New Fiscal Year & New Laws

June 27, 2020

I was prompted by one of our more astute members to do a quick review of the laws that were passed in the last Session of the General Assembly which go into effect this week so I could point out things that may affect us as providers/employers; there are only a couple of issues:
  • Possession of small quantities (1 ounce or less) of marijuana is no longer a crime, but rather a civil offense ($25 fine).  That does not necessarily require any change to your policy about use while on duty, but may require that you name marijuana specifically depending on how your policy is written.
  • The law now specifically prohibits an employer from requiring that an applicant disclose information concerning arrest, criminal charge or conviction when the record relating to such is not open for public inspection.  The law, effective July 1, 2020, does prohibit disclosure of records re simple possession of marijuana except in certain circumstances.
  • You may wish to have your application and related documents reviewed by your attorney; keep in mind that while these charges/convictions should not show up on the Criminal Background information, if they do, it would not be grounds for discipline for an employee who had not disclosed that information.
  • There was also successful legislation which modified the law requiring employers to pay earned wages; the significant change was in the remedies against a person who “knowingly” fails to make payment of wages.
  • There is now a prohibition against the discharge or any other retaliation against an employee who discloses his own or any other employee’s  wages or other compensation; this does not protect those individuals who know wage information as part of their job duties. And,
  • There is now a prohibition against the discharge or any other retaliation against an employee who files a complaint about an employee’s misclassification – usually related to an employee classified as a contract employee, but who meets the legal test of being an employee, or one who is classified as exempt from overtime, but who should receive overtime by his/her salary level or job duties.
  • Last, but certainly not least, the minimum wage increase has been pushed back to May, 1 2021 when it will increase to $9.50 – sadly one of the losses in the budget caused by the COVID Recession was the funding for DMAS to develop a plan to adjust rates as the minimum wage increased.  It, along with the psychiatric rates and the DD Waivers Refresh will be our focus in the Special Session in August.