Monthly Archives: June 2013

FAQ Friday – What are Idaho’s laws about employee breaks?

Q. What are Idaho’s laws on breaks (lunch, vacation and otherwise)?

lunchbreakIdaho currently does not have any laws that require an employer to provide:

      1. Vacation, holiday, severance or sick pay.
      2. A discharge notice or a reason for discharge.
      3. Rest periods, breaks, lunch breaks, holidays off or vacations.
      4. Premium pay rates for weekends or holidays worked.
      5. Pay raises or fringe benefits or
      6. A limit on the number of hours an employee can work per day or week for employees 16 years of age or older.

If an Idaho employer does offer these benefits, then any change in a current policy would require notifying employees.

Here’s what you need to know about federal rules on breaks:

Rest breaks

The Fair Labor Standards Act recognizes employers often provide short breaks of between five and 20 minutes to workers. These breaks are for resting, smoking, using the bathroom or eating a snack. Neither the FLSA nor any federal law requires employers to provide this break no matter how many hours are worked. However, if employers do provide this break, it counts toward hours worked. Employees, when given these breaks, must be paid for them.

Meal breaks

Federal employment law does not require employers to provide meal breaks under any circumstances, nor do they require employers to pay workers for meal periods. They are not considered to be hours worked. Federal employment laws define a meal break as time taken when the worker has no job-related responsibilities, usually for a period of 30 minutes or more. Employers can ask workers to stay at the job site during meal breaks, but if an employee is asked to sit at their desk or answer calls during the period, it does not qualify as a meal break.

Sleep breaks

Employees who work for more than 24 consecutive hours may need breaks to sleep, but federal law does not mandate employers to provide sleeping breaks in these circumstances. If the worker arranges such a break with his employer, the employer does not need to pay for the break, because according to the FLSA, sleeping breaks are not hours worked. To qualify as a sleep break, the rest period must be between five and eight hours.

Health breaks

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act is designed to prevent discrimination in the workplace against individuals with disabilities. Under the ADA, an employer must make reasonable accommodation for special needs. This includes breaks for individuals with diabetes to have snacks and check their blood levels. The ADA does not provide a list of other health breaks, instead preferring that the details to be worked out between employer and worker or, if necessary, in court.

Bathroom breaks

No federal law directly addresses bathroom breaks, however, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration determines that an “employer may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of the [toilet] facilities.” In other words, there are no strict rules regarding time limits or pay for bathroom breaks, but workers should have access to bathrooms and be able to use them.

Economic Activity in Idaho in June

Idaho department of labor county developments

Here is a roundup of economic news compiled by the Idaho Department of Labor in June:

Northern Idaho

  • spokane airportDespite passenger totals down 4.5 percent from the first quarter 2012, cargo totals at the Spokane International Airport were up 3 percent in the first quarter of this year. The decline in passengers is a direct result of airlines continuing to reduce capacity, but there are plans for additional service. Southwest Airlines launched a daily service to Chicago-Midway on June 2 and it will run through mid-September. On June 10, Delta began offering direct daily service to Los Angeles and will be offering more capacity to Minneapolis. Rather than a single daily flight, there will be three flights on bigger planes.
  • Hayden-based AllWest Testing & Engineering LLC has developed a welding school. The company hired an instructor in early 2012 to set up a fabrication welding curriculum and has been recognized as a proprietary school by the states of Washington and Idaho. The proprietary school designation means welders can earn qualifications for specific skills rather than broader three academic-quarter certification programs or two-year associate degrees offered through some vocation programs at schools like Spokane Community College. AllWest’s Post Falls shop has four welding booths and has so far instructed 33 students. It currently has about a month-long waiting list. The company plans to expand to 10 fully equipped welding booths as the backlog of students grows.
  •  Vivint Inc., a large, privately-held Provo, Utah-based home-automation system maker, plans to open a sales call center in Liberty Lake this summer and expects to employ 400 people within 18 months. The company plans to open the Liberty Lake operation on July 15. The company currently has about 2,500 year-round employees.

North Central Idaho

  • A new business opened on Pierce’s Main Street, partly in anticipation of the new jobs and residents that the January opening of the National Guard ChalleNGe school will bring. Leia and Eric Vanhook opened Clearwater Fitness in May.
  • ASE Manufacturing provides jobs opportunities in Orofino. The business opened as Architectural Signs & Engraving in a 700-square-foot building  in Orofino in 1994, shortly after American with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines for interior signage were published. The company currently employs 27 people making interior signs. It ships signs all over the United States.
  • The Nez Perce County Commission unanimously approved Howell Machine’s plan to convert a horse arena into an ammunition storage and distribution facility. The three-acre property in an agricultural transitional zone will be used by Howell’s growing ammunition manufacturing operation. The company has created more than 150 jobs in Lewiston since it began manufacturing ammunition there in early 2012. Along with the new ammunition-making operation, Howell and sister company AmmoLoad Worldwide employ people who make equipment for ammunition makers – altogether employing about 250 people.

Southwestern Idaho

  • Western Aircraft is beginning construction on two new buildings. A 14,000-square-foot warehouse and a 12,000-square-foot office and tools building are scheduled to be completed in November. This $2 million project is only the beginning of a five-year plan, which includes adding a new 40,000-square-foot hangar.
  •  CradlePoint, a Boise based technology company, plans to add 50 employees this year. The company makes networking routers and software. The positions will be in software developing, sales and customer support.
  •  Cafe Ole is adding a third restaurant in the area. The company plans to open in Meridian in mid-July and hire 40 to 50 people.
  • The Caldwell Transportation Co. won the bid to bus students in the Mountain Home School District. The $1 million annual contract takes effect July 1, and the company is planning to hire the drivers of the previous contractor, First Student.

South Central Idaho

  • The southern Bellevue site initially chosen by Mountain Rides as a transit hub but later rejected by the Planning and Zoning commission was purchased by Joe’s Backhoe Excavation. The Hailey company needs more room. Bellevue leaders believe this event reinforces their decision to keep the area on the tax rolls. Mountain Rides had suggested tax relief from the city as an in-kind contribution to public transportation.
  • The Idaho Fish and Game Department updated a 2003 report on the economic impact of fishing. The 2011 update found that in Blaine County, on average, anglers spent $233 daily during trips lasting 1.9 days. There were a total of 98,527 trips. The Big Wood River brought in the most money in the county at $10 million. The reported estimated that anglers spent $22 million in the county during 2011 and $548 million statewide. Blaine County ranked ninth in angler spending in the state. The totals did not include the cost of licenses and permits.
  • Mount Harrison Junior High in conjunction with Idaho Youth Ranch students has been awarded a $1.36 million grant for a mathematics and reading lab providing the Scholastic tutoring program. The grant will be administered by the Department of Education.

 Southeastern Idaho

  • The economic development publication Area Development ranked Pocatello’s local economy in the top 25 percent among 380 metropolitan areas in the nation. Editor Geraldine Gambale said that Pocatello and other communities in the top 25 percent “managed to thrive, emerging for the recession as economic leaders.” But despite the recognition, Pocatello still faces significant hurdles. Unemployment in the city is above the state average, and wages and per capita income are below state and national averages.
  •  Bear Lake County commissioners met with 6th District Administrative Judge Steven S. Dunn on a proposed drug court. Many county residents support the proposal. Bear Lake County Prosecutor Steven Wuthrich said the court would have a positive economic effect in the county. “If we lose eight to 10 jobs from people going to jail and losing their jobs from a felony DUI, it impacts the local economy. A lot of people can’t afford treatment so they don’t get it, and we have at least four or five who need long-term care and would do well on probation.”  The county commission and a special committee will continue to study the feasibility of a drug court. 

Eastern Idaho

  • Kiplinger’s magazine ranked Idaho Falls 10th among its “10 Cheapest U.S. Cites to Live In.” The city’s cost of living was reported to be 12 percent below average. Median household income was $45,900 compared to the national average of $52,762. Median home values in Idaho Falls were $146,900 compared to $186,200 nationwide.
  •  Following nine unsuccessful attempts to pass a school construction bond, the state Public School Repair Fund Committee began the process of certifying repair costs for the Salmon Pioneer and Middle schools. The committee’s findings will be forwarded to the state Department of Education. The next step for the committee is to appoint a project superintendent. Anticipated costs for repairing the roof and walls of the two schools is $3.6 million. If approved, the state will pay for the school improvements, which will then be reimbursed by Salmon residents.

• • •

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Seven Things To Remember About Criminal Background Checks

If you’re an employer who conducts criminal background checks on potential or current employees, you may want to double check your practices.keyboard typing hands

Two major U.S. employers are now the subjects of a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for implementing and utilizing a criminal background policy that resulted in employees being fired and others being screened out for employment. A third employer recently paid $3.1 million to settle charges of discrimination for using criminal background checks to screen out job applicants, some never convicted.

Background checks by employers are on the rise with the growth of online databases and low-cost records searches. According to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, about 73 percent of all U.S. employers conduct criminal background checks on all job candidates. Another 19 percent do so for selected job candidates.

On April 25, 2012, the EEOC issued updated guidance for employers on the use of arrest and conviction records. If your company conducts background checks, remember these seven tips:
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Hot Jobs and 20-Something Job Applications Show Little Correlation

The Idaho Department of Labor’s list of the hottest jobs in terms of highest
demand, best pay and largest number for the coming decade offers workers
some insight into where the best career opportunities lie and the kind of
education or training required.

The top 20 Hot Jobs in Idaho from 2010 through 2020 are:

  •  Registered nurse
  • Medical and health service manager
  • Physical therapist
  •  Dental hygienist
  • Pharmacist
  •  Software applications developer
  • Management analyst
  • Physician and surgeon in areas other than specific specialties
  • Network and computer systems administrator
  •  Market research analyst and marketing specialist
  • Radiologic technologist and technician
  • Family and general practitioner
  • Physician assistant
  •  Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurse
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Electrical engineer
  • Computer system analyst
  • Industrial machinery mechanic
  • Loan officer
  • Elementary school teacher other than in special education

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Tips For Finding Livable Wage Jobs in Rural Idaho

Are you one of the thousands of people living in scenic north central Idaho? 

sara espeland

Sara Espeland

Those of us lucky enough to call this area home understand the struggles of finding a livable wage job in rural Idaho. People who live here want to stay and finding a job that can support a household is not easy.

That said, it is possible to find meaningful work in rural areas of our state. And after matching job seekers with rural Idaho employers for more than six years, I have these tips to share:

Research your local employers. Happy employees reflect good employers. Talk with your friends, family, congregation and neighbors. Learn which employers are valued as “the best in your community.” Spend time researching jobs on the Idaho Department of Labor website, too. You can learn about local labor markets and which employers pay the wages you seek.
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FAQ Friday – My employer isn’t posting required labor law notices.

Q. “Are employers required by law to post labor law posters at EVERY site where they have employees?”

A. Yes. If your employees fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage provisions, information explaining the Act must be posted in all of your business locations where employees can easily access and read the notice.required poster image

A copy of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Minimum Wage Poster can be found on this U.S. Department of Labor web page, which is designed to help businesses determine which posters it is required to post. A set of Idaho’s required posters can be found here.  And remember these posters are free.

Employees, if you believe a required poster isn’t posted at your job, contact Idaho Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division. We would be glad to reach out to your employer, inform them of the law and ensure they are in compliance with all of  Idaho’s wage payment laws and the posting of required posters.
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Idaho’s Underemployment Declines For First Time Since 2007

idaho underemployment

Idaho’s slowly improving economy has not only reduced the official unemployment, but for the first time since the recession began in 2007 it has reduced the state’s rate of underemployment.

More than 20,000 workers who were underemployed found better work between 2011 and 2012 to drive the state’s underemployment rate down three percentage points to just under 17 percent. The decline of more than a full percentage point in the official unemployment rate of 7.1 percent in 2012 brought the combined rate down to 24 percent from a peak of over 28 percent in 2011.

Underemployment is not a hard and fast statistic. It is based on a number of assumptions and does not attempt to measure holiday or seasonal workers.

These underemployment statistics, compiled by Principal Research Analyst John Panter, come from two categories:

  • Employed workers who are working part-time or temporary jobs but want full-time work based on the ratio of part-time and temporary jobs listed with the 25 local Labor Department offices.
  • Workers who have associate degrees or higher and are currently employed but have filed with a local office to find another job.

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