New Labor Laws Hawaii Employers Need to Know for 2020

Downtown Honolulu and New Hawaii Labor Laws

Employment and labor laws evolve every year and with that comes added compliance for Hawaii employers. With 2020 right around the corner, here is a quick breakdown of the federal and Hawaii labor laws employers should prepare for in the new year.

New Hawaii labor laws

There are a handful of new Hawaii labor laws that will require HR compliance from Hawaii employers.

Stepped up enforcement of Hawaii Wage and Hour Law

In June 2019, the Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations (DLIR) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that they will be collaborating to promote compliance with wage and hour laws.  This could result in stepped up enforcement of wage payment violations, as well as increasing penalties, levying double back wages with interest, plus $500 minimum administrative penalties, on employers who fail to comply.

Violations of wage payment include:

  • Failing to pay within seven days of the end of the pay period.
  • Failing to provide final pay timely to a separated employee.
  • Neglecting to provide a pay stub each payday.
  • Shorting hours on a pay check or not paying at the appropriate rate (including overtime).
  • Making unlawful deductions from an employee’s paycheck for cash shortages, damages, or fines.

Employee time off to vote is repealed

Starting with the next election, Hawaii employers will no longer be required to provide employees two hours of time off to vote. The change comes as Hawaii starts conducting all statewide elections by mail, beginning with the 2020 primary election. If you have a voting provision in your employee handbook, consider revising it (or removing it altogether) and inform your employees of any changes.

Effective July 1, 2019, HRS Section 11-95 was repealed.

Reproductive health decisions now a protected class

Reproductive health decisions have been added as a protected class under Hawaii’s anti-discrimination laws. The law defines reproductive health decisions as the “use or attempted use of any legal drug, device, or medical service intended to prevent or terminate a pregnancy, or the use or attempted use of any assisted reproductive technology.”

Effective July 2, 2019, HRS Section 378-1 and HRS Section 378-2 is amended.

New federal labor laws

There are three notable federal labor laws that will be going into effect in 2020 that Hawaii employers should be aware of.

Federal overtime salary threshold raised under Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Effective January 1, 2020, the standard salary level for the executive, administrative, and professional exemptions will increase from $23,660 to $35,568 per year. In addition, employers will be able to use an employee’s nondiscretionary compensation, bonuses, and incentive payments (including commissions), to satisfy up to 10 percent of the employee’s new standard salary level.

Read More: How Hawaii employers can comply with the new federal overtime rule

EEOC drops pay data reporting requirement for EEO-1 survey

On September 12, 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it will no longer require employers with at least 100 employees to collect employee pay data (EEO-1 Component 2 data) going forward (Source). The administrative burden placed on employers to collect pay data outweighed the usefulness of that data, according to the EEOC.

However, eligible employers must still submit 2017 and 2018 EEO-1 pay data. Because the EEOC has not reached its target response rate, the courts have instructed the agency to continue collecting data until January 31, 2020. If your company is required to complete an EEO-1 Component 2 report and haven’t done so yet, you should complete it immediately.

401(k) contribution limits rise in 2020

Effective January 1, 2020, employees can contribute $500 more in 401(k) contributions while the combined employer and employee contribution limit will increase by $1,000 to $57,000. Employees over age 50 can also contribute an additional $500, bringing the catch-up contribution limit to $6,500. Though most employees comply with annual limits, it’s prudent for employers to ensure that their payroll systems don’t accept contributions above the annual limit and to inform employees who may have multiple jobs that the annual limit applies to total contributions to all 401(k) plans. (IRS, Notice 2019-59)

Related: New retirement contribution limits are a chance to promote benefits

New Hawaii laws that could affect local employers

Though not directly related to employment, there are a few Hawaii laws going into effect in 2020 that may have spillover effects for HR in the (near) future.

Gender X added as an option on Hawaii driver’s licenses

Effective July 1, 2020, Hawaii drivers will be able to select “X” as a gender designation on their license, if they prefer not to identify with male or female. Furthermore, individuals are not required to show proof of documentation, like a birth certificate, for their chosen gender designation.

Though this bill relates specifically to Hawaii driver’s license, it could pose new challenges for employers when it comes to gender reporting on employment related forms, like job applications, tax forms, and even benefits enrollment. Federal law does not currently require employers to recognize or track gender designations other than male or female, but the move is a testament to the growing local and national trend for a more inclusive workplace.

Effective July 1, 2020, HRS Section 286-109 is amended.

Hawaii decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana

Under HB1383, Hawaii has become the 26th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Starting January 11, 2020, those caught with up to three grams of marijuana will no longer face jail time, but will instead be charged a $130 fine.  It is the smallest amount of marijuana for any state that has decriminalized or legalized simple possession so far.

The new law does not provide employment protections for recreational marijuana users nor does it modify Hawaii’s existing medical cannabis law. However, it signals the increasing social acceptance of marijuana. Decriminalization also continues to bring attention to uncertainty around marijuana policy in the workplace, including issues related to recruitment, drug testing, and on-the-job drug use.

Related: Hawaii Medical Marijuana Law and the Workplace

Keeping up with ever changing state and federal labor laws is a full-time job. Our sister company, simplicityHR by ALTRES, can handle HR compliance for you, so you can get back to doing what you do best. Contact them today for more information!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.