New Employee Protections in 2014
Despite the threat to limit the time spent on unemployment—a negotiation ongoing on
Capitol Hill—several new employment laws have been enacted or proposed that will help employees, particularly in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Minimum Wage Goes UP
As of January 1, 2014, the RI minimum wage is now level with the $8.00 MA minimum.
Beacon Hill, however, is considering hikes to the Bay State rates which would increase the minimum wage to $10.00 by January 2015 and $11.00 by January 2016. There is broad support for this proposal: Governor Deval Patrick has made it a priority for his 2014 agenda.
Federal legislators are also considering nationwide regulations to hike the minimum wage over $9.00 per hour. On December 19, 2013, the Economic Policy Institute released a state by state analysis of the proposal to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by July 2016. Roughly 17% of the Bay State’s almost 3 million workers would be affected, EPI predicts. Almost 20% of the Ocean State’s half million workers would likewise be affected.
The EPI study counts those workers who earn less than the proposed minimum wage (directly affected) and those benefiting from the “ripple effect” of the increase, receiving a raise as employers adjust their overall pay ladders” (indirectly affected.)
The study does not calculate the number and types of businesses who would be required to pay these increases.
Credit Checks Go DOWN?
MA Senator Elizabeth Warren has introduced a proposal to bar “investigative checks” in the hiring process. The Equal Employment for All Act would “prohibit employers from requiring potential employees to disclose their credit history as part of the job application process.” When introduced on December 17, 2013, supporters included RI Sheldon Whitehouse and MA Edward J Markey.