Under the new law, the West Virginia Division of Labor can issue civil citations or tickets to any employer who cannot prove the legal employment status or work authorization of every employee on the workforce. Each ticket will be punishable by a fine of up to $100.
This law is in contrast to the requirements of the federal I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification system, which requires employers to maintain records proving the legal work status only of employees who have been hired in the past 3 to 5 years. In fact, many critics argue that the current federal laws permit an employee hired more than 5 years ago to continue to work, even if he or she was not hired legally.
A Wisconsin community college is the winner of a highly competitive federal training grant for workers totaling nearly $2 million.
According to the U. S. Department of Labor, 69 institutions in 38 states were awarded $125 million in grants.
Northcentral Technical College was awarded $1,998,522 to implement programs to produce highly skilled workers for nearby employers in the advanced manufacturing industry.
These grants are available due to the President’s Community Based Job Training Grants Initiative, which awards money to community colleges and training facilities in areas where industries need skilled workers. The program was established in 2005 and awarded 72 grants. The second round of awards in 2006 gave out 70 grants.
On July 1, 2008 the West Virginia minimum wage will increase by 70 cents, from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour. The state minimum wage applies to employers with 6 or more workers at one location.
West Virginia employers may pay workers under 20 a training wage of $5.15 per hour for the first 90 days of employment, only if certain conditions are met.
Employees in the state are entitled to overtime at 1.5 times the usual hourly rate after 40 hours, under both state and federal law.
West Virginia employers may take a 20% tip credit for employees who usually receive gratuities, so the new wage for tipped employees will be $5.80 per hour.
This increase was passed in 2006, as part of a 3-tiered increase to push the state minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour. That’s a change of $2.10 per hour in just over two years.
Under state law, West Virginia employers must provide meal breaks for most workers. Article 2 of the Safety and Welfare of Employees Act was passed in 1994. Statute 21-3-10a specifies meal breaks for almost all employees. The statute requires that employers will provide at least 20 minutes for a meal break during the course of a workday that is 6 hours long, or longer. “This provision shall be required in all situations where employees are not afforded necessary breaks and/or permitted to eat while working” under the law.
Under both federal and West Virginia law, meal breaks that are 20 minutes or longer may be unpaid, as long as the employee is completely relieved of all work duties. Employees may be required to remain on the employer’s premises during breaks.
Employees must be paid for breaks shorter than 15 minutes under both state and federal law. Title 42, Series 8 states under the West Virginia Minimum Wage and Maximum hour standards (42-5-2. Definitions, 2.6), states that “Rest periods of short duration, running from (5) to (20) minutes, must counted as hours worked.”
In addition, Title 42, Series 5 of the Wage Payment and Collection Act, states that …”when authorized by an employer, break periods and or rest periods which do not exceed (20) minutes duration must be counted as hours worked.”
The state sets stricter break standards for workers under the age of 16. Under Article 6 of the Child Labor Law 21-6-7, workers under 16 must receive a 30-minute uninterrupted meal break. Employees under 16 cannot be required to work more than 5 hours without a break, and the break may not be shorter than 30 minutes.
The West Virginia statutes include important provisions for nurses and other licensed health care workers, who provide direct patient care.
The nationwide nursing shortage has prompted several states, including Massachusetts, to limit the amount of overtime that a nurse may be required to work by her employer. West Virginia has a similar law.
In some cases, qualified nurses were leaving the field and seeking employment elsewhere because of the stresses of the profession. A major contributor to these stresses was the long hours and especially extensive mandatory overtime.
The West Virginia law limiting nurses overtime was created to safeguard the efficiency, health and general well-being of health care workers in hospitals, as well as the health and general well-being of the persons who use their services. To insure quality patient care and well-rested and alert nursing staffing, it was determined that hospitals should provide adequate and safe staffing without the use of mandatory overtime.
To insure that this happens, limitations were set on overtime required of nurses. Specific Code language can be found in the West Virginia statutes at 21-5F-3, Hospital nursing overtime limitations and requirements.
The Wage & Hour Division of the West Virginia Division of Labor enforces these and other state labor laws. The division investigates employee complaints of unpaid wages and benefits. During a single year, the Wage & Hour Division collected more than $1.7 million in unpaid wages and benefits for West Virginia workers.
Employers should be prepared for even more minimum wage changes in 2008. Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia and Kentucky each have minimum wage changes on the books that will take effect on July 1, 2008.
The Illinois minimum wage increases from $7.50 to $7.75 on July 1, 2008. This 25 cent increase is the most recent in a series of minimum wage increases under Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Another increase is scheduled for July 1, 2009, which will bring the Illinois minimum wage to $8.00 per hour.
The Michigan minimum wage will increase by 25 cents, from $7.15 to $7.40 per hour on July 1, 2008. Michigan has also seen a series of minimum wage increases in recent years. The Michigan increase is controversial, because the state has struggled with higher unemployment for the past two years. Michigan has lost a number of high-profile employers in recent years to neighboring Indiana, where the state minimum wage is lower, currently at $5.85 per hour.
In West Virginia, the minimum wage will increase a whopping 70 cents per hour on July 1, 2008, from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour.
The Kentucky minimum wage will also increase by 70 cents, from $5.85 to $6.55 per hour on July 1, 2008.
The federal minimum wage will increase on July 24, 2008, from $5.85 to $6.55 per hour. The federal minimum wage covers the employees of businesses engaged in interstate commerce or companies with annual earnings over $500,000. Most employers in the U.S. are covered under the federal law.
The federal minimum wage may apply to individual employees as well as businesses. For example, a worker whose job entails answering out-of-state calls qualifies for the federal minimum wage. A worker who ships packages across state lines would also qualify.
If the federal and state minimum wage laws differ, the employee is entitled to whichever provides the greater benefit.
In addition, a number of states will increase the state minimum wage on July 24, 2008 when the federal minimum wage increases. In most of these states, the minimum wage statute doesn’t mention a dollar amount. Instead, it simply extends the federal minimum wage coverage to smaller employers, and ties the state rate to the federal rate.
The minimum wage in Indiana, Idaho, Maryland, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Montana and Nebraska will increase to $6.55 per hour when the federal minimum wage increases on July 24, 2008.
In Ohio, the state rate will increase from $5.85 to $6.55 per hour on July 24, 2008. However, the change will affect only companies with an annual revenue less than $255,000. For other companies, the state minimum wage remains $7.00 per hour, as it has been since January 1, 2008.
There are three states where the increase in the federal rate will not affect the state minimum wage. In Georgia and Wyoming, the state minimum wage remains at $5.15 per hour. In Kansas, the state minimum wage remains at $2.65 per hour.
In addition, five states have no state minimum wage. Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and South Carolina have never implemented a state minimum wage. Most employers in those states are covered by the federal minimum wage.
On January 1, 2008, fourteen states increased the state minimum wage.
The federal minimum wage increased by 70 cents on July 24, 2007 under the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. The rate went from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour. This was the first increase in more than a decade. Two more increases are on the horizon. On July 24, 2008 the federal rate will increase by 70 cents to $6.55 per hour. Finally, on July 24, 2009, the federal rate will increase to $$.25 per hour. The increase amounts to an additional $1,456 per year for a full-time minimum wage worker.
A new West Virginia unemployment grant could go straight to the heart of the economic problems of some regions in the state. They’re the regions traditionally suffering from high jobless rates, and the grant that would give them the help they need is called “WIRED.”
“This regional economic development strategy,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao when she was announcing the second generation of the grants, “transcends political boundaries to better leverage a region’s assets to help workers succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.”
Now the U.S. Labor Department has announced the third generation of the grants. They’re highly competitive. First, the governor of every state gets a letter from Secretary Chao announcing the competition. Then each governor may submit only two proposals. The grants may be for a maximum of $5 million each, and the regions competing must show where they’re receiving other sources of funding, so the Labor Department grant can complement those funds.
WIRED stands for the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative. Thanks to WIRED, the Labor Department has granted 26 regions around the U.S. a total of $260 million to create high-paying, highly-skilled jobs for U.S. workers in those regions where the economy has remained stagnant despite general growth. Some of the regions receiving WIRED grants are northern California, the Mississippi/Arkansas Delta northern Alabama, northern Indiana, and the Delaware Valley.
“The Third Generation of WIRED,” said Emily Stover DeRocco, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training, “is designed to position local Workforce Investment Boards as leaders of a strategic regional partnership.” She said that the grants could facilitate economic transformation in regions around the U.S. She said it involves talent development strategies and what she called “integration with regional development.” The result is a partnership that can “improve employment and advancement opportunities for workers.”
In announcing the earlier, second generation of grants, Secretary Chao also noted that “Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality.”
The purpose of WIRED, as the name suggests, is to reward “innovative” solutions to regional joblessness.