Tag Archives: idaho law

Employers: Changes in Wages, Working Conditions for Range Livestock Herders

New rules surrounding job conditions for H-2A workers who herd sheep, goats and other livestock mean employers must pay a wage that equals or exceeds the highest of a monthly pay rate, a collective bargaining agreement wage, or an applicable minimum wage set by court or law.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the old requirements — adopted in 2010 — do not readily apply to unique occupations that place workers in remote locations where they are on call 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The scarcity of U.S. workers employed in the field have also made setting an appropriate minimum wage difficult, resulting in what the federal agency refers to as “wage stagnation for nearly 20 years.”

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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.

FAQ Friday – New hires: Who counts as an employee?

Idaho’s hire reporting law requires all Idaho employers to report their new employees to the Idaho Department of Labor within 20 days of the date of hire. Make reporting part of your hiring routine – reporting new hires reduces fraud and lowers unemployment insurance tax rates.

Who counts as an employee?

An employee is an individual who qualifies for Federal Income Tax withholding from wages.

So do I have to report independent contractors to the Department of Labor?

If the work performed is based on a contract rather than an employer/employee relationship, you do not have to submit a New Hire report. In such cases, the contractor is responsible for reporting his or her new employees.

What is considered the “date of hire?”

The date of hire is defined as the first day the employee works for wages. Do not report a new hire if the employee has not yet started working for you.

FAQ Friday – Why do I have to wait a week to receive unemployment insurance benefits?

Everyone who files for unemployment insurance in Idaho is required to serve one waiting week and will not receive benefits for that week.

A waiting week reflects an unpaid week when you successfully file your weekly report and meet all the eligibility requirements for receiving unemployment insurance.

People who file for unemployment insurance are required to serve only one waiting week per benefit year, which is a calendar year from the date you file your claim. Once you serve your waiting week – even if you are laid off several times a year – you won’t serve a waiting week each time.

Sometimes people hear the ‘waiting week’ and think that means they are supposed to wait a week until filing their initial claim or a weekly report. Help us abolish this myth and DO NOT WAIT to file. If you don’t file, your waiting week is not counted as served and will only further delay the date you receive a benefit payment.

It is possible to work a partial week and still have that count toward your waiting week, however if you earn more than 1½ times your weekly benefit amount, that week does not qualify as a waiting week.  If this happens, the next week reported on your claim that meets all eligibility requirements will be counted as your waiting week.

Why is there such a thing as a waiting week? One reason was to reduce costs of the program or restore stability to a depleted UI trust fund.  Another reason is to provide administrative convenience.  Some states, such as Wisconsin and Kentucky have adopted a waiting week just within the last few years. Most states do not have waiting periods over one week.

FAQ Friday – Can I ask for my personnel records?

Q: I want to ask for a copy of my personnel record from my last Idaho employer.  What time frame does the employer have to respond to this request?  Can the employer charge a fee for photocopying?  If so, what is the standard rate?

A: According to Idaho law, employers must maintain employment records for a minimum of three (3) years from the last date of the employee’s service. Personnel documents are considered to be the property of the employer, consequently, any obligation to share these documents, absent a subpoena, is contractual between the company and the employee or the company and its union.

The best thing to do is to first simply ask for the records from the employer. Typically, the individual would be allowed to view the file on the company’s premises and to make copies of documents, which often can be at the individual’s expense. However, even if your former employer agrees to do so, there is no law that requires an them to provide or send the complete file.

If that fails, request the documents through an attorney or Legal Aid.

As a point of interest, Idaho law does require employers to provide, upon request by the employee, information in writing on rate of pay and day of payment. Employers are also required to – at the employee’s request – provide notice to its employees of any reduction in wages prior to the work being performed.