Clyde Snow

2018 Utah Legislative Guide on Employment Issues

by | Jan 18, 2018

The 2018 Utah Legislature begins on Monday, January 22, and a record number of bills have been filed this year – more than 1,100 – which will make for a busy session for lawmakers. Depending on how you look at it, there are seven bills that affect private employers, while an additional two bills that strictly affect public employees may, if passed, have an effect on private employers in the coming years. I have summarized each of the bills’ most important points and will update them as things change throughout the session.

For assistance navigating how these bills may affect you and your company, contact the Labor & Employment Group at Clyde Snow & Sessions at 801.322.2516.

Impactful Bills for Private Employers

HB 117 – Hourly Wage Increase Amendments

Sponsor: Rep. Lynn Hemingway (D-Millcreek)

            This bill would increase the minimum wage to $10.25 starting July 1, 2018 and to $12.00 starting July 1, 2022. The Utah Labor Commission would be permitted to establish a separate minimum wage for minor employees under the age of 16 years old. The bill would still prohibit cities, towns, and counties from setting a minimum wage higher than this new amount, but sets the state minimum wage as the standard as opposed to the federal minimum wage, which is currently the standard. If passed, Utah would join 13 other states whose minimum wages exceed $10.00 per hour.

HB 118 – Cash Wage Obligation Minimum for Tipped Employees

Sponsor: Rep. Lynn Hemingway (D-Millcreek)

            This bill would increase the hourly rate for tipped employees from $2.13 per hour currently established by the Labor Commission to $3.25 per hour. The cash wage obligation would be statutory and the Labor Commission would no longer have the authority to set the amount.  

HB 30 – Utah Antidiscrimination Act Amendments

Sponsor: Rep. James Dunnigan (R-Taylorsville)

This bill makes changes to the Utah Antidiscrimination Act that (1) removes the Utah Antidiscrimination and Labor Division’s (UALD) power to hold a hearing when a complaint is received; (2) instructs the UALD to assign a mediator (as opposed to the previously-assigned investigator) to offer mediation services in an attempt to settle the case prior to an investigation; (3) allows for the UALD to attempt settlement between the parties; and (4) removes the ability of the complaining party to amend the allegations.  

SB 75 – Workers’ Compensation Penalty Amendments

Sponsor: Sen. Daniel Hemmert (R-Orem)

            This bill provides for the Division of Industrial Accidents to reduce or waive entirely penalties imposed on employers who fail to procure workers’ compensation insurance.

The division could waive the penalty if the following are true: (1) the violation is the employer’s first violation; (2) the period of noncompliance was less than 180 days; (3) the employer has since remedied the noncompliance; (4) no employee reported an injury during the period of noncompliance; or (5) the employer is a corporation whose employees are all officers and who has become compliant.

The division could reduce the penalty if: (1) the violation is the employer’s first violation; (2) the employer has since remedied the noncompliance; (3) no employee reported an injury during the period of noncompliance; and (4) the employer, upon request from the division, submits its payroll records for the period of noncompliance. If a reduction of the penalty is granted, it shall be reduced by the “amount equal to the premium the employer would have paid for workers’ compensation insurance” based on the supplied payroll records.

      Procedurally, the bill would require the division – as opposed to the current voluntary nature – to deliver a written notice of the noncompliance to the employer and, if necessary, issue an order requiring an employer to appear before the division and show cause why the employer should not be required to comply with workers’ compensation insurance laws.

Impactful Bills Exclusively for Public Employers

HB 156 – Family Leave Amendments

Sponsor: Rep. Elizabeth Weight (D-West Valley City)

            This bill would require executive branch agencies and higher education employers (including public universities) to provide six weeks of paid parental leave to any qualifying employee for the birth or adoption of a child. A “qualifying employee” is any male or female employee who has been employed for at least the preceding 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours during that period.

            During the 2016 session, Rep. Angela Romero (D-Salt Lake City) introduced a nearly-identical bill that did not pass. If passed, Utah would become one of only five states that provide paid parental leave for public employees (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York currently provide such leave). Though this bill will only impact public employees, if passed, it may signal a shift in the private sector as well toward paid family leave.

HB 133 – Employment Amendments

Sponsor: Rep. Craig Hall (R-West Valley City)

            HB 133 would expand the definition of “relative” to include romantic partners, making it so that the nepotism rules for public employees would extend to such partners. In determining what constitutes a romantic partner, the length and depth of the relationship, nature of the partners’ interactions, and affirmation of the relationship by the partners, among others, may be considered.   

Bills With Changes You Won’t Notice 

SB 40 – Workers’ Compensation Dependent Benefit Amendments

Sponsor: Sen. Karen Mayne (D-West Valley City)

            This bill makes a small change to the weekly benefit provided to spouses and dependents from workers’ compensation. The weekly benefit per spouse or dependent would increase from $5 to $20.  

SB 53 – Workers’ Compensation Coordination of Benefits Amendments

Sponsor: Sen. Karen Mayne (D-West Valley City)

            SB 53 simply eliminates outdated language relating to dates of repeal within the statute. Two subsections were set for repeal on July 1, 2018, and this bill would merely eliminate such language.

SB 64 – Workers’ Compensation Health Care Amendments

Sponsor: Sen. Karen Mayne (D-West Valley City)

            As with SB 53, this bill merely eliminates outdated time language.  

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