Compared with many states, Iowa’s laws governing the employment relationship are generally pretty employer friendly. But, if some members of the Iowa House of Representatives get their way this legislative session, that will change in a hurry. House members have introduced no fewer than twenty-one bills (21!) that add new or expand existing obligations and potential liability on employers.
The number of proposed bills dealing with employment issues is unprecedented, and it is not easy to discern the sponsors’ motivation for offering the bills in this session. Given that Republicans control the House, Senate, and Governor, it is hard to imagine any of these bills will be enacted into law this year. Perhaps in this election year the bills’ proponents are signaling the agenda they would promote if they are able to flip one or both of the chambers in November?
Below is a summary of each of 19 of proposed bills (two are duplicative), along with a link to the text of the actual bill (a bill introduced in the house is called a “House File” or “HF”). Employers, if you are concerned about how these proposals will impact your business, you should contact your legislators this year, regardless of their party:
HF 109: A proposal to amend the Iowa Civil Right Act to require employers to provide reasonable accommodations relating to pregnancy and childbirth. What is different about this proposal compared to existing law is that “reasonable accommodation” is specifically defined to mean “actions which would permit an employee with a medical condition relating to the employee’s pregnancy or childbirth to perform in a reasonable manner the activities involved in the employee’s specific occupation and include but are not limited to the provision of an accessible worksite, acquisition or modification of equipment, job restructuring, and a modified work schedule.”
HF 146: This would amend the ICRA to make it illegal for an employer to inquire about an employee’s past salary history, to release a former employer’s salary to a prospective employer, and to advertise a position without including information about the minimum salary for the position.
HF 147: HF 2074; HF 2075: These three bills purport to undo the public sector bargaining reforms enacted in 2017. They would expand the subjects o bargaining to include virtually all aspects of wages, benefits, and working conditions; allow for bargaining over dues checkoffs, and eliminate the requirement that the a bargaining unit must vote to recertify at the end of the agreement.
HF 155: This proposal would prohibit an employer from taking adverse employment action based upon the reproductive choices of an employees, including the decision to use certain contraceptive drugs or medical devices.
HF 64: This would prohibit employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal background or asking for the disclosure of criminal history until an interview is conducted; or, if there is no interview, until a conditional job offer is made.
HF 177: Amends the ICRA to require break time for employees to express breast milk and provide a suitable private room; the employer may not discipline or terminate an employee whose production is adversely affected by the need to express breast milk.
HF 19: This bill would make it illegal to discriminate against applicants based upon their unemployment status, i.e. applicants who are unemployed at the time of application or have a history of unemployment could not be excluded on that basis.
HF 22: This bill would impose requirements on employment agencies to provide certain notices to employees, and regulate the amount they charge for transportation services or meals.
HF 24: Imposes a penalty on employers who are found to have willfully misclassified employees for purposes of unemployment contributions.
HF 25: Requires the payout of all accrued vacation or paid time off at the time of employment separation.
HF 26: Requires employers to provide a 30 minute meal break for every 7 hours worked; and a ten minute rest break for every 4 hours worked.
HF 28: Establishes an annual “prevailing wage” for public improvement construction projects.
HF 29: This bill would make licensed teachers exempt from the 2017 public sector collective bargaining reforms by designating teachers as public safety employees.
HF 30: The proposal requires employers to treat adoptive parents the same as biological parents with respect to employment policies, benefits, and protections.
HF 90 In calculating the wage basis for workers’ compensation benefits, overtime and premium pay must be included; under existing law those items are excluded. In addition, if permanent partial disability or death benefits are payable, this bill would require an annual cost of living adjustment.
HF 91 Increases the minimum wage gradually until it reaches $12 per hour on January 1, 2022. Starting July 1, 2022, the minimum wage would be adjusted annually based upon the cost of living. A bill for an act relating to the state minimum hourly wage
HF 2096: Provides state employees with paid family leave. A bill for an act providing for paid family leave for state employees. “Family leave” is allowed for reasons similar to FMLA leave.