January 27, 2017

2017 Indiana Legislative Update: Employment Law Bills to Watch

The Indiana General Assembly returned for its 2017 session on January 3, 2017. While the budget is a central focus this year, there are many employment-related bills that have been introduced that could have a significant impact on employers if passed into law. This update provides brief, high-level summaries of proposed bills to monitor as session progresses. The bills can also be read in their entirety through the Indiana General Assembly website.

Competing Proposals to Raise Minimum Wage

SB 252 Minimum Wage. Increases the state minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.62 an hour. Currently, Indiana follows the federal minimum wage, but there are 29 states plus the District of Columbia that have rates set higher than the federal minimum wage.

SB 318 Minimum Wage. Proposes that the minimum wage paid to certain employees increases in Indiana from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour after June 30, 2018. The bill also stipulates that after June 30, 2019, and each subsequent June 30, the hourly minimum wage increases at the same percentage as any increase in the Consumer Price Index for the preceding calendar year.

Multiple Potential Paid Leave Requirements

SB 3 Paid Personal Leave. Urges the legislative council to assign to a study committee paid personal leave from employment in 2017. In theory, bills creating such committees are precursors to the laws themselves, though a number of factors can prevent such laws from ever being enacted (even if the committee itself is created).

SB 253 Paid Family and Medical Leave Program. Requires the Commissioner of Labor to develop guidelines and procedures to establish a paid family and medical leave program that incorporates the findings and recommendations made by the Indiana Commission for Women and prepare an implementation plan for the program. Several states have paid family and medical leave programs beyond what is required under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), though Indiana has not historically shown much interest in joining them.

HB 1183 Employee Paid Sick Leave. Provides that certain employers shall provide paid sick leave to employees equal to one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of employment, up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave per year.

HB 1442 Paid Sick and Safe Leave. Provides that certain employers shall provide paid sick and safe leave to employees at a rate of one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours of employment. Establishes conditions to entitlement to sick and safe leave and requires the commissioner of labor to enforce paid sick and safe leave for employees.

A 'Double Overtime' Proposal

HB 1213 Overtime Compensation for Certain Employees. Provides that, under certain conditions, employees must be compensated 1.5 times the regular rate at which the employee is employed and, under certain circumstances, two times the regular rate at which the employee is employed.

New Prohibitions and Requirements Related to Criminal Background Inquiries

SB 338 Employers and Expungement. Prohibits questioning an individual applying for employment or a license about an expunged arrest or conviction during an interview. Violators commit a Class C infraction and the penalty increases to a Class B infraction for each subsequent violation.

HB 1267 Former Offenders. Prohibits a public employer from asking an applicant for information concerning the applicant's criminal record or history until the public employer has determined that the applicant meets the minimum employment qualifications. Does not apply to employment with a law enforcement agency or when federal or Indiana law provides otherwise.

Miscellaneous Other Employment Related Bills

SB 71 Fair Pay in Employment. Provides that it is unlawful to pay wages that discriminate based on sex, race or national origin for the same or equivalent jobs and gives the Civil Rights Commission jurisdiction in investigating and resolving complaints. This opens up the door for more charges to be filed with the ICRC relating to pay discrimination.

SB 75 Drug Testing of Unemployment Insurance Applicants. Requires claimants to pass a drug test to receive unemployment benefits if they were last discharged because of unlawful controlled substance use and their only available work is in an occupation that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has designated as regularly conducting drug testing.

SB 269 Protective Orders and Employment. Provides that an employer may not discriminate against an employee with respect to compensation, benefits, or terms and conditions of employment based on the employee's filing a petition for a protective order, or based on the actions of an individual against whom the employee has filed a protective order.

HB 1212 Work Sharing Unemployment Benefit. Establishes a work sharing unemployment insurance program and requires an employer to submit a work sharing plan for approval by the Department of Workforce Development. Establishes the work sharing benefit as equal to an employee's unemployment benefit reduced by a percentage that is equivalent to the number of hours by which the employee's normal weekly work hours are reduced.

HB 1240 Garnishment of Wages. Stipulates that if a judgment debtor leaves employment with an employer who is garnishing their wages, and the judgment debtor subsequently returns to employment with the same employee, the judgment creditor must obtain a new judgment against the judgment debtor before the employer is required to resume wage garnishment.

SB 34 Background Checks for School Employees. Provides that a school corporation, charter school, or nonpublic school shall conduct an expanded criminal history check and expanded child protection index check on each employee every five years. The program will be implemented over a five-year period. The employee is responsible for costs associated with obtaining the background checks.

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