It’s the Ohio law, the Revised Statute 3121.89 – 3121.8911 that turns the federal law on new employee reporting into a specifically Ohio law. We’ve heard all about this federal law before. Remember? It’s called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, or PRWORA, passed in 1996.
The state of Ohio made it the law of its land in October 1998, and since then, all of you Ohio employees have been required to report all new hires within 20 days of their hire date.
New readers to my blog may be asking themselves: What is the state of Ohio going to do if I’m late? How am I supposed to keep track of all of my new employees for my own records, let alone for the state’s records? And what the heck is all this about anyways? (That questions if the easiest to answer: the state of Ohio and the federal government use the new hire lists to track down parents who don’t pay child support, as well as people who get unemployment insurance and shouldn’t, among other social benefits.)
As for the other questions, they are a little bit more complicated, but not much. If you don’t cooperate with the state of Ohio’s labor law for new hire reporting, the state can fine you $25 per person not reported. If they find that you are and the employee are in cahoots when it comes to not reporting, then they can fine you $500 per person.
As for keeping track of your employees, employers these days don’t have much excuses, with human resource forms on CD-ROMS, such as W-4 forms, background investigation release FMLA forms, direct deposit forms, interview evaluation forms, and even employment applications. Each one of thee forms can help you provide all of the information that Ohio and other states are asking for.
Besides all of these minimum wage increases passed by voters during this November’s midterm elections, there are some other laws passed by voters that will directly or indirectly affect employers. One such law is the smoking ban passed by Ohio voters in November.
The so-called Issue 5, or the Smoke Free Workplace Act, officially kicks in 30 days after the November election, so that gives employers and their smoking employees time to get used to the changes. It might even take a little bit longer than that for employers and the state officials to figure out to enforce these laws, as smokers are apt to try to circumvent them to get in their “smoke breaks” during their work day.
Voters in Ohio, though, clearly want smoke free work sites. They even had their choice on the ballot of the exact opposite, which would be a law that allows employees to still smoke at their work site. This law—the so called Issue 4—was supposedly funded by the tobacco companies themselves, acting on behalf of the thousands of people in Ohio who religiously buy and smoke their products every day.
But Ohio voters took note of the fourteen other states in the Union that have similar anti-smoking or smoke-free laws, which are set to protect employees from the hazardous effects of second hand smoke. The other states that have already passed similar laws include California, Washington, Vermont, Colorado, Connecticut, Utah, Montana, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island, New York, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.
Employers can wonder whether it is the voters’ or the state’s right to invade the privacy of their workers. But for the time being this seems to be the trend, and all scientific evidence—that is not put out by scientists paid by the cigarette companies—suggests that second hand smoke is dangerous. So in effect, the Ohio laws and others like it are saving you and other employers money down the road on health care and disability.