Employment Law

Since 2020, with the adoption of Washington state’s non-compete statute (Chapter 49.62 of the Revised Code of Washington (“RCW 49.62”)), Washington has imposed significant restrictions on employer use of non-compete agreements with employees and independent contractors, permitting such agreements only subject to certain statutory and common-law requirements, including without limitation, a minimum annual earnings threshold (the 2024 limits are $120,559.99 for employees and $301,399.98 for independent contractors), and a Washington forum for any disputes.

Now, Senate Bill 5935 (“SB 5935”) – which takes effect on June 6, 2024 – amends the non-compete statute to further restrict the use of non-compete provisions and expand the types of agreements that may be considered non-competes. As a result, employers will need to take quick action to review their employment agreements and hiring processes to ensure compliance with the new law.

However, as discussed in our Covington Alert, on April 23, 2024 the Federal Trade Commission issued a final rule purporting to ban the use of non-competes with most U.S. workers.  The FTC Rule – should it become effective – would supersede inconsistent state laws.  The earliest the FTC Rule would take effect is late August 2024, and pending legal challenges may result in court orders that could delay or stay enforcement of the FTC Rule. Accordingly, employers with workers in Washington State should take steps to comply with SB 5935 before it takes effect on June 6, 2024.  Employers should also consider consulting with employment and executive compensation counsel for assistance with navigating the evolving non-compete landscape.

Here is an overview of the key changes under SB 5935:Continue Reading Changes to WA’s Non-Compete Law Require Employers to Take Action

From as soon as 1 January 2024, the UK Government is implementing a wide range of new employment law that will affect organizations with UK operations. Below is a handy table summarizing key changes and start dates.

Some critical issues for employers include: (i) stronger workplace protections against sexual harassment; (ii) increased employee flexible working rights; (iii) new holiday pay rules; (iv) new employee rights to request predictable working terms; (v) rights for agency workers to request jobs at client companies; and (vi) changes to TUPE. Continue Reading Eight Imminent Key Changes to UK Employment Law

On September 6, 2023, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, published a white paper addressing artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential benefits and risks in the workplace, as well as in the health care  context, which we discuss here.

The whitepaper notes that employers

As we discussed in a previous post, effective January 1, 2023, California employers must include pay scales in job postings, and a similar bill in New York was awaiting signature by Governor Kathy Hochul. The California Labor Commissioner has now issued guidance to assist employers in complying with the new law, and the New York State bill was signed into law on December 21, 2022 and is set to take effect on September 17, 2023.

California

The California Labor Commissioner recently published FAQs (adding to existing FAQs under the state’s equal pay law) with insights for employers on some gray areas in the new law:

Threshold for coverage.The FAQs clarify that an employer is covered by the pay transparency requirements if it reaches the threshold of 15 employees at any point in a pay period they compensate their workers at the minimum higher wage rate for the duration of the entire pay period and going forward as long as they have a minimum of 15 employees. Also, all employees, regardless of the number of hours worked or geographical location, will be included in the count, so long as there is at least one employee located in California.

Job postings for remote positions.The Labor Commissioner interprets the new law to mean that the pay scale must be included on a posting if the position may ever be filled in California, whether in-person or remote.

Information to include in job postings.The FAQs confirm that “pay scale” means the salary or hourly wage range that the employer reasonably expects to pay for a position, and can include just a set hourly or piece rate, rather than a range, if that is what the employer intends to pay. If the position’s hourly or salary wage rate will be based on a piece rate or commissions, the piece rate or commission range must be included in the job posting; however, the posting does not need to include bonuses, tips, or other compensation or tangible benefits provided in addition to a salary or hourly wage. Finally, the Labor Commissioner states that the pay scale must be expressly stated in the posting, and it will not be sufficient to comply with the new law to take shortcuts such as linking the salary range in an electronic posting or including a QR code in a paper posting that will then take the applicant to the salary information.Continue Reading Update on California and New York Pay Transparency Laws

Mandatory gender pay gap reporting is new to Ireland and is likely to attract media attention and potential comparisons, particularly for multinational and higher profile companies.  Deciding how best to communicate the gender pay gap – if it exists – will be important in averting any particular anxieties which may arise for employees and their representatives in particular. 

Ireland’s unadjusted 11.3% gender pay gap, last reported in 2019, is below the then EU average of 14.4% (down to 13% in 2020 without Ireland, Greece and the UK reporting) and is explained largely by education, occupation, working time and enterprise size.  It is pretty typical of most other EU states and addressing the EU gender pay gap is a key focus for the EC’s gender equality policy.  It is also important for Europe in addressing the estimated 30.1% pension gap feeding the at-risk-of-poverty rate disparity between the sexes.

What organisations are in scope?

The first compliance deadline looms this December for employers of more than 250 employees.  The workforce threshold numbers will decline on a staggered basis over the next two years but smaller employers with less than 50 employees are exempt.

Picking a snapshot date for reporting

The Employment Equality Act 1998 (Section 20A)(Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2022 detail the reporting requirements for employers in Ireland.  Organisations in scope this year (having more than 250 employees) are required to pick a snapshot date from last June and to report the results no later than 6 months later, December 2022. Continue Reading New Gender Pay Gap reporting – deadlines loom in Ireland

Many employers and employment agencies have turned to artificial intelligence (“AI”) tools to assist them in making better and faster employment decisions, including in the hiring and promotion processes.  The use of AI for these purposes has been scrutinized and will now be regulated in New York City.  The New York City Department of Consumer

A new law signed by President Biden brings significant changes to employers’ ability to require arbitration of certain disputes with employees and could lead to an increase in sexual assault and sexual harassment claims against employers in court.  On March 3, 2022, President Biden signed into law the “Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault

In a development that will sound familiar to employers, California has reinstated the requirement, which had expired last fall, to make available to employees up to 80 hours of COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (“Supplemental Sick Leave”).  The new measure, Senate Bill (“SB”) 114, was signed by Governor Newsom on February 9, 2022, and the requirement to provide the new sick leave went into effect on February 19. Employees may use the new sick leave retroactive to January 1, 2022.

New Supplemental Sick Leave Requirements

Following is an overview of the new and more expansive requirements under SB 114, which applies to employers with more than 25 employees.

Hours of Leave.  Full-time employees are entitled to up to 80 total hours of Supplemental Sick Leave for specified reasons and divided into two 40-hour buckets, described below.  Part-time employees are entitled to prorated leave equivalent to either their typical hours worked in a week, or seven multiplied by the average number of hours they have worked each day in the last six months.

The two buckets of leave are as follows:

First, full-time employees may use up to 40 hours of Supplemental Sick Leave when they are unable to work or telework for any of these reasons:

The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation period related to COVID-19, as defined by an order or guidelines of the California Department of Public Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer who has jurisdiction over the workplace (if the employee is subject to more than one order/guideline, the employee may use Supplemental Sick Leave for the minimum quarantine or isolation period under the order or guidance that provides for the longest such minimum period);
Continue Reading California Reinstates and Updates COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for 2022

Governor Newsom recently signed into law SB 331 to impose a number of new restrictions on employment settlement, separation, and nondisclosure agreements. Here’s an overview of the new requirements, which apply to agreements entered into on or after January 1, 2022:

First, for settlement agreements involving claims of harassment or discrimination based on any protected