As if the end of the year wasn’t busy enough for most employers, they also have to worry about updating their 2008 Idaho labor law posters.
There are a number of changes to the 2008 Idaho labor law posters. Every employer is required by law to display these posters in a prominent position, where they can be seen by employees and applicants alike. Popular choices are the break room, near the time clock or in a back hallway.
Employers who fail to display posters face penalties and hefty fines.
It is especially important that employers display the updated 2008 Idaho labor law posters, since the federal minimum wage – and other relevant laws – changed in 2007.
For 2008, the Idaho labor law posters are:
- Unemployment Insurance
- Minimum Wage
- Workers’ Compensation
- Discrimination Notice
These posters must be displayed by every employer in the state.
In addition, federal law mandates a number of posters having to do with labor laws on the national level. These include:
- USERRA – Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
- Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law
- Federal Minimum Wage
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- OSHA-Job Safety & Health Protection
The labor laws covered by labor law posters vary widely from state to state within the country. Overtime laws and the minimum wage rates for tipped employees are two areas of labor law that vary widely from one state to another.
The federal rate for tipped employees is $2.13 an hour. Kentucky, Nebraska, and Indiana follow that rate. Kansas is only $1.59. Massachusetts is $2.63 and Michigan is $2.65. Wisconsin is at $2.33 and North Carolina at $2.43. Connecticut hotel and restaurant workers get overtime on the 7th consecutive workday.
Tipped workers get the normal minimum wage in Washington State – $8.07 per hour on January 1. In Hawaii, tipped workers get $7 an hour compared to the normal rate of $7.25. Colorado’s rate for tipped workers is going to $4.02 in 2008.
Some states have no overtime laws of their own, and are covered by the federal law. Others have passed laws mirroring or extending the federal laws.
Federal law offers a premium of 1.5 times the normal hourly rate for any time over 40 hours. States without their own laws include Delaware, Arizona, Idaho, Georgia, and Florida. Workers not normally covered by federal overtime law are not entitled to overtime in these states.
Nebraska mirrors the federal law but extends coverage to all businesses with 4 or more employees. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan also mirror federal law – 1.5 times normal after 40 hours. But Kansas’ overtime does not kick in until 46 hours, and Minnesota’s not until 48.
Kentucky provides overtime after 40 hours or on the 7th consecutive workday regardless of number of hours. In Colorado, it kicks in after 12 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Only restaurant and hotel workers may collect overtime on the 7th consecutive day of work in Connecticut.
California has the most generous overtime plan for workers. Employees get overtime after working 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. Anyone working 7 consecutive days gets overtime on the 7th day. Double-time is paid after an employee works 12 hours in a day, or after 8 hours on the 7th consecutive work day.
In 2007, the first minimum wage increase in more than a decade affected many workers. This is especially true in the five states without any state minimum wage, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee. An additional 70-cent increase in the federal minimum wage is scheduled for July 24, 2008 when the rate goes from $5.85 to $6.55 per hour. On July 24, 2009 the final 70-cent increase will take the federal rate from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour.
Protecting the health and safety of employees is important, and the Idaho Drug Free Workplace Alliance is one way employers can prevent abuse problems. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, feels that employers should take steps to safeguard their businesses. For instance, employers can help educate workers about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Employers also should work with employees who have abuse problems and encourage them to find help.
Because a drug-free workplace is important to both employers and employees, OSHA is joined in the alliance by unions and construction organizations. The nation is committed to dealing with the problem of abuse. One way some businesses that belong to the alliance combat the problem is through drug testing. This drug testing can include random testing and pre-employment testing.
The Department of Labor has stated that the price businesses pay for employees who have drug and alcohol abuse problems is high. Employees with abuse problems may miss work more often, resulting in higher rates of absenteeism. These employees also may have more accidents at work and produce more errors. In addition, employees may have lower morale and suffer more illnesses. OSHA maintains that most workplace auto accidents that result in death are related to alcohol or drug abuse.
To create a drug-free workplace program that is comprehensive, employers need to follow five steps. They need to create a policy on this issue. Then, they need to train all supervisors on the problem of drug and alcohol abuse. Next, they should educate employees on the dangers posed by abuse. Employers should follow this education by offering employees assistance to deal with abuse problems. Finally, employers should create an approach to drug testing. Throughout all steps of this plan, the employer should keep the privacy rights of employees in mind.
OSHA does not require businesses to establish drug-free workplaces, but creating one is a good way for employers to protect both employees and their businesses.
Lately we have received several messages inquiring about USERRA, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The Department of Labor recently made the final USERRA laws available to the public. These regulations outline the employment rights of veterans, members of the National Guard and Federal Reserve. USERRA was put in place to protect military members as well as to improve and clarify the enforcement of the law.
The updates to USERRA include details about veteran pension plans and also include the following rules regarding the reinstatement of veterans:
- Veterans should be reinstated at their civilian jobs if they have five years or less of cumulative absence for military service. An injured military person may be entitled to an additional two years giving them a total of seven cumulative years of job protection.
- When a military person is reinstated they are entitled to the same salary, benefits and status as they would have earned if they had never left. This also includes promotions, if promotions are based on seniority alone. Here the “escalator principle” should be applied. This principle simply means that as people in the company move up the escalator everyone keeps their place in line. If a person steps out for military duty, they will not lose their place. Therefore, they should not be denied any promotion that would normally be due to them when they return.
- Employers are required to give any necessary training or refreshing to employees returning from military duty. If conditions in the company have changed to the point where the old position no longer exists or if the returning worker would still not qualify for his old position even after training, regulations provide for alternative positions within the company.
Now is a good time for employers to make sure that their Idaho USERRA posters are up to date with all the latest information. The law requires that these posters be displayed for all workers to see regardless of the fact that the company may not have any employees who serve in the military.
A state safety magazine recently published an article highlighting the dangers of working with Forklifts and not sticking to the federal and Idaho forklift standards.
There are about 1.5 millions forklift operators in the US, according to the Idaho OSHA.
Below are some areas of concern for employers and employees regarding the use of forklifts as outlined in the Idaho worker safety advisory on forklifts.
When loading a forklift, it is worth bearing in mind the following:
An improper center of gravity can cause a forklift to become unstable. This can happen even when the weight of the load is well within the manufacturer’s guidelines.
To counteract this, the load should be balanced between the two forks when it is loaded.
The center of gravity of the load should nut be too far forward on the forks.
The usual measurement for most forklifts is that the center of gravity should not be more than 24” higher than the forks.
It should also be no more than 24” from the base of the forks.
Do not forget that forklifts with a larger capacity may have a 36” or 48” load center distance. Check the forklift’s data plate to find out if this is the case.
If the load is under the maximum capacity, but is place too far forward, this can also created the equipment to become unstable.
If a load is not carried low enough during travel the forklift may become unstable.
Forklifts are also known as Powered Industrial Tools, or PITs, and fork trucks. They are used in many industries and are a common cause of injury or even death to workers who do not know the correct operating procedures.
As well as the above points it is advisable to note that when a forklift is modified by using attachments as is often the case, the stability of the equipment can be affected. As such every modification should be approved by the manufacturer and the equipments tags or decals must be changed to alert operators of the new operating conditions.
With the number of accidents involving All-Terrain Vehicles, or ATVs on the increase, a recent Idaho worker safety alert has come at the right time. The use of ATVs in the workplace has become more widespread over the years, and workers and employers need to be aware of the hazards involved in operating these vehicles.
Operating guidelines and employee training programs that employers can put in place to keep workers safe, are discussed in a recent bulletin regarding accidents involving ATVs.
The Idaho OSHA alert provides guidelines for ATV type vehicles. That is, motorized vehicles, intended for off road use, that have been designed to travel on low-pressure tires.
Safety guidelines include recommending that employers wear safety helmets while they are operating the vehicle, and that the manufacture’s operating instructions are followed. Employers should also make sure that their employees are trained to operate ATVS.
There is sometimes a false sense of security surrounding ATVs. They are seen as a recreational vehicle, and so it may be assumed that if you can drive you can operate an ATV, even more so when they sometimes see children using the vehicles for recreational activities. But ATVs handle very differently from most cars and motorbikes, and can, in some circumstances become unstable.
Many industries now use ATVs to help with the workload. But employers and employees need to be aware that these vehicles are not designed to carry heavy loads, or more than one person. Also, ATVs are not designed to be operated with extra machinery attached to the front or back, and are in danger of rolling over when they are modified in this way.
The all time high number of total injuries was 136,100 with over 800,000 ATV injuries being reported over the last time years. These are for recreational use, but with industries such as agriculture, construction and law enforcement increasingly using these vehicles, employers must make sure that their workers do not add to the industry related statistics.