The Utah legislative session for 2016 began last week. The 2015 session saw an unprecedented number of bills proposed, and experts expect that the 2016 legislature will introduce even more bills this session. The Employers Council will be closely monitoring employment-related topics throughout the session. Several key bills to watch are:
- B. 59—Antidiscrimination Act Revisions: This bill proposes a requirement for employers with 15 or more employees within the state for each working day in each of 20 calendar weeks or more in the current or preceding year, to provide a reasonable accommodation(s) for an employee with known limitations relating to pregnancy, child-birth, breastfeeding, or related conditions, unless it creates an undue hardship. The bill also amends the definition of “undue hardship.” The bill does allow an employer to require an employee to provide certification from the employee’s health care provider regarding the feasibility of a reasonable accommodation; however, the bill prohibits employers from seeking a certification if the accommodation would be for more frequent restroom breaks or limitations on lifting over 20 lbs.
- B. 88—Non-Competition Agreement Amendments: The enforcement of non-competition agreements in Utah has traditionally been governed by Utah case law. However, this proposed bill, if passed, will enact the Non-Competition Agreement Act and limit an employer’s ability to draft and enforce non-competition agreements. The bill would require employers to provide an employee with “new” consideration such as an increase in wages or a promotion, to enter into an enforceable non-compete (no longer would continued employment be sufficient). This bill would also require employers to bring an action to enforce the non-compete before the non-competition time period expires. And, if the employer does bring an action to enforce the non-compete and the employee prevails in such action, the court shall order the employer to pay the court costs, the employee’s attorney’s fees, and treble damages.
- B. 188—Paid Family Leave: This proposed bill would allow eligible state employees to take 240 hours of parental leave for the birth or adoption of the eligible employee’s child. Such leave would run concurrently with FMLA. An employee’s use of such leave would also entitle him/her to certain reinstatement rights. The bill would prohibit an employer from interfering with an employee’s exercise of paid family leave, or retaliating against the employee by taking adverse action against the employee.
- B. 195—Living Wage Amendments: This bill proposes to increase the state minimum wage to $12.00 per hour, and provides an index for inflation every other year.