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January 2020 Florida HR Legal Updates

31 Jan

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Medical Marijuana

What happened?
This is the first bill filed in the Florida Legislature that would provide job protections for medical marijuana cardholders in Florida. The bill has a section covering public employers, the Medical Marijuana Public Employee Protection Act, and another section covering private employers, the Medical Marijuana Employee Protection Act. Both sections would prohibit “an employer from taking adverse personnel action against an employee or job applicant who is a qualified patient using medical marijuana,” require “an employer to provide written notice to an employee or job applicant who tests positive for marijuana of his or her right to explain the positive test result,” and to confirm testing before taking adverse action if there is no response by the employee or applicant as to the result.

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What are the details?
Employers would not be required to extend protections to positions with “safety-sensitive job duties.” An employer may also take appropriate adverse personnel action against any employee if it “establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the lawful use of medical marijuana is impairing the employee’s ability to perform his or her job responsibilities,” particularly “if the employee displays specific articulable symptoms while working which decrease or lessen the performance of his or her duties or tasks.” “Safety-sensitive” is broadly defined to include tasks or duties of a job which the employer reasonably believes could affect the safety and health of the employee performing the tasks or duties or other persons, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

  1. The handling, packaging, processing, storage, disposal, or transport of hazardous materials.
  2. The operation of a motor vehicle, equipment, machinery, or power tools.
  3. The repair, maintenance, or monitoring of any equipment, machinery, or manufacturing process, the malfunction or disruption of which could result in injury or property damage.
  4. The performance of firefighting duties.
  5. The operation, maintenance, or oversight of critical services and infrastructure, including, but not limited to, electric, gas, and water utilities or power generation or distribution.
  6. The extraction, compression, processing, manufacturing, handling, packaging, storage, disposal, treatment, or transport of potentially volatile, flammable, combustible materials, elements, chemicals, or any other highly regulated component.
  7. The dispensing of pharmaceuticals.
  8. The carrying of a firearm.
  9. The direct care of a patient or child.

What do employers need to do?
Employers need to review their interview and hiring practices to ensure compliance, as well review new hire paperwork.

Bill: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/962; https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/595

Article: https://ogletree.com/insights/2020-01-14/new-year-new-legislative-session-greets-florida-employers/

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Family Leave Act

What happened?

Florida Family Leave Act will take effect July 1, 2020.

What are the details?
The proposed Florida Family Leave Act would require employers to allow employees who work an average of 20 or more hours per week and who have been employed for at least 18 months to take up to three months of paid family leave to bond with a minor child upon the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. This bill would also expressly prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, and provide for leave, maintenance of health coverage, reasonable accommodation, and job return rights for an employee who is disabled from pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. This version of the bill may prove to be problematic for employers because it covers part-time employees without defining a look-back period for the 20-hours-per-week determination. It is also unclear how these requirements would interact with short-term disability benefits, as well as how spouses/parents who work for the same employer would be treated.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should prepare for the Act to take place by reviewing employee handbooks and making the proper modifications to reflect the new leave.

Bill: http://flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/1194/BillText/Filed/HTML

Article: https://ogletree.com/insights/2020-01-14/new-year-new-legislative-session-greets-florida-employers/

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Heat Illness Prevention

What happened?
This is the first bill that would require Florida “employers in industries where employees regularly perform work in an outdoor environment, including, but not limited to, agriculture, construction and landscaping,” to provide drinking water, shade, and annual training to employees and supervisors. This takes effect October 1, 2020.

What are the details?
The bill would further require the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Department of Health “to adopt specified rules.” The requirements would give teeth to similar heat illness prevention guidance published by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

What do employers need to do?
Employers need to prepare for the law in October and gather supplies needed to ensure compliance.

Bill: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/513

Article: https://ogletree.com/insights/2020-01-14/new-year-new-legislative-session-greets-florida-employers/

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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