By Matthew D. Lowe
This article originally appeared in the Jan./Feb edition of the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association's Lodging News.
The new year and a new session of the Oregon Legislature are upon us. From amended laws concerning room taxes and union agreements, to pay equity and scheduling regulations, we should take a moment to reflect on laws passed in the 2017 legislative session impacting the hospitality industry.
HB 2005 Pay Equity
Oregon has long prohibited discrimination between sexes in the payment of wages for work of comparable character. HB 2005 expands this prohibition to explicitly prohibit employers from paying people less based not only on gender, but also on race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, disability or age. The intent of this law is to eradicate alleged unfair pay practices. To further this goal, the new law imposes restrictions on the ability of employers to screen applicants on the basis of current or past employment history, seek salary history of an applicant or employee before an offer of employment is made, and to determine compensation for a position based upon current or past compensation of a prospective employee. Employers may pay different wages for work of a comparable character where the difference is based on a bona fide factor that is related to the position and is based on a seniority system, piece-rate work, a merit system, workplace locations, travel, education, training, experience, or a combination of these factors. While, several important aspects of the law will not take effect until January 1, 2019, the prohibition against seeking the pay history of an applicant or employee from the applicant or employee, or from a current or former employer of the applicant or employee, went into effect on October 6, 2017.
HB 3008 False Employment Records
This new law prohibits employers from compelling, coercing, or otherwise inducing or attempting to induce an employee to create, file, or sign documents which the employer knows are false in regards to hours worked or compensation received. An example of where this might occur is where employers try to get employees to clock out or sign time sheets that end a work shift even though the employee worked past the end of the shift. This new legislation provides for a private cause of action, an award of actual damages or a $1,000 for each violation, injunctive relief, and attorney fees to the employee if he or she prevails in the lawsuit.
SB 1040 Union Security Agreements
Union security agreements are agreements between employers and private sector union that require, as a condition of employment, membership in the union. This law ensures that private sector labor organizations may enter unto these agreements to the full extent allowed by federal law. SB 1040 was passed in reaction to a recent decision by the Sixth Circuit Court of appeals (UAW v. Hardin County) where the court recognized the right of local governments to enact ordinances banning union security agreements.
SB 828 Predictive Scheduling
Oregon’s new predictive scheduling law follows on the heels of similar laws passed in San Francisco and Seattle. Oregon’s law applies to those employers with 500 or more employees worldwide. The law requires employers to post work schedules at least seven days in advance of employees’ shifts. Enforcement of this provision does not start until January 1, 2019. Beginning January 1, 2020, schedules must be posted 14 days in advance. Employers with collective bargaining agreements are not exempt from SB 828’s requirements.
SB 828 also requires employers to provide employees with a written, good faith estimate of the worker’s schedule at the time of hire. Employers are also no longer allowed to schedule employees within 10 hours of their last shift. If an employer needs to change the work schedule after the date that advance notice is required, the employer must meet several requirements to satisfy the new law and will likely have to pay additional compensation to the employee impacted by the change. This compensation may be either one hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay where time is added to a scheduled work shift, or one-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employer reduces the scheduled work shift of an employee. Employers may not require employees to work shifts that were not part of their written work schedules. To alleviate some of the burden on employers, the law allows for the creation of voluntary standby lists, which is expected to help employers deal with unexpected absences or last-second changes to their work needs.
SB 299 Sick Leave Accrual
In 2015, Oregon adopted a statewide paid sick leave law requiring employers with 10 or more employees (6 or more in Portland) to provide 40 hours of protected paid sick leave to employees each year. Starting January 1, 2018, SB 299 clarifies that employers can limit the accrual of both paid and unpaid sick time to 40 hours per year. As originally written, the law specifically allowed employers to limit the amount of carryover sick hours from one year to the next, but it was unclear whether an employer could limit sick time accrual within a single year. Now, the Legislature has clarified that employees can have a maximum sick leave bank of 80 hours, but only if they have 40 hours from a prior year and 40 hours from the current year.
HB 2400 Transient Lodging Taxes
This law amends ORS 305.620 to add local lodging taxes to the list of taxes that the Oregon Department of Revenue can agree to administer and/or collect on behalf of the local jurisdiction.
HB 3180 Transient Lodging Taxes – Intergovernmental Disclosure of Taxpayer Information
This new law governs the type of information that a local lodging tax authority and the Department of Revenue may disclose to each other and provides procedures governing confidentiality of the exchanged information. Confidential information includes information on state transient lodging tax returns, information in state transient lodging tax reports from which information about a particular taxpayer may be determined, and any other information or reports exchanged by the local government and Department of Revenue relating to transient lodging taxpayers that is confidential under state law.
HB 2017 New 0.1% Gross Wages Tax
As part of the state’s new transportation funding bill, the Oregon Legislature imposed a new 0.1% tax on the wages of Oregon residents and the wages of nonresidents for services performed in Oregon. The entire amount will be withheld from the employee wages and there is no provision to collect from employees. This new wage tax applies to tax periods beginning on or after July 1, 2018.