It would seem as though the Nevada Legislature has declared war on small employers this legislative session with proposals to raise the minimum wage, require equal pay for equal work, and force Nevada employers with 50 or more employees that have operated in the state for at least one year to provide 24 hours (equivalent to three workdays) of paid sick leave per year. And that’s not all.
If paying an employee to “get a diagnosis,” “seek counseling,” and “attend court proceedings” isn’t enough, the measure would require employers to keep 3 years of records for every employee so the labor commissioner could inspect them at his leisure.
The specifics of Senate Bill (SB) 196 are troubling:
- It would forbid businesses from requiring an employee who takes sick leave to find his own replacement or retaliate against him in any way. If an employer violates the law, the state could charge it with a misdemeanor and fine it $5,000 for each violation.
- The bill would allow employers to “set a minimum increment of paid sick leave, not to exceed 2 hours, that an employee may use at any one time.”
- It would require employers to “provide to each employee on each payday a written accounting of the hours of accrued sick leave available for use.”
- The bill would set the minimum leave period at 2 hours, meaning employees could take up to 12, 2-hour leave periods per year. They couldn’t be required to take off a full day. Sick leave hours must be accrued accurately, kept up to date, and listed on each pay stub so employees (and possibly the labor commissioner) know how many hours they have available for use.
The bill states: “Accrued paid sick leave must carry over for each employee between his or her years of employment, except an employer may limit the accrual of paid sick leave for each employee to a maximum of 48 hours per year.”
In a slight bit of good sense, the bill would not require employers “to compensate an employee for any accrued unused sick leave upon separation from employment.” However, if an employer rehires an employee within a year, “any previously accrued unused sick leave hours must be reinstated.” Although the bill would require employees to provide “reasonable advance notice” of the need to use sick leave, it prefaces that with a cautionary “to the extent possible.”
We can all imagine how the bill, if passed, would give a habitually late employee a viable justification for his tardiness. When Newark, New Jersey, enacted a similar law in 2014, John Sarno, president of the Employers Association of New Jersey, said:
The thing that bothers me is whether an employer is going to be able to discharge someone that is chronically absent or late. My concern is that [the] ordinance might create an exception to the at-will rule, where an employer might find it difficult to discipline or fire an at-will employee.
On April 19, 2017, the Democratic-led senate passed the bill 12-9 along party lines, with one independent senator in favor. It is now in the assembly, which is also controlled by the Democratic Party.
Of course, the proposal would not apply to employees working under a collective bargaining agreement, so the bill, as written, would impose the same restrictions on small employers as large nonunionized businesses.
Large employers can better afford the additional staff required to handle the monotonous record-keeping requirements the legislature is attempting to pass into law this session. Nevada employers large and small should prepare to deal with the measure presently pending in the legislature.