Employers have received fair warning from theWashington Division of Labor & Industry that they must update Washington labor law posters before January 1, 2009. The agency reports that a number of companies are not in compliance. In particular, several have neglected to update their federal labor law posters since the increase on July 24, 2008.
There are a number of changes to the 2008 Washington 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 Washington labor law posters, since the state minimum wage is due to increase on January 1, 2008. On that day, the state rate will increase by 12 cents from $7.95 to $8.07 per hour. This follows a 70-cent increase in the federal minimum wage, from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour, in July 2007.
For 2008, the Washington labor law posters are:
- Unemployment Insurance
- Employee Rights for Non Agricultural Workers
- Employee Rights for Agricultural Workers
- Washington FMLA
- Injury on the Job Notice
- Discrimination Notice
- OSHA – Safety and Health Protection
- Minimum Wage
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.
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 plan. 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.
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.
Due to concern about Washington worker safety, along with the safety of the public, the US Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has developed a new campaign. Although many people may not realize how dangerous working and abandoned mines can be, over 200 people have died in mine-related accidents since 1999. Outdoor enthusiasts, workers from industries other than mining, and children sometimes wander on mine property and get hurt.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration, also known as MSHA, is trying to warn the public of the dangers. This is the ninth year that MSHA has joined forces with businesses, individuals, state agencies, and other federal agencies to try to warn the public. This year’s campaign is entitled “Stay Out–Stay Alive.” The goal is to educate the public on the dangers and to convince them that the best way to avoid injury on mine property is stay out.
Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, explained, “There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations throughout the United States. Many of them contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly. That’s why we urge workers, hikers, bikers, rock hounds and swimmers to ‘Stay Out — Stay Alive.’”
The dangers posed by these mines are very real. In 2006, 30 people died in accidents on the property of surface or underground mines. These accident victims varied in age from 17 to 51.
Sadly, children also wander onto mine property to play, not realizing the danger. Also, outdoor enthusiasts and workers from industries other than mining may wander onto mine property and get hurt.
To get the message out, the campaign will utilize public service announcements. In addition, health professionals along with mine safety personnel employed by the federal government will talk to young people at schools, organizations, and scouting meetings.
Despite a national unemployment average of just 4%, there are isolated regions or “pockets” of the U.S. that remain immune to the improvement in the jobless rate.
The U.S. Labor Department’s WIRED grants are designed to reach into those regions and improve their economies.
A Washington wired grant would be great for the state’s unemployed workers. An Indiana unemployment grant under the WIRED program was awarded during round two of the grants. The grant was good news for workers in the northern part of the state – a region that historically has suffered high unemployment.
Now the third round of competition for the grants is open. “The WIRED Initiative,” said Secretary Chao, “recognizes that local economies often do not neatly conform to geographic boundaries.” She said WIRED “brings different organizations together to help prepare workforces by supplying them with the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.” Those organizations may be economic development groups, foundations, community colleges, businesses and universities.
This blog’s readership knows about the value of the WIRED grants when it comes to targeting and improving those regions that don’t seem to benefit from improved national employment trends. Like past WIRED grant applications, these will be open to every state and territory. Governors have received letters announcing the new round. Each governor is allowed to submit a maximum of two proposals (this is a regional grant) at a ceiling of $5 million each. The regions involved must show other sources of funding they receive – whether from private, state, or regional organizations. The competition is stiff, but the rewards are worth the effort.
Regions like those targeted by the Washington unemployment grant are the exceptions to the national rule. The national average of 4% puts it below the significant 5% point – economists consider anything below 5% to be a job “shortage.” The picture is even better for college-educated and highly skilled workers. For them, the national average is 1.9%.
WIRED stands for “Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development.
The Washington USERRA regulations, sanctioned by the US Department of Labor, provide job security for reservists and member of the National Guard called away from civilian jobs because of deployment for active duty. USERRA is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
The Washington USERRA poster should be displayed in every workplace. The USERRA was enacted as a means of job protection for reservists serving on active military duty. The act also provides clarification of the laws pertaining to reservists in the workplace and enforcement of job protection for these workers.
Recent upgrades have been made to the Washington USERRA regulations and these upgrades are described in a poster that is required by law to be displayed on every jobsite in the state. So important is this issue that even employers who have no reservists on their payrolls must display the poster in a prominent location.
One very important issue covered under Washington USERRA regulations is pension plan coverage. A recent change to USERRA regulations clearly and explicitly states that all pension plans belonging to reservists on active duty are protected during deployment.
Another important USERRA issue is the reservist’s return to work after deployment. The returning soldier is entitled to return to his or her job held before active duty and job status, position, rate of pay, etc., must be the same as it was when the soldier was deployed.
New regulations describe when a soldier must return to work. In particular, the regulations govern how much time is allowed to elapse between the soldier’s return from active duty, and reporting to his or her job. The time a returning soldier must report back to work is based upon the length of active deployment. USERRA regulations allow for job protection even if a soldier is on active duty as long as five years.