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Scopelitis Labor & Employment News - July 2019

by A. Jack Finklea, Sara L. Pettinger, David D. Robinson, Donald J. Vogel

July 11, 2019

July 2019 Scopelitis Labor & Employment News
Employment-related laws challenge motor carriers to better manage their greatest asset - their employees. Striking a balance between employee needs and business demands requires an understanding of both federal and state laws and regulations, particularly as they interrelate with laws and regulations governing the transportation industry.

For more information on compliance and developing practical employee policies, contact the Scopelitis Labor & Employment team

Paid Leave Laws Create Tension for Transportation Industry Employers   
A growing number of state and local governments now require employers to provide paid leave of various lengths and for a variety of reasons. Connecticut has just joined six other states and the District of Columbia in requiring paid family and medical leave. Michigan recently became the eleventh state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to require paid sick leave benefits.

Lesson 1: Paid Family and Medical Leave Laws Differ from Unpaid Federal Leave Laws
Employers are familiar with federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requirements - including unpaid leaves of absence of up to 12 weeks to care for an employee’s or a family member’s serious medical condition. However, many employers do not consider that state law paid leave requirements present new and varying requirements. The statutes provide between 4 to 12 weeks of family leave, and often much more for the employee's medical leave. Additionally, the pay rate varies from state to state, typically providing a portion of the employee’s average weekly wage, similar to workers' compensation pay rates. To date, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and Washington have enacted paid family leave laws. 

Lesson 2: Paid Sick Leave Laws Vary Widely from State to State
Transportation industry employers are well-versed in adapting to state laws across the country. Paid sick leave laws, however, may stretch employer policies, as the provisions of each jurisdiction vary widely. Most provisions touch on exemptions, accrual of leave periods, carry-over of unused time, and conditions for using paid sick leave. For example, Michigan’s new law is limited to employers who employ 50 or more workers yet exempts those subject to overtime exemptions, those subject to collective bargaining agreements, employees who work in other states, independent contractors, and others. Most provisions have far fewer exemptions.

Similarly, most states vary in the accrual of paid sick leave hours from one accrued hour for every 30 hours worked to one accrued hour for every 52 hours worked. Other provisions call for an up-front accrual of a full complement of hours for the year. Paid sick leave laws currently exist state-wide in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, along with the District of Columbia.

Scopelitis Can Help
The variations in state paid family and medical leave laws and paid sick leave laws render a single, across-the-board compliant policy impossible. Transportation industry employers must nevertheless develop policies that comply across multiple states by either granting more benefits than may be legally required in a particular state or by developing distinct policies for each locality in which an employer operates.

We are acutely aware that developing compliant policies can be a tremendous source of frustration, particularly taking into account the addition of multiple local laws that also provide for family and medical leave as well as paid sick leave. We are here to make the process as efficient and effective as possible. 

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