Bill Summaries: S339 (2015-2016 Session)

  • Summary date: Mar 19 2015 - View summary

    Identical to H 270 filed on 3/17/15.

    Enacts new Article 3A of GS Chapter 95, to be cited as the Healthy Families and Healthy Workplaces Act (HFHW Act). Denotes that state public policy in promoting the general welfare of the people of North Carolina requires the enactment of new Article 3A under the police power of the state.

    Provides definitions for the following terms as used in the HFHW Act: (1) child, (2) domestic violence, (3) employee, (4) employ, (5) employer, (6) federal act, (7) health care provider, (8) immediate family member, (9) parent, (10) paid sick time or paid sick days, (11) sexual assault, (12) stalking, and (13) small business.

    Provides that the proposed HFHW Act does not apply to (1) bona fide volunteers in an organization where an employer-employee relationship does not exist or (2) any person who is exempt from the Wage and Hour Act under GS 95-25.14(a)(2) through (8), GS 95-25.14(b), GS 95-25.14 (b1), GS 95-25.14(c), and GS 95-25.14(e). Makes an exception regarding domestic workers, providing that they are exempt only if they are employed in the place of residence of their employer.

    Provides that paid sick time begins to accrue at the start of employment at a rate of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Provides additional guidelines regarding discretionary advancement of sick time by the employer, limits on the amount of paid sick time accrued, and the accrual of paid sick time when there is a separation of employment followed by a rehiring by the same employer. Provides that with the exception of the specified exemptions to the proposed HFHW Act, any employee who works in North Carolina and who must be absent from work for the reasons delineated in proposed new GS 95-31.5(a) is entitled to paid sick time.  

    Directs that paid sick time is to be provided by an employer to an employee who meets any of the following reasons listed in proposed new GS 95-31.5: (1) to care for a member of the employee's immediate family suffering from health issues or to care for the employee's own health, unless the care is covered under federal law or (2) to allow an employee to address the psychological, physical, or legal effects on himself or herself or an immediate family member of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Permits the employer to require certification of the qualifying health issue or event when a paid sick time period covers more than three consecutive work days. Provides guidelines for determining what may be deemed acceptable certification. Provides that an employer may not require certification from a health care provider that is employed by the employer. Prohibits an employer from requiring the disclosure of details relating to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or an employee's medical condition as a condition of providing paid sick time to an employee. Directs an employer to treat as confidential any information that the employer acquires about the employee or the employee's immediate family regarding domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or health conditions. Prohibits the employer from requiring an employee to secure a replacement worker as a condition of providing sick time under the proposed HFHW Act. Directs the employee to make a good faith effort, when the use of sick time is foreseeable, to provide the employer with advance notice. States that this act provides minimum requirements regarding paid sick time and should not be construed to limit, preempt, or otherwise affect other applicability of law, regulation, or policy that extends additional or greater protections to employees, nor should this proposed act be construed to discourage employers from adopting more generous paid sick time policies. Provides that employers already offering a paid sick time policy do not have to modify that policy providing that the paid sick time policy currently in place offers an employee, at his or her discretion, the option to take paid sick time that is equivalent to the amount and for the same purposes offered under the proposed HFHW Act.

    Requires employers to provide notice to employees, in Spanish and English, of their entitlement to paid sick time as well as other related information. Notice may be provided by supplying each employee with a notice in Spanish and English or by conspicuously displaying a poster in the place of employment in both languages. Prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who request or use paid sick time. Provides that an employee has a right to file a complaint with the Commissioner of Labor (Commissioner) or in the General Court of Justice if an employer (1) denies an employee paid sick time or (2) retaliates against an employee for requesting or taking paid sick time.

    Authorizes the Commissioner to enforce and administer the provisions of the proposed HFHW Act. Provides criteria regarding employer's liability for a violation under the proposed HFHW Act, including provisions for the potential awarding of liquidated damages for a violation of the act. Directs that actions under the proposed HFHW Act must be brought within two years pursuant to GS 1-53. Also provides that the rights and remedies created under the HFHW Act are supplementary to all existing common law and statutory rights and remedies. Directs the Commissioner to adopt rules to implement the proposed act. Provides that the provisions of the proposed act are severable.

    Makes conforming changes to GS 95-241(a).

    Contains a number of whereas clauses.

    Effective July 1, 2015, and applies only to covered employment on or after that date and does not apply to any collective bargaining agreement entered into before July 1, 2015, still in effect on that date.