Before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, the Ohio Chamber shared their support for legislation that aims to modernize Ohio’s overtime statute to help employers who have hourly employees working from home. The bill – Senate Bill 47 – will aid employers by codifying important aspects of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act into Ohio law.
Under the bill, a common law doctrine laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court known as the de minimis rule will become a part of Ohio’s overtime statute. The de minimis rule prevents employers from facing liability for failure to pay overtime when an employee spends a small amount of time engaged in work activities outside of normal working hours, without direction from their employer, and without notifying the employer that work was performed.
Including this rule in Ohio’s overtime statute reflects the realities of Ohio’s changing workforce where more hourly employees are working from home than ever before thanks to the coronavirus. While these actions may have helped stopped the spread of the virus, it does create the risk of potential litigation since it is more challenging for employers to properly track when an employee is working in unsupervised settings. Similarly, as technology has improved, all employees – including hourly workers – have almost unlimited access to work materials wherever they go, which also makes it more difficult for employers to assure they are paying the proper wage.
Senate Bill 47 addresses these concerns and protects employers from surprise litigation by clarifying an employer’s obligation to pay overtime under Ohio law. It also encourages employees to tell their employer about the work they perform to assure they can be paid for that time without having to file a lawsuit. The bill remains in Senate Ways and Means Committee, and the Ohio Chamber will be advocating for a vote on the bill at the next committee hearing so it can continue its path through the legislative process.