Arkansas: 2019 Legislative Employment Updates

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The Arkansas state legislature’s 2019 session ended on April 10, 2019 with several changes to employment-related laws. Key points are summarized below. All bills go into effect on July 23, 2019 unless otherwise stated.

HB 1850 | Independent Contractors: The state adopted the IRS’s former 20-factor test for determining independent contractor status. This test will be used to determine whether a person is an employee for purposes of wages, taxation, and workers’ compensation.

HB 1751 | Minimum Wage Update: There were several changes to the Minimum Wage Act.

  • An employer’s credit against minimum wages owed is the fair and reasonable cost for board, lodging, apparel, and other items customarily and regularly provided to benefit employees, as determined by federal law on January 1, 2019.
  • The statute of limitations to bring a claim under the Minimum Wage Act is reduced to two years from the Arkansas Supreme Court’s 2011 ruling of three years.
  • Liquidated damages are available if a violation of the wage and hour provisions of them Minimum Wage Act is willful.
  • Employers may pay employees via a preloaded debit card. Employees are entitled to one free withdrawal for each deposit of wages.
  • Terminated employees must be paid all regular wages by the next regular payday. Failure to pay final wages within seven days of the next regular payday will result in double wages owed to the employee.

SB 298 | Unemployment Insurance: Beginning January 1, 2020, the taxable wage base under the unemployment insurance law will be based on the federal unemployment rate and state unemployment fund amounts.

SB 299 | Unemployment Benefits Eligibility: When determining eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits, light-duty work is considered suitable work for a worker who is on an approved medical leave from his or her last employer due to the unavailability of light-duty work, unless the majority of the number of weeks of work within the period used to determine monetary eligibility were weeks spent performing work that the worker is currently unable to perform due to his or her medical restrictions. This bill goes into effect October 1, 2019.

HB 1177 | Microchip Implants: Employers are prohibited from implanting microchips in their employees as a condition of employment, and from asking for consent on an employment application or during a prehire interview. Microchipping an employee requires written consent, and the chip must be removed within 30 days of an employee’s request and as well as within 30 days of termination. There are additional accommodation, cost, and notice requirements.

HB 1943 | Data Breach Update: Data breaches of “personal information” will now include biometric data, such as fingerprints, face print, voiceprint analysis, DNA, etc. There are also new notice requirements for data breaches of 1000 or more individuals. Document retention of data breaches is required for at least five years.

SB 534 | Texting While Driving: The ban on cell phone use while driving has been updated on defining the terms “texting” and “operating a motor vehicle.” It eliminates exemptions for texting between a transit or for-hire dispatcher and for navigating with a GPS system.

Action Items

  1. Review the newly revised FAQs.
  2. Schedule harassment training for covered employees in your workforce no later than October 9, 2019.
  3. Subscribers can call our HR On-Call Hotline at (888) 378-2456 for further assistance.

Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.

© 2019 ManagEase

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