It's critical to keep your business up to date with changing state and federal laws every year. Many laws that get passed in a legislative cycle go into effect on January 1st of the following year – and 2022 brings new laws for both Philadelphia and Pennsylvania businesses.
Is your business prepared for the new year? Have you taken steps towards compliance?
The sooner you get your business operations compliant with new laws, the better.
In fact, you should start the compliance process as soon as you find out about any new legal changes that apply to you. This gives you time to iron out any kinks that come up so that you’re fully in compliance by the time the law goes into effect. By being proactive, you can keep your business operating smoothly without interruptions, fines, or unexpected liabilities.
Your business lawyer can help you stay on top of any relevant developments that affect your operations, especially if you’ve got any employees on your payroll.
Changes to Philadelphia Pre-Employment Marijuana TestingEver since Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana, the cannabis market and the cannabis legal landscape have been in a state of near-constant change.
Philadelphia Bill No. 200625 affects businesses that carry out marijuana testing. Starting January 1, 2022, businesses can no longer require that prospective employees undergo pre-hiring marijuana testing as a condition of getting a job.
This new law does not apply to employees who must get drug tested because of government regulations, contracts, or grants, as well as law enforcement agents, employees who supervise or care for children, caretakers of medical patients or the elderly, or workers who have the ability to significantly impact the health or safety of other employees or the public.
In addition, the new law does not affect how businesses test current employees. You can continue to test your active employees for cannabis, you just cannot ask new employees to take a marijuana drug test during the interview process before they’re hired.
What’s the reasoning behind this law? Cannabis can be detected in a person’s body for weeks or even months after last using the drug. So if you test an employee before hiring them, there’s no telling how recently they were exposed. This new law protects workers from being unfairly denied opportunities because of actions completely unrelated to their employment.
It’s important to keep ever-changing medical marijuana laws in mind when putting together a drug testing policy for your business. In many states, zero-tolerance drug policies are getting challenged in court by emerging medical marijuana rights, especially if employees show no signs of drug use or impairment during work hours. The last thing you want is to get pulled into an expensive wrongful termination lawsuit because you fired a worker for failing a marijuana test when they’re a medical marijuana user in their personal time outside of work.
Philadelphia’s Fair Workweek LawPhiladelphia's new Fair Workweek law went into effect in April 2020 and the Philadelphia Office of Worker Protections began enforcing predictability pay in June 2021. Employers who aren’t aware of the law could be on the hook for hundreds of dollars owed to their employees.
Philadelphia’s new Fair Workweek law applies to any retail, food service, or hospitality business with more than 30 locations worldwide that employs more than 250 workers anywhere in the world, including all full-time, part-time, and temporary workers.
Under this law, food service, retail, and hospitality workers in Philadelphia must get written “good faith estimate” schedules of how many hours they’ll work in a 90-day period. Employers must give employees their schedules 14 days in advance. If you make any changes to a worker’s hours or shifts more than 24 hours after you’ve given them their schedule, you must pay that worker “predictability pay” for each change.
For example, a worker is entitled to predictability pay if their manager asks them to stay longer on their shift, changes the start time of a shift, or cancels their shift. Workers are allowed to request changes to their own shifts without this penalty. Generally, predictability pay comes out to one hour of pay at your usual rate.
In addition, these businesses must offer any additional hours that become available to current workers before they hire new employees to take on the extra shifts.
Pennsylvania Wage Exemptions for Salaried WorkersEffective September 7, 2021, the Pennsylvania General Assembly made some changes to state rules around executive, administrative, and professional worker minimum wage.
Previously, the law was written in a way that the Pennsylvania state minimum wage for executive, administrative, and professional workers would exceed the federal minimum wage requirements starting in October 2021. Lawmakers removed Pennsylvania’s amendments so that moving forward the minimum wage requirements would match that of federal law.
What does that mean for Pennsylvania businesses that employ executive, administrative, and professional workers? You must continue paying the federal minimum wage for these employees. As of October 2021, that is $684 per week. This rate changes every year.
Paid Sick Leave in Allegheny County, PennsylvaniaIf you run a business in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County with 26 or more employees, you must give your employees paid sick leave starting September 14, 2021.
Under this ordinance, you must give your employees one hour of paid sick time for every 35 hours that they work within the geographic boundaries of Allegheny County. Your workers must be able to accumulate up to 40 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year. This is simply a baseline requirement – your company is free to offer a more generous paid sick leave plan.
Each violation of this County Ordinance could be fined up to $100.
To complicate matters, Pittsburgh also enacted the Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act in March 2020. The Pittsburgh Paid Sick Days Act has similar requirements to the County Ordinance except the city law applies to companies of all sizes. Businesses with less than 15 employees must offer a year of unpaid sick time accrual before switching to paid sick time. Businesses with 15 or more employees must offer the same amount of sick time as the County Ordinance.
Since these laws are so new, they remain relatively untested in the Pennsylvania court system. A knowledgeable business lawyer can help you comply with changes in the law, avoid penalties and fines, and keep your company running smoothly. Call the Philadelphia offices of Holmes Business Law now at 215-482-0285 to get started on your compliance plan.
Sarah E. Holmes is a Philadelphia business attorney and strategist that helps start ups and established businesses looking to expand, protect their assets and increase their profits in an approachable, down-to-earth way. When you're looking for a business lawyer in Philadelphia, the Main Line or New Jersey, we can help.