Employment Law Updates

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry has proposed a new set of workplace safety rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Under direction of Governor Northam, and because the federal OSHA agency has not implemented any such regulations, the Virginia Department has drafted regulations which the state Safety and Health Codes Board has adopted on an emergency basis. The emergency temporary standard must be given final approval by the Board after receiving public comment.

In previous blogs we have discussed in detail some of the many new employment laws enacted in the Virginia General Assembly’s 2020 session. Here is a reminder of some of those laws that will go into effect July 1.

In our last blog we discussed the process for reporting to the VEC an employee’s refusal of an offer to return to work. We have been receiving inquiries from some companies that have received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan about the effect rehire refusals will have on the loan forgiveness. As a condition of loan forgiveness, an employer must call back to work those employees who were laid off.

Many employers have laid off employees because of the coronavirus pandemic, but are now calling them back to work. Some companies have received a Paycheck Protection Program loan which, as a condition of loan forgiveness, requires the employer to call back to work those employees who were laid off. We have been receiving reports from employers that some employees are refusing to return to work, primarily for two reasons: (1) the employee is receiving more in compensation from unemployment benefits than the employee had been receiving from the company in pay; and (2) the employee has anxiety about returning to work because of the pandemic.

In another of the many new laws concerning employment, the 2020 Virginia General Assembly passed and the Governor approved HB 395 which will increase Virginia’s minimum wage from its current $7.25 per hour to $15.00 per hour by 2026. The increase is to occur gradually, with the hourly rate increasing to $9.50 on May 1, 2021, $11.00 on January 1, 2022, $12.00 on January 1, 2023, $13.50 on January 1 2025 and $15.00 on January 1, 2026.

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