A few more bills affecting employers have been signed by Governor Kitzhaber as the Oregon legislative session begins to wind down.<!--?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?-->
HB 2034 gives the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) greater involvement in regulating apprenticeship programs. It also limits the length of the apprentice’s probationary period, so that it is up to one year or 25 percent of the length of the program. Effective May 27, 2011.
HB 2036 makes some technical changes, championed by BOLI. Now all employers, regardless of size, are prohibited from retaliating on the basis of a disability complaint (previously there was a threshold of six employees). Also, if an employer denies leave or takes other negative employment actions against a crime victim who asks for time off to attend a criminal proceeding, the individual must file a complaint with BOLI rather than going straight to court. A similar change was made in situations where an individual believes an employer discriminated on the basis of genetic information. Effective June 1, 2011.
HB 2039 gives BOLI the power to impose a civil penalty against employers that issue checks that bounce for non-sufficient funds. Although civil penalties are already in place, employees currently must go to court to collect the penalties. Under the new law, employees holding bounced paychecks will have the option of contacting BOLI instead. The penalties are capped at a maximum of $500 per paycheck. Effective January 1, 2012.
SB 178 applies to state-funded public works projects that require payment of prevailing wages. BOLI will no longer be required to develop a master comparison of the federal prevailing wages under the Davis-Bacon Act and state prevailing wages. Instead, each covered state contract should specify the amount of the federal and state prevailing wages, and require the employer to pay the higher amount. Effective for contracts and solicitations on or after June 7, 2011.