How Does Recent Legislation in the States Affect You?

There are new state statutes in Employers Council’s region of which employers should be aware.

In Arizona, the bill of most interest to employers was the addition of pregnancy protection under the Civil Rights Act.  This new law includes because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to the existing statute.  It also requires women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons who are: a) similar in their ability or inability to work; and b) not affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.

In Colorado, where the legislative session recently concluded, there will now be a hiring law that allows employers to give a preference to veterans and their spouses without violating anti-discrimination laws.  Also, when it comes to anti-discrimination, gender identity and gender expression will be protected in Colorado. There is a phasing out of the subminimum wages allowed under federal law, and agricultural workers will no longer be an exception to the Colorado Wage Act or Labor Peace Act and will be able to unionize and accrue overtime and related wage/hour benefits. There have been modifications in the manner of implementing workers’ compensation benefits, and those employers who are subject to licensing requirements will find drivers’ license information will be restricted in obtaining those licenses. And finally, there will be created a top-level apprenticeship agency in the Department of Labor with new registration and other rules.

In Idaho, wage claims can now be transmitted electronically, and the unemployment process was amended in a few ways.  The most impactful probably that it establishes a four-week cap on the weeks a claimant can receive benefits after becoming ill, and it reduces the time frame for new employers to receive a reduced UI tax rate. Finally, state employees can now donate sick leave to other employees.

The most significant new law in New Mexico is the addition of required paid sick time.  Starting on July 1, 2022, all employees accumulate sick time at the rate of 1 hour per 30 hours worked, up to 64 hours in a year. In the event of an absence of two or more consecutive workdays, medical or legal certification is required. Unused sick hours are carried over from year to year up to 64 hours. Employees are only allowed to use up to 64 hours of sick leave within a year.

Utah’s 2021 legislative session passed two bills for employers to note.  The most significant COVID-19 bill (HB 308) stating that government entities cannot require applicants or employees to receive emergency COVID-19 vaccines.  Bill (HB 80) establishes an affirmative defense for employers if they fail to comply with the requirements of Utah’s Protection of Personal Information Act, which requires organizations to set reasonable procedures to prevent access to and destroy information such as names/social security numbers/drivers’ license numbers.  Under this bill, employers can avoid liability for such failures if they establish and comply with a written cybersecurity program that meets several technical requirements enumerated in the bill.  We recommend that employers share this bill with their IT professionals to set up the required program.

Wyoming had an interesting session, but no significant legislation regarding employers was passed.

Please contact Employers Council should you need more information on the effective dates of these new laws and how to implement them.