It is especially important that employers update their 2008 Maryland labor law posters. Each year brings a number of changes to the state labor laws, and this year certainly had more than its share.
The updated list of 2008 Maryland labor law posters is:
- OSHA – Health and Safety Protection
- Wage and Hour Act
- Health Insurance
- Equal Pay For Equal Work
- Wage Payment and Collection
- Unemployment Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Child Labor
- Discrimination Notice
Employers are required to display each of these posters in a prominent location where they can be viewed by both employees and applicants.
In addition, all employers must display updated federal labor law posters including:
- 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
Labor law poster serve as a handy reminder for supervisors and employees alike.
They provide important information on the minimum wage, worker safety, medical leave and child labor laws.
Under both federal and state law, these posters must be updated each time there is a change in legislation.
A change in the federal minimum wage on July 24, 2007 required that the Federal Minimum Wage posters be updated. On that date, the federal minimum wage increased for the first time in more than a decade. The rate went from $5.15 per hour to $5.85 per hour, an increase of 70 cents.
From state to state, there is a wide range of overtime laws and rules governing the minimum wage for employees who receive tips. That’s why each state requires a different set of labor law posters.
The minimum wage for tipped employees varies broadly from one state to the next. So do the overtime laws. These are just some of the items that are covered on each state’s respective labor law posters. Here are a few outstanding examples.
Minimum wage laws for tipped workers like servers often simply follow the federal rate of $2.13 an hour. The idea is that employers need not pay the usual minimum wage because the workers are making up the difference in tips. This is the “tip credit” for employers.
Kentucky, Indiana, Nebraska, and other states follow the federal rate.
Some states offer just a little more than the federal rate:
- North Carolina, $2.43
- Wisconsin, $2.33
- Massachusetts, $2.63
- Michigan, $2.65
The minimum wage for tipped employees in Kansas is only $1.59.
At the opposite extreme, some states offer little or no tip credit. In these states, employees are paid the same minimum wage, or nearly the same minimum wage, as other workers. They include:
- Washington, none ($8.07 per hour wage starting January 1)
- Colorado, wage for tipped workers $8.07 per hour in 2008
- Hawaii, 25-cent tip credit, wage $7 per hour compared to usual $7.25
Some states allow employers very little tip credit. In other words, tipped workers get larger minimum wages – sometimes equal to or very close to the wages of those workers who do not receive tips. For example, in the state of Washington, there is no tip credit, so workers will be getting $8.07 an hour starting January 1. In Colorado, tipped workers will receive $4.00 an hour in 2008. In Hawaii, employers get only a 25-cent an hour tip credit. In other words, tipped workers get $7 an hour rather than the regular $7.25. But in Michigan, tipped employees receive a minimum wage of just $2.65 an hour.
Many employers may have been surprised by the recent Maryland Worker Safety alert issued by OSHA. This alert advises employers about the potential dangers All-Terrain Vehicles can pose when used in the workplace. Maryland OSHA wants employers to ensure that the vehicles are operated safely.
Although many people may think All-Terrain Vehicles, also known as ATVs, are just for recreational use, more businesses are utilizing the vehicles in the workplace. Some industries that use ATVs include construction, agriculture, facilities management, and law enforcement. As the use of ATVs in the workplace increases, so does the number of injuries.
Although most fatalities and injuries that occur while operating an ATV happen to recreational users, more than 100 workers have died while operating ATVs in the workplace during the past decade. Because ATVs can be prone to roll-overs and other accidents, employers need to ensure that employees operate the vehicles correctly.
To that end, the Maryland Department of Labor and Maryland OSHA, which are referred to as MD-OSHA, want employers to have employees who operate ATVs receive training. The recently issued alert supplied employers with guidelines for the operation of ATVs.
The OSHA guidelines cover any vehicle designed for off-road use. These vehicles have low-pressure tires, are steered by using handlebars, and have a seat that the driver straddles. Employers should remember that these vehicles are intended to be occupied only by the driver. No passengers should be allowed on the ATV. If storage racks are on the front or the back of the ATV, they should be used to carry equipment in limited amounts.
The statistics for ATV accidents experienced by recreational users highlight a trend that’s disturbing. A Consumer Product Safety Commission report issued recently stated that in 1982, there were 29 deaths related to ATV accidents. In 2004, the number of ATV-related deaths was 470. In the last decade, 800,000 injuries that were the result of ATV usage were reported.
Many employers believe that under the USERRA, employees have the right to return to the same job, after active military service. They mistakenly believe that the employee is entitled to the same pay and benefits that they had when they left. That’s entirely wrong.
In fact, under the final USERRA regulations recently released by the Dept. of Labor, employees are entitled to the job they would have held if they’d never left. That’s an important distinction. Let’s take Mike, a firefighter, as an example. Mike is a Lieutenant on a large city’s firefighting force. He is scheduled to receive his promotion to Captain in 6 months. Instead, Mike’s Army Reserve unit is sent overseas for a year.
When he returns, Mike is entitled to receive the promotion to Captain. His time in the military counts as time on the job, for purposes of seniority. Mike is also entitled to any increases in salary or benefits that he would have received if he had not been away.
Another common mistake in USERRA is the belief that employers must “hold the employee’s job open” in their absence for military service. This is also not true. While Mike is gone, the city has every right to hire or promote another fire Captain. In fact, the USERRA doesn’t address what happens in Mike’s absence. It only addresses the fact that Mike’s job is protected. Upon his return, he will be reinstated to the job that he would have held, had he not been absent.
In this case, the city will likely have 13 Captains instead of the normal 12 upon Mike’s return. Or, the city may appoint an “Acting Captain” who knows that he or she will be demoted upon Mike’s return. In other industries, employers sometimes hire temporary workers or put permanent employees on short-term assignments. Most employers make the same arrangements to provide staff coverage as they would if an employee were on short term disability or maternity leave.
All of these regulations appear in the final USERRA rules, recently issued by the US Dept. of Labor. The USERRA dates from 1994. It is designed to protect veterans and members of the National Guard and Reserve.
With these new regulations in effect, this is a great time for employers to update their Maryland USERRA posters. By federal law, every employer must display a USERRA poster where it can be seen by employees, even if the law doesn’t apply to any of the employees.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 still stands today. The most current regulations of USERRA have been recently released by the Department of Labor. The set of laws covers the rights of veterans, military service members, the reserve, and the National Guard with regards to employment. USERRA attempts to clarify and improve the enforcement of these laws.
We have received quite a few questions about what USERRA has to say about promotions. Well, the best way to explain is with the “escalator principle.” If there are people standing in line on an escalator, when they reach the end of it, they all get of in the same order as they got on. If everyone stays on the same step, no one will lose their place in line. Now, as far as promotions in many companies go, those with seniority are promoted first. If someone goes away on military service and then returns, they will keep their place in line, as if they haven’t left. As a matter of fact, all the benefits that the company offers someone on a leave of absence or disability (like maternity leave, for example) should be the same for service members. If the company routinely offers continued medical insurance for those on disability, it must offer the same benefits to anyone on military service.
By the way, I should mention that if things change in the business, and a returning service member is no longer qualified for their previous position, USERRA provides for an alternative position within the company. Any training needed should be offered to a returning military member is systems or procedures have changed. They should be briefed on any new responsibilities. If they still can’t qualify for the same position after training, there should be another place in the company that they can fill.
Don’t forget to update your Maryland USERRA poster with the new information. Of course, the original regulations entitling service members 5 years of job protection is still in effect. In addition, there is a possible 7 years total of job-protected leave for those who were disabled during service.
An article in a recent edition of a safety magazine sanctioned by the state addresses concerns the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has over the widespread use of forklifts on industrial job sites.
The Maryland worker safety office, OSHA, cites concerns for the dangerous situations that occur when the latest federal and state standards for forklift operation are not followed. Forklifts are one of the most commonly used pieces of machinery used on the job and are the source of most serious injuries sustained by workers. Tragically, the improper operation of forklifts is the main cause of deaths in industrial settings, too.
Forklifts are known by other names, most often referred to as Powered Industrial Trucks (PITs) and fork trucks. They are manufactured in a number of different styles and sizes but they all perform the same basic operation and safety is a must when operating them.
Perhaps the key to safely operating a forklift is mindfulness of the machine’s center of gravity. Loading the machine in a manner where the weight of the load is off center, too far forward, or otherwise unbalanced will diminish the stability of the forklift and its load. This unbalanced load may lead to damage of the machine and the load and is likely to jeopardize the safety of the operator, too.
The proper loading of the forklift is not only a safety issue that affects the operator, however. Bystanders can be seriously hurt if the forklift tips over or drops its load in the direction of anyone in the immediate vicinity.
Each forklift, or PIT, comes with the maximum load weight clearly indicated on the forklift’s data plate. There may be circumstances when a forklift needs to be modified or retrofitted to include additional parts or attachments.
Any modifications whatsoever made to the machinery must be approved in advance and clearly documented before the modifications can legally be made. The details of these modifications, approved in writing, must be affixed to the equipment’s data plate before operating the machinery with these modifications.