amounts, and fees for general and specialty contractors. These updates stem from legislation passed in 2023.

    Key Details:

    • Bond increases for construction contractors go into effect on July 1, 2024.
    • Contractors can renew registrations 90 days before expiration, so changes apply starting April 1, 2024 for renewals.

    ACTION ITEMS:

    • Have you reviewed how the changes, particularly the bond increases, will impact your business finances and operations?
    • Ensure you’re prepared by reviewing the latest information from L&I, including detailed explanations of the rule amendments.

    Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: New Exchange Notice Requirements

    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has been amended the Health Insurance Marketplace Notice, commonly referred to as an Exchange Notice, that is given to all newly hired employees within 14 days of their start date. This notice informs employees about the healthcare exchange/marketplace and potential eligibility for subsidies. It has been updated to a new format.

    Key Details:

    • Requirement is currently in effect for all new hires.
    • Notices must be provided within 14 days of an employee’s start date
    • The link to the new template can be found here: Health Coverage

    ACTION ITEMS:

    • Do you currently have a process to generate and distribute these notices in a timely manner?
    • Have you reviewed the required content and format for compliant Exchange Notices?
    • When did you last update your new hire processes and documentation?

    DOL Federal Over-Time Threshold

    The minimum salary threshold for exempting executive, administrative, and professional employees from overtime requirements will increase in two phases.

    Key Details:

    • Effective July 1, 2024: $844 per week ($43,888 annually)
    • Effective January 1, 2025: $1,128 per week ($58,656 annually)
    • The total annual compensation threshold for the highly compensated employee exemption will also increase in two phases:
      • Effective July 1, 2024: $132,964
      • Effective January 1, 2025: $151,164
    • The rule implements an automatic update mechanism for these thresholds every three years, based on prevailing wage data at the time of the update.

    ACTION ITEMS:

    • Have you considered how this will impact your recruitment and retention strategies?
    • How many of our current salaried exempt employees will become eligible for overtime pay under the new higher salary threshold, and what will be the estimated financial impact on our organization?
    • For employers who have WA State based employees, the State’s threshold is substantially higher than the Federal level, so there may not be any impact from this Federal ruling. However, a review of employees based in other states should be performed, especially if the state adopts the Federal threshold. 
    • Review and adjust compensation structure or job duties for certain roles to maintain the exempt status under the new salary requirements. In certain circumstances, it may be more cost-effective to pay overtime when necessary.
    • What changes to our timekeeping and payroll systems will be required to accurately track and compensate newly classified overtime-eligible employees, and what additional training or resources may be needed for managers and supervisors?

      Federal Trade Commission Adopts a Comprehensive Ban on New Noncompete With All Workers

      If you’ve had noncompete agreements as part of your employment contracts, it’s time to remove or revise those sections. It’s a significant shift, one that strays away from a common practice across many industries

      Key Details:

      • FTC adopts a comprehensive ban on new noncompete with all workers, including senior executives
        • Final rule defines the term “senior executive” to refer to workers earning more than $151,164 who are in a “policy-making position.”
        • For senior executives, an existing noncompete can remain in force.
      • The final rule’s expected effective date is September 4, 2024

      ACTION ITEM:  We often see decisions such as this, with far-reaching impact to employers around the country, end up being litigated and held up in court for some time. We will continue to monitor any activities relating to potential pending legislation and share relevant updates as we learn more, but would also encourage you to have proactive conversations with your employment law legal counsel to stay ahead of any future changes.

       

 

Colleen Malmassari, SHRM-CP, PHR

Colleen Malmassari, SHRM-CP, PHR

HR Director

Colleen graduated from Central Washington University with bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Spanish. She began her career in public accounting, providing assurance and tax services to many agricultural family-run businesses. About six years into her public accounting career, she became involved in recruiting and was instantaneously hooked on honing her skills in the Human Resources field.

For the past decade, she has helped lead HR teams at two different large Agriculture family-run businesses and in 2021, she joined Larson Gross to implement and lead the firm’s HR consulting services practice, helping clients cultivate their businesses and create improved workplaces for their team members.

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Recruiting and Employee Retention
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