Yesterday, members of the Ohio Senate Ways & Means Committee heard sponsor testimony from Sen. Andrew Brenner and Sen. Bob Peterson on an Ohio Chamber priority bill. The legislation – Senate Bill 47 (SB 47) – will benefit Ohio employers who in response to the coronavirus have shifted hourly workers to work from home settings by limiting their risk of costly wage and hour litigation.
The bill codifies into Ohio law a legal doctrine laid out by the US Supreme Court that will prevent small amounts of time spent working on such tasks as checking emails or listening to voicemails from forming the basis of a lawsuit arising under Ohio’s overtime statute when an hourly employee engages in the activity without the specific direction of their employer and outside their scheduled working hours.
For Ohio employers, the enactment of SB 47 will lower the risk of surprise litigation from an employee alleging they failed to properly compensate them when in fact the employer had no knowledge the work was performed. In turn, the bill promotes a common-sense system of civil liability that aids in the development of a strong business climate throughout the Buckeye State.
The Ohio Chamber will now push for SB 47 to receive additional hearings in the Senate committee, so we can highlight our belief that SB 47 modernizes Ohio law to reflect the realities of Ohio’s 21st Century workforce – especially during the coronavirus pandemic – where employers are counting on their hourly employees to properly record the hours they work since many of these employees are now able to complete their job duties in unsupervised settings.