In order to best serve our clients, the Finney Law Firm’s Employment Law team closely tracks proposed Ohio, Kentucky, and federal employment legislation. The Ohio General Assembly and Kentucky Legislature are currently debating small, yet significant, changes to their employment laws.
In Ohio, Senate Bill 47 would amend Ohio’s wage and hour statute, O.R.C. 4111.01, et seq., to incorporate the federal “Portal to Portal Act” into Ohio law. Should the bill pass, the proposed O.R.C. 4111.031 Ohio would explicitly eliminate employees from being compensated for time travelling to and from the place of performance, activities that are preliminary to or postliminary to the principal activities, and activities requiring insignificant or de minimis time. The rule would not apply where the activities are preformed either during the regular work day or during prescribed hours, or at the direction of the employer.
As S.B. 47 merely harmonizes Ohio law with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, most Ohio employers should be unaffected by the changes. However, all employers should have a knowledgeable employment attorney review their policies and procedures for the handling of out of office work, especially in regards to emails. While a simple review of an email outside of work hours is likely de minimis time, an email requiring a substantive response or directing to an immediate task would likely not be exempt time under the proposed O.R.C 4111.031.
Kentucky is currently one of 26 states with laws that prohibit discriminating against smokers who otherwise comply with workplace rules. Senate Bill 258 would eliminate protections for smokers from K.R.S. 344.040, allowing employers to, among other things, require an employee or job applicant to abstain from smoking or using tobacco during or outside of the course of employment. Should the bill pass, Kentucky employers would be permitted to modify their handbook and hiring policies to exclude smokers and create a generally healthier work environment.