03 Aug

July 2020 Virginia HR Legal Updates

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Virginia Becomes First State to Implement Emergency Workplace Safety Rules Related to COVID-19

What happened?
The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board created and approved new emergency standards to try and prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

What are the details?
Following an executive order on May 26, 2020, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Safety and Health Codes Board has created and finalized new rules as of July 27, 2020, for Virginia employers to follow. Some of the new rules include:

  • When multiple employees are occupying a vehicle for work purposes, the employer shall ensure compliance with respiratory protection and personal protective equipment standards applicable to its industry.
  • Where the nature of an employee’s work or the work area does not allow them to observe physical distance requirements, employers shall ensure compliance with respiratory protection and personal protective equipment standards applicable to its industry.
  • All common spaces, including bathrooms, frequently touched surfaces, and doors shall at a minimum be cleaned and disinfected at the end of each shift. All shared tools, equipment, workspaces, and vehicles shall be cleaned and disinfected prior to transfer from one employee to another.

Some entities will not be covered by these standards, such as public schools. The standards are temporary and will expire within six months or the end of the governor’s State of Emergency, or if they are replaced by permanent standards.

The full text of the standards can be found here.

Two articles discussing these changes in more depth can be found here and here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in Virginia that are bringing employees back into the workplace should review the new standards and update their company policies to stay in compliance.

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Virginia Passes Wage Payment Act Providing New Rights to Employees

What happened?
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam approved a new bill (HB-123/SB-838) that overhauled the Virginia Wage Payment Act’s (“VWPA”) enforcement mechanisms, effective July 1, 2020.

What are the details?
The new rules applied to the VWPA will allow employees to file suit within three years of the cause of action occurring. This does not exclude them from exhausting their administrative remedies beforehand, as well. The employee may still file a claim with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. Any private lawsuit filed under the VWPA will also have the option of being filed individually or as a collection action, governed by the same procedures as collection actions under the FLSA. In instances where employers knowingly violate the act or show a reckless disregard for the truth of the falsity of the information (the false pay information provided to the employee), the employee may recover treble damages. Furthermore, the new law requires paystubs to include the following information:

  • The employer’s name and address;
  • The number of hours worked by the employee during the pay period;
  • The employee’s rate of pay;
  • The gross wages earned by the employee during the pay period; and
  • The amount and purpose of any deductions. The full text of HB-123 can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers in Virginia should update their company payroll policies and ensure that their paystubs being issued to employees are compliant.

Summary of Laws with Upcoming Effective Dates

New Hire Reporting
Effective September 1, 2020, newly hired independent contractors must be reported according to the same requirements as newly hired employees if they have not previously had a contract with an employer or have previously entered into a contract with an employer and have received a payment based on the contract after receiving no payments for at least 60 consecutive days.

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