The 2017 Utah legislative session was a busy one, with over 500 bills being passed. While only a few of these bills were employment-related, it’s important to know what was passed, as well as what didn’t pass, so you can implement required changes within your organization. By learning what was presented by your local representatives, it will hopefully encourage you to stay in tune with what is happening on a state level that could potentially impact how you handle certain aspects of your business.
The only bill that passed this session which affects HR is an amendment to the currently in force Utah Payment of Wages Act. All employers in Utah should know that if you terminate an employee, for whatever reason, you must pay out those wages within 24 hours of the termination. In 2017, this act was amended to include a penalty of up to 60 days’ worth of additional wages for failure to pay any wages due, should the employee provide a demand in writing. The take-away from this is that if you are haggling over whether or not to pay out that $200 final commission payment, you could be on the hook for two months’ worth of the terminated employee’s salary. https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title34/Chapter28/34-28-S3.html
H.B. 147 would’ve raised the minimum wage in Utah to $10.25/hour effective July 1st and included annual raises to reach $15.00/hour by July 2022. This bill did not pass. https://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/HB0147.html
H.B. 242 was introduced to extend benefits under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to employers in Utah with 30 or more employees. The federal threshold is 50 or more employees. This bill did not pass. https://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/HB0242.html
A study by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce found that 49% of Utah employers use non-compete agreements. H.B. 81 would have placed more restrictions on employers when using these agreements, making them harder to enforce. While this bill was certainly a hot topic for this year’s session, it did not pass. https://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/HB0081.html
H.B. 112 would have provided business owners who allow a concealed carry permit holder to carry a firearm onto the owner’s premises to not be liable, criminally or civilly, for damage or harm resulting from the discharge of that firearm. This bill did not pass. https://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/HB0112.html
“Ban the Box” is a national effort to remove questions about a job applicant’s criminal past. H.B. 156 would’ve made it so that all Utah employers would be restricted on what they could ask a potential employee in regards to their criminal past. This bill did not pass across the board for all employers, however, beginning May 1st, public employers will be required to follow the “Ban the Box” rules. Even though this didn’t pass, employers would be well-served to take a second look at why and how they are using this information when filling job openings. If you are not careful, you could be open to a lawsuit alleging discriminatory hiring practices. https://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/HB0156.html
S.B. 210 included equal pay amendments for equal payment of wages; not just for those doing the same job, but for those doing a “comparable” job. This did not pass. https://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/SB0210.html
H.B. 213 would have allowed for employees to sue in state court for discrimination issues. It would have also allowed for compensatory and punitive damages on state discrimination claims (currently, these are only allowed under federal law). This bill did not pass. https://le.utah.gov/~2017/bills/static/HB0213.html
While there wasn’t any major impact to Utah employers as a result of this year’s legislative session, there could have been some big changes that would’ve affected how you do certain things within your business. It’s important that employers speak up and be heard by their local representatives. Who better to know what is good and what isn’t good for your business besides you as the business owner?
The contents of this article should not be construed as legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel should you have questions regarding any legislation, state or federal, that may affect your business.