Denver Revises Municipal Code to Increase Civil Penalties Related to Wage Theft Violations and Expands “Up the Chain” Liability

On Tuesday, January 10, 2023, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock signed Bill 22-1614 after it passed the Denver City Council the previous day by unanimous vote. With the Bill’s passage comes increased penalties and new requirements related to wage theft, specifically including joint liability for general contractors, effective upon publication.

Denver’s minimum wage ordinance imposes a current minimum wage of $17.29 per hour, and before Bill 22-1614 passed, the ordinance provided certain penalties for employers that did not pay their workers based on the designated minimum wage. Indeed, prior to the bill’s passing, Denver’s minimum wage ordinance allowed employees to file complaints to the City Auditor within one year of a violation and provided a private right of action for three years to employees to seek to recover unpaid wages plus 12% interest, $100 for each day the violation continued, and liquidated damages three times the amount of unpaid wages.

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Paid Leave for Any Reason is Coming to Illinois

On January 10, 2023, the Illinois legislature passed a bill, SB0208, which would require most Illinois employers to provide employees with up to 40 hours of paid leave for any reason on an annual basis. The bill, entitled the “Paid Leave for All Workers Act,” if signed by the Governor (who has already expressed his support) would take effect on January 1, 2024. The bill is expansive in that it would require nearly all employers with one or more employees working in Illinois to provide paid leave. Leave would begin to accrue on January 1, 2024 or upon commencement of employment, whichever is later, but covered employers could impose a 90-day waiting period before leave may be used. With limited exceptions, all employees would be eligible to accrue leave, at a rate of one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours per 12-month period (e.g., calendar year). Exempt employees are assumed to have worked a 40-hour week unless their regular workweek is less than 40 hours.

Notably, the bill specifically provides that employers who already provide “any type of paid leave policy that satisfies the minimum amount of leave required by subsection (a) of Section 15” (i.e., 40 hours or a pro rata amount based on hours worked) are not required to modify the policy if employees are given the option, at their discretion, to take paid leave for any reason. Given this provision, employers may choose to modify their existing vacation, paid time off, or sick leave policies to satisfy this new leave requirement, rather than create a new leave bank for employees.

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New Employment Laws for 2023: What California Employers Need to Know

2023 saw more people engaged with in-person, positive community as COVID-19 infections and serious cases declined. Yet, last year in our state was also marked with difficult impacts of politics, social media, the economy, divergent weather, wildfires and water scarcity. And, almost as sure as the sun rises each day, regulation of California employers increased too. More than 580 bills introduced in the last California legislative session mention “employer,” compared to about 330 bills in 2021.

While most bills did not pass the legislature, many were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, bringing more rules and risks for employers dealing with workplace safety, privacy, leaves of absence, anti-discrimination, wages, benefits and working conditions.

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Employees Gain New Protections for Pregnancy, Childbirth Recovery and Lactation

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which was signed into law on December 29, 2022, and will become effective as of June 27, 2023, generally will require employers to accommodate pregnant applicants and employees (including “temp” workers) in the same manner as individuals with disabilities. Nothing in the PWFA constrains states and localities from enacting and enforcing, or continuing to enforce, laws with greater protections for pregnant workers.

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Ready or Not, Colorado’s FAMLI Program is Here and With New Year Requirements

Colorado’s long-anticipated Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program is right around the corner for employee use — but employer requirements are already here. Effective January 1, 2023, employers have certain obligations under the FAMLI program, including notice requirements and upcoming premium payments. Below is a refresh on FAMLI program basics, an outline of current FAMLI program requirements, considerations for the upcoming months in preparation for 2024, and some additional information regarding private FAMLI programs.

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Employers, It’s Happening! New York State Enacts Pay Transparency Law

On December 21, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed Senate Bill S9427A (the NY Law), which requires covered employers to include salary or wage range—and the job description—in job postings.  The NY Law will go into effect on September 17, 2023.  New York joins a growing trend of wage transparency efforts by a number of states, counties and cities as a way to close the wage gap for women and workers of color.  With New York, approximately 20 percent of the American population will live or work in a state requiring pay transparency.

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