Whether you’re a new business owner seeking a license or you’ve been in business for years, there are some new legislative changes you should know about from the 2019 Nevada Legislative Session. The following article, from local business law attorney Aviva Gordon, shares important information about new rules and regulations such as: stricter penalties for sexual discrimination, increases in employee compensation, and limitations of drug testing for marijuana use. Get familiar with all of the new legislation that has taken effect and make sure your business operations and practices are in compliance.
Nevada’s New Business Regulations for Employees
Starting January 1, 2020, your business will have new rules to follow for its employees.
I was recently asked by the Henderson Chamber of Commerce to write a summary of the upcoming legislative changes businesses need to prepare for as we approach end of year. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive synopsis of what the HCC sent to its members. As always, if you need assistance or have any questions, please contact my office.
As the new decade approaches, the State of Nevada has created some additional hurdles for your business to leap. Of particular concern in these new business regulations are new laws affecting a business’ relationship with its employees. Starting January 1, 2020, your business will have new rules to follow for its employees. The new laws will affect how you hire employees; when your employees work; how you oversee your employees; and how much you pay your employees. As always, the Henderson Chamber of Commerce is here as a tool in your toolbox to help you with your business.
Changes to Hiring: In the event that your business engages in drug testing as a precondition to employment, under Nevada law, you may no longer disqualify an employee because of a positive test for cannabis. An important note is that the exception to this new law is broad. Essentially, pre-employment testing can still disqualify if the employer determines that a positive drug test of the prospective employee could adversely affect the safety of others. To properly protect this exception, you should make sure that your employee handbook sets forth the reason for this safety exception. Additionally, you should maintain specific job descriptions and the reasons that the safety exception applies to a particular position.
Your business may still engage in drug testing once an employee is hired. Thus, if it is your practice to test upon an accident or illness, or if you have reasonable suspicion of impairment, you can test an employee and take action against that employee.
Under any circumstance, all businesses should be certain to have a conversation with their workers’ compensation insurance carrier on decisions concerning drug testing of employees.
Mandatory Paid Time Off: For businesses who have at least 50 employees, you will have to provide paid time off for all employees, unless your business already meets or exceeds the new standards set forth. It does not matter if employees are full time or part-time. It also does not matter if the employees are hourly or salary. Each employee is entitled to up 0.01923 hours of paid leave for each hour worked. Just like with hiring changes, you should make sure that your employee handbook states the current law and that you follow it. Also, you are required to maintain records over the amount of overtime accrued and when it is used.
Most payroll services already have programs in place to comply with the document retention requirements. Be certain to contact your payroll servicer before January 1, 2020 to ensure that you have the plan in place effective January 1. There is no grace period for this new law.
Zero Tolerance for Sexual Discrimination: Even though sexual discrimination is illegal throughout the U.S. and has been for a significant amount of time, Nevada has now created additional penalties for businesses within the state who engage in employment discrimination based upon sex. The Nevada Equal Rights Commission will be the body to determine (rather than a judge or jury) if sexual discrimination has occurred. Furthermore, it will determine the amount of damages to which an employee is entitled. Additionally, it can assess fines beyond damages of the employee.
While your business should never tolerate discriminatory activity, you should take greater actions to prevent enforcement of this new law. Make sure your handbook details that you have zero tolerance for discrimination. Make sure you have proper policies and procedures in place to provide training and, if necessary, proper investigation and discipline in the event of discrimination claims.
Raises for Everyone: As of July 1, 2020, the minimum wage will increase. It will raise, incrementally, until it reaches $12.00 per hour (if your business does not provide health insurance). But as it relates to wages, the federal government is instituting a change starting January 1, 2020. The minimum salary for exempt (non-hourly) wage earners is increasing. Currently, the minimum salary that you can pay an employee and not be required to pay overtime is $455 per week or $23,660 per year. As of January 1, 2020, that amount will increase by 50% to $684 per week or $35,568 per year. These standards apply regardless of the number of employees you have.
Elimination of Commerce Tax Reporting for Some: Finally, as of January 1, 2020, Nevada business’ with gross revenue for the taxable year at $4 million or less will no longer be required to file a return to the Nevada Department of Taxation.
While many of these mandatory changes can be daunting, know that the Henderson Chamber of Commerce is here to advocate for you; educate you; and provide a variety of resources for you to maximize your business.
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During the 80th Nevada Legislative Session, 1,110 bills were filed. Of those bills, and with the guidance of its policy platform directed by its board of directors, the Henderson Chamber of Commerce’s legislative committee went to work in December 2018 upon bill draft request filings and read hundreds of bills, ultimately focusing its efforts on actively engaging in approximately 80 business-centric pieces of proposed legislation as the session came to end Monday, June 3 at midnight. The Chamber thanks all of our volunteers, stakeholder groups and lobbying firm, Carrara Nevada, for their support in representing the critical needs of business at the state level.
For inquiries regarding the Henderson Chamber of Commerce’s work in advocating on behalf of its members’ interest, please contact Amber Stidham, Director of Government Affairs, at 702-565-8951.