Status of Business Bills in 2013 Legislature

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By  J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon Industries

 

Slew of Employment Law Issues Are Resolving as Session Ends

HB 2950 – Bereavement Leave: Amends Oregon’s Family Leave Law (OFLA) to allow up to two weeks of unpaid bereavement leave for eligible employees. Although AOI opposed the bill at the outset, the bill was narrowed down and agreements were made to allow an interim workgroup to study and make recommendations on how to reduce employers’ administrative burdens stemming from OFLA. Based on those amendments and agreements, AOI switched to ‘neutral’ on the bill. Passed Senate 22-6-2. Passed House 44-16. Awaiting Governor’s signature.

HB 2683 – Direct Deposit: AOI bill that allows employers to switch to electronic payroll systems at their discretion. Current law allows employers to implement direct deposit and other electronic payroll methods only upon an upfront agreement with the employee. HB 2683 eliminates the requirement that an employer must seek agreement with the employee in order to move to direct deposit of payroll. The legislation still allows an employee to request a paper paycheck. Passed Senate 30-0. Passed House 40-20. Awaiting Governor’s signature.

HB 3390 – Paid Sick Leave: Mandates paid sick leave policy for all businesses in Oregon with six or more employees. The bill required, at a minimum, that every Oregon business maintain a policy of at least one paid hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. AOI strongly opposed this legislation, arguing that it was effectively a 3% payroll tax on small business. Despite two public hearings, HB 3390 never received a vote. It will likely be the topic of an interim workgroup (of which AOI will participate) to study the issue and make recommendations. But in the meantime, HB 3390 is dead.

HB 3436 – State-Managed Retirement Fund for Private Sector: Perhaps one of the most interesting concepts of 2013 is HB 3436, which sets in place a process to develop a government-managed retirement fund for private sector employees. To date, AOI has opposed the legislation due to its prescriptive nature and that it purports to set up a government-managed retirement fund to compete in a marketplace of retirement funds and services that is already robust. AOI also notes with interest that Oregon’s government-managed public sector retirement fund has a $16 billion unfunded liability. No one has been able to adequately explain why the state would be any better at managing a retirement fund for the private sector. HB 3436 is still alive in the Ways & Means Committee.

HB 2112 – Civil Penalties for Unlawful Paycheck Deductions: This BOLI bill sought to levy civil penalties on employers for unlawful wage statements and for unlawful wage deductions. AOI opposed the bill. AOI asked for, and received, an amendment that would strip out the civil penalties for unlawful wage statements, leaving intact the provision that limited the bill to civil penalties for unlawful deductions. Although the bill passed the House, it was defeated on the Senate Floor. Passed House 44-15-1. Defeated in Senate 14-16. Tabled in the Senate.

SB 678 – Workers’ Comp Liability Protections for LLCs: AOI’s priority legislation for 2013, this bill affirms that owners and members of Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) are protected from personal liability stemming from workers’ compensation claims. This bill is in response to an adverse February 2012 ruling of the Oregon Court of Appeals, which ruled that Oregon LLC owners and members were not subject to the protections of Oregon’s workers’ compensation exclusive remedy law. With SB 678, owners and members of LLCs are given specific exclusive remedy protection. Passed Senate 28-0-2. Pending vote on House Floor. Governor Kitzhaber strongly supports the bill and will sign it pending passage in the House.

To view the above bills, click here.