Short session sees a variety of employee-focused bills

by <a href="mailto:candiceb@awcnet.org">Candice Bock</a>, <a href="mailto:jacobe@awcnet.org">Jacob Ewing</a> | Mar 27, 2020
During a short session and an election year, there were few major proposals in the human resources and labor relations arena.

During a short session and an election year, there were few major proposals in the human resources and labor relations arena. However, there were numerous bills that provided incremental changes for employees.

One of the most significant was the Legislature’s desire to provide a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for PERS 1 (and TRS 1) retirees. The PERS 1 retirees sought a COLA in 2019, but the Legislature ultimately decided that they couldn’t afford it in the biennial budget. This year with the February economic forecast so positive, budget writers felt more compelled to pass the COLA. Unfortunately, the PERS 1 retirement program is already significantly underfunded with current PERS employers required to pay a surcharge to shore up the retirement fund. The addition of even this modest 3% COLA, capped at $62.50 per month per retiree, will result in a bump in the surcharge cities pay. Cities should expect that increase (raising the surcharge from 4.76% to 4.88%) to take effect later this year.

Another bill of note provides additional protections for public employee personal information. HB 1888 protects employee birthdates and photos from release and requires employers to notify employees when certain personal information is requested. For a full write up see the open government section.

Finally, there was a push to make changes to the workers’ compensation system, which included expensive new requirements for self-insured employers. With great effort by the employer community, these proposals were modified to reduce the most significant negative impacts on employers. HB 2409 primarily impacts self-insured employers by increasing certain penalties and requiring new certification and licensing. SB 6440 makes changes the use of independent medical exams (IMEs) and creates a workgroup to evaluate additional changes.

There were a few high-profile bills addressing HR & labor relations issues in 2020.

Bill #

Description

Status

HB 1390/SB 5400

PERS Plan 1 COLA

HB 1390 delivered to Governor. If signed, effective July 1, 2020.

HB 1888

Exempts certain information regarding a government employee from public disclosure

Delivered to Governor. If signed, effective June 11, 2020.

HB 2266

Prohibits an employer from requiring a doctor’s note regarding the need for reasonable accommodations for a nursing mother

Delivered to Governor. If signed, effective June 11, 2020.

HB 2308

Requires employers to include the standard occupational classification or job title of each employee on quarterly tax reports to the Employment Security Department

Delivered to Governor. If signed, effective October 1, 2021.

HB 2409

Impacts certain workers compensation self-insured employer penalties and requires that individuals handling self-insured claims must be licensed according to rules set by L&I

Delivered to Governor. If signed, sections 1-7 take effect September 1, 2020. Section 8 takes effect July 1, 2021.

HB 2614/SB 6349

Clarifies and updates the administration of the Paid Family Medical Leave (PMFL) program

HB 2614 delivered to Governor. If signed, effective June 11, 2020.

HB 2689/SB 6440

Creates new standards for the use of independent medical examinations by Labor and Industries and self-insurers for workers’ compensation claims

SB 6440 delivered to Governor. If signed, sections 1-3 take effect January 1, 2021. Sections 4-5 take effect June 11, 2020.

HB 2715/SB 6217

Permit municipalities that control or operate an airport or air navigation facilities to enact minimum labor standards for employees of those facilities

SB 6217 signed by Governor. Effective June 11, 2020.

HB 2758

Allows 911 emergency dispatch personnel who receive calls and dispatch emergency services to make a workers’ compensation claim for posttraumatic stress disorder as an occupational disease

Delivered to Governor. If signed, takes effect June 11, 2020.

SB 6034

Provides employees with an additional six months to file complaints with the Human Rights Commission alleging pregnancy discrimination

Delivered to Governor. If signed, takes effect June 11, 2020.

SB 6051/HB 2210

Exempts prescription drug plans sponsored by employers or unions that exclusively supplement Medicare Part D coverage from applicable regulations affecting health insurance plans

SB 6051 delivered to Governor. If signed, takes effect immediately.

SB 6499/HB 2716

Exempts public employees’ medical information contained in the state retirement system from public disclosure requirements

SB 6499 delivered to Governor. If signed, takes effect June 11, 2020.

HB 2239/SB 6177

Prohibits employers from searching an employee’s vehicle while parked on the employer’s property

Did not pass

HB 2401

Restricts how employers may use artificial intelligence (AI) during the hiring process

Did not pass

HB 2585

Addresses the need for organizations to take action during an emergency using unconventional methods to preserve the lives of residents

Did not pass

HB 2740

Sets forth new standards for drug testing during the hiring process

Did not pass

HB 2748

Establishes a parking cash-out program for employers of 50 or more employees

Did not pass

SB 6216

Exempts certain classes of individuals from Paid Family Medical Leave

Did not pass

SB 6316

Removes the number of traffic citations and penalties assessed from a police officer’s performance review, evaluation, assessment, promotion, or assignment

Did not pass

SB 6372

Removes minimum age requirements from conditions needed to access structured settlements for injured workers

Did not pass

SB 6373

Provides self-insurers the ability to allow certain industrial insurance claims if the claim would entitle a worker to more than just medical treatment

Did not pass

SB 6552

Eliminates the three-day waiting period from the date of injury to be eligible for the receipt of time lost

Did not pass

SB 6564

Creates a tax benefit for employers who hire individuals who are classified as hard-to-place job seekers

Did not pass

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