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27 May

May 2021 Pennsylvania HR Legal Updates

Posted at

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Philadelphia Passes Law Restricting Pre-Employment Marijuana Tests

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

What happened?
On April 28, 2021, Bill No. 200625 was passed by Mayor Kenney.

What are the details?
Bill No. 200625 was signed to be effective as of January 1, 2022. This bill prohibits employers from requiring prospective employees to undergo testing for the presence of marijuana as a condition of employment. This bill does not impact all employers, the prohibition does not apply to individuals applying to work in the following professions.

  • Police officer or other law enforcement positions;
  • Any position requiring a commercial driver’s license;
  • Any position requiring the supervision or care of children, medical patients, disabled or other vulnerable individuals;
  • Any position in which the employee could significantly impact the health or safety of other employees or members of the public, as determined by the enforcement agency and set forth in regulations pursuant to the bill.

It also does not apply to drug testing required pursuant to:

  • Any federal or state statute, regulation, or order that requires drug testing of prospective employees for purposes of safety or security;
  • Any contract between the federal government and an employer, or any grant of financial assistance from the federal government to an employer that requires drug testing of prospective employees as a condition of receiving the contract or grant; or
  • Any applicants whose prospective employer is a party to a valid collective bargaining agreement that specifically addresses the pre-employment drug testing of such applicants.

The bill will also require that the agency, which is decided by the mayor, will be tasked with the responsibility for enforcement to make the regulations widely known for the implementation and administration of the new requirements.

The bill can be read here.

A reference article can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should follow the guidelines listed in the bill to continue to stay in compliance once the bill is active.

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Philadelphia Updates Workplace Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

What happened?
On May 11, 2021, Bill No. 210249 was passed into law.

What are the details?
Bill No. 210249 was passed into law on May 11, 2021, and to be immediately enacted to strengthen workplace protections for victims of domestic violence. The bill adds “coercive control” to the definition of “domestic abuse” under the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces bill used by the city’s unpaid safe time leave ordinance: Entitlement to Leave due to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking Ordinance.

Under both laws, “coercive control” will mean:

“A pattern of threatening, humiliating, or intimidating actions toward an individual used to punish or frighten the individual, including but not limited to a pattern of behavior that, in effect, takes away the individual’s liberty, freedom, or sense of self, safety, or bodily integrity; including, but not limited to, a pattern of one or more of the following actions:

  • Isolating the victim from support networks;
  • Controlling the victim’s economic and other resources, such as transportation;
  • Closely monitoring the victim’s activities, communications, or movements;
  • Repetitively degrading and demeaning the victim;
  • Threatening to kill or harm the victim or the victim’s children or relatives or pets; or to take steps to separate the victim from the victim’s children and or pets;
  • Threatening to publish or publishing sexualized, false, or embarrassing information, videos, photographs, or other depictions of the victim;
  • Damaging or taking the victim’s property or possessions;
  • Displaying or referring to weapons as a means to intimidate or threaten; or
  • Forcing the victim to engage in unlawful activity.”

Both of the ordinances will allow employees to take job-protected leave for reasons not limited to themselves, but also if a family member is a victim of domestic violence. The amounts for leave and pay status will be varied based on the employer size and type of leave being requested.

Bill No. 210249 can be read here.

A reference article can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the law and guidance to ensure compliance with the new definition.

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Reminder: Unemployment Notice Requirements for Pennsylvania Employers

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

What happened?
In March 2020, Governor Wolf signed Act 9 of 2020.

What are the details?
Employers should remember that while Act 9 was signed in response to the pandemic, it is a permanent requirement for any laid-off employee who may make an unemployment claim. The notice requirement of Act 9 must include the following information:

  1. The “availability of unemployment compensation benefits to workers who are unemployed and who meet the requirements” of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law;
  2. The “ability of an employee to file an unemployment compensation claim in the first week that employment stops or work hours are reduced” (i.e. eliminating the seven-day waiting period);
  3. The “availability of assistance or information about an unemployment compensation claim” on the website of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry or by calling its toll-free phone number (888) 313-7284; and
  4. “That the employee will need certain information to file a claim, including:
    1. the employee’s full legal name;
    2. the employee’s Social Security number; and
    3. if not a citizen or resident of the United States, authorization to work in the United States.”

The Department of Labor and Industry has provided a template notice for employers to use, which can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should ensure they are complying with the notice requirement. If they are not already, employers should adopt the model notice provided by the Department of Labor and Industry to remove any uncertainty in compliance with the requirement.

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