Recent Ohio Legislation: The SmokeFree Workplace Act and Minimum Wage Amendment
On November 7, 2006, Ohio voters passed The Fair Minimum Wage Amendment and The SmokeFree Workplace Act, both of which significantly affect Ohio employers. The SmokeFree Workplace Act will be effective as of December 7, 2006. The Fair Minimum Wage Amendment has two effective dates. The minimum wage increase is effective as of January 1, 2007. However, the Amendment’s recordkeeping and disclosure requirements take effect December 7, 2006.
SmokeFree Workplace Act
Under this Act, all public places and places of employment are now required to be smoke-free. As they affect employers, the most significant requirements of the Act include:
- prohibiting smoking within enclosed spaces or in areas surrounding entrances to the workplace, during and after work hours, regardless of the presence of any employees;
- ensuring that secondhand smoke does not filter into any enclosed space by means of a window, door, or ventilation system;
- removing all ashtrays and similar receptacles from the workplace and other designated non-smoking areas;
- posting of “No Smoking” signs that are readable to a person of normal vision and include the telephone number of the Ohio Department of Health, at every entrance; and
- prohibiting retaliation against employees who report violations to the Department of Health.
Exempt from coverage under the Act are private residences, family-owned businesses closed to the public, private clubs without employees, and outdoor patios. However, these exempted areas may be designated non-smoking at the owner or employer’s option.
Minimum Wage Amendment
This Amendment raises the minimum wage an Ohio employer must pay its employees from the federal minimum wage of $5.15 per hour, to $6.85 per hour. Employees who earn tips as part of their wages may be paid a lesser amount, but not less than half of the newly established wage.
Exempt from the Amendment’s coverage are employees under the age of 16 and employees of businesses with under $250,000 in gross annual receipts, who may be paid no less than the national minimum wage. The definitions applied by the Amendment are the same as those set forth in the Fair Labor Standards Act, except that the term “employer” includes the State and its political subdivisions, and the term “employee” excludes individuals employed on the employer’s property or the individual’s residence on a casual basis.
The Amendment’s record-keeping requirements are of great significance to all Ohio employers, even those that do not employ minimum-wage workers. Employers are required to:
- provide the employer's name, address, telephone number, and other contact information to employees at the time of hire, and update that information when changes occur;
- record each employee’s name, address, occupation, pay rate, hours worked for each day, and the amount the employee was paid, and maintain such records during the course of an employee’s employment and for three years after termination;
- provide this information to the employee, or an individual acting on the employee’s behalf, upon request and free of charge; and
- provide this information to the State if requested during the course of an investigation.
For further information, please contact Cynthia Crain at (513) 651-6425 or firstname.lastname@example.org or any other member of our Labor and Employment Department.