One of the most difficult things for human resource and absence management professionals to do is to keep up with changing state and local laws. Below is a brief summary of some new laws of interest:
Arizona: Arizona voters passed a paid sick leave law. The law provides up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year to employees of employers with 15 or more employees and 24 hours for employees of smaller employers. Employees accrue paid sick leave at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. The law is effective in 2017.
Montgomery County, Maryland: Montgomery County has amended its paid sick leave law to require employers to allow eligible employees to use up to 56 hours of paid sick leave for birth, adoption, foster care or bonding with a child.
Washington: Washington state voters approved a paid sick leave law that will take effect in 2018. Employees will be entitled to accrue paid sick leave at a rate of at least one hour for every 40 hours worked. Employees can carry over at least 40 hours of unused paid sick leave to the following year. The law does not have a yearly accrual cap or a yearly usage cap for paid sick leave.
Medical Marijuana: Voters in Arkansas legalized the use of medical marijuana by individuals with qualifying medical conditions. The law contains a nondiscrimination provision that prohibits employers from discriminating against an individual solely based on the individual’s status as a qualifying patient or designated caregiver. The law does not require an employer to accommodate the ingestion of marijuana in the workplace or an employee working while under the influence of marijuana.
Voters in Florida approved the medical use of marijuana by individuals with debilitating medical conditions, as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Employers are not required to accommodate any on-site use of medical marijuana. The law is effective January 3, 2017.
Voters in North Dakota approved medical marijuana. The law does not provide any employment protections for medical marijuana users.
Recreational Marijuana: Voters in California approved recreational marijuana use for individuals over the age of 21. The law explicitly permits employers to enact and enforce workplace policies pertaining to marijuana. The law does not change the rights and obligations of employers to maintain a drug and alcohol free workplace or require employers to permit or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growth of marijuana in the workplace. The law does not affect the ability of employers to have policies prohibiting the use of marijuana by employees and prospective employees. Employers may still rely on Federal law to refuse to hire applicants who test positive for marijuana use.
Voters in Maine approved the recreational use of marijuana by individuals 21 and older. The law permits employers to prohibit possession or use of marijuana in the workplace and it also expressly prohibits discrimination against an employee for marijuana use.
Voters in Massachusetts approved the recreational use of marijuana by individuals age 21 and over. The law does not require an employer to permit or accommodate the use of marijuana in the workplace, nor does it affect the authority of employers to enact and enforce workplace policies restricting the consumption of marijuana by employees. The law is effective December 15, 2016.
Voters in Nevada approved the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 and older, with some restrictions. The law explicitly permits employers to maintain, enact and enforce policies prohibiting or restricting the possession or use of marijuana in the workplace.