Q4 Updates for HR Departments

by Colleen Malmassari

Fourth quarter is generally a demanding time for Human Resource departments across business types and industries. Benefit renewal process, assessment of policies for the upcoming year, and regulation changes are just some of the HR-related topics swirling around as another year ends. Here are just a few updates to ponder as this year ends:

House Bill 1491 Employee Personal Vehicles

Effective Date: July 23, 2023

  • Prohibits employers from searching an employee’s privately-owned vehicle in the employers parking lots/garages/access roads to those areas, and allows employees to keep their private property in their vehicle.
  • Notable Exceptions: (a) vehicles owned or leased by an employer; (b) lawful searches by law enforcement officers; (c) when the vehicle is used for work and the employer needs to inspect it to ensure it is suited for work-related activities.

ACTION ITEM: Review policies to reflect new and accurate language.

SB 5111 Sick Leave Payouts for Short-term Construction Workers

Effective Date: January 1, 2024

  • Requires employers to pay the balance of accrued and unused sick leave to construction workers (other than residential building construction) who have not met the 90-day sick leave eligibility threshold at the time of separation of employment.

ACTION ITEM: Update policy in handbook and ensure proper training for payroll staff is conducted.

Minimum Wage Increase

Effective Date: January 1, 2024

  • Washington Minimum Wage for hourly paid employees is going up to $16.28 an hour, a 3.4 percent increase over 2023.

ACTION ITEM: Ensure payroll and payroll systems are ready for this increase and be ready to answer questions from employees about the change.

Stericyle Decision

  • National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will presume any policy illegal if policy “has reasonable tendency to chill employees from exercising their section 7 rights” or “an employee could reasonably interpret the rule to have a coercive meaning” even if “contrary noncoercive interpretation of rule also reasonable.”
  • Intent of rule is irrelevant.

ACTION ITEM: Policy review to ensure no current policies have tendency to chill employees from exercising their right to engage in “concerted activities” as described in the below National Labor Relations Act.

List of possible policies needing review, but not limited to:

  • Workplace Behavior/Conduct Standards
  • Speaking to the public or media
  • Use of Employer Technology and Tools
  • Solicitation and distribution rules
  • Anti-harassment policies

National Labor Relations Act protects workplace democracy by providing employees at private-sector workplaces the fundamental right to seek better working conditions and designation of representation without fear of retaliation.

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.

How We Can Help

Outsourcing your human resources functions can reduce your administrative workload and free up your time so you can focus on your business objectives. We can help in the following areas:

Recruiting and Employee Retention
Performance Review Strategy
Policy and Handbook Development
Compliance Consulting
Workplace Behavior & Harassment Prevention Training

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