What you need to know about paid leave “for any reason” and how it will affect Nevada employers and employees.
While many cities and states are approving laws that give workers paid leave, the time off from work often comes with a requirement that it be used for a specific purpose, such as an absence from work stemming from the employee’s illness or the birth of a child.
However, some states are going one step further and approving employee leave laws that allow workers to take leave for any reason.
Nevada recently became the second state to mandate that large employers provide paid leave for any reason. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Private employers with 50 or more employees in the state are required to provide 40 hours of paid leave for any reason to employees who work 40 hours a week under the new law. However, new employers are not required to comply with the law during the first 2 years of operation.
The bill was signed by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on June 13, 2019.
Employers cannot require an employee to provide an explanation for using the paid leave.
Legislators noted in the law that it is not meant to “prohibit, preempt or discourage any contract or other agreement that provides a more generous paid leave benefit or paid time off benefit.”
Existing Nevada state law requires private employers to pay employees certain minimum compensation and to provide certain benefits, including overtime compensation and meal and rest breaks.
Paid leave bill details
The new law requires that employees accrue at least 0.01923 hours of paid leave for each hour worked in a “benefit year.” This means that employees who work 40 hours a week would be entitled to about 40 hours of paid leave per year.
The employer determines what constitutes the “benefit year.” The paid leave law defines a “benefit year” as a 365-day period used by an employer when calculating the accrual of the leave.
Employees can use the paid leave after 90 days of employment with the employer, and use the leave for any reason.
Employers cannot require an employee to provide an explanation for using the paid leave or require that the employee find a replacement as a condition for taking advantage of the time off from work.
However, employers can place some limitations, such as:
- Limit the use of the paid leave to 40 hours within a benefit year
- Require that employees take no less than 4 hours of leave at a time
- Require that new employees wait 90 days before using accrued paid leave
Employees may carry over up to 40 hours of unused paid leave.
Employers must provide a record of paid leave
Employers must provide employees an accounting of available paid leave each payday. The accounting may be included in a paystub or through another method.
A record of the accrual and use of paid leave for each employee must be kept for 1 year. Covered employers must make those records available for inspection by the Labor Commissioner upon request.
Employers are not required to pay employees for accrued, unused paid leave at the end of a benefit year or if the employment is terminated.
Exceptions to the paid leave law
The law does not apply to employees that are:
It also provides exemptions for employers in their first 2 years of operation, and employers that, acting under a contract, policy, or collective bargaining or other agreement, provide employees with paid leave or paid time off benefits that meet or exceed the law’s requirements.
Calculation of pay
Employers must pay an employee paid leave at the same rate and time that the employee normally receives. If an employee is paid hourly, the rate of paid leave is calculated by the employee’s hourly rate. If an employee is paid by salary, commission, piece rate, or any other method, the rate for paid leave should be determined by dividing wages received for the previous 90 days by the number of hours worked.
The calculation of total wages includes nondiscretionary bonuses earned by the employee. However, the employer does not need to include:
- Bonuses earned at the sole discretion of the employer
- Overtime pay
- Hazardous duty pay
- Holiday pay
Frontloading or accrual methods
An employer may choose to frontload the leave — credit employees with the total amount of paid leave for a benefit year at the beginning of the benefit year — or require that paid leave be accrued over the course of the benefit year.
Employers that choose the frontloading method are not required to carry over an employee’s accrued, unused leave to the following year. If the accrual method is used, employees must be permitted to carry over accrued, unused paid leave to the following benefit year; however, employers may limit carryover to 40 hours.
The law expressly forbids employers from retaliating against an employee who uses paid leave.
A bulletin explaining employees’ and employers’ rights and obligations under the law must be posted in a conspicuous location in each workplace maintained by the employer by Jan. 1, 2020.
Employees must give employers notice of their intention to take paid leave as soon as practicable.
Enforcement of paid leave law
The state’s Labor Commissioner will enforce the law. The Commissioner can impose an administrative penalty of $5,000 for each violation in addition to other remedies and penalties. Failure to comply with the law’s requirements, including failure to provide leave or notice or to maintain legally required records, will be considered a violation. Violations of the law are considered misdemeanors.
Paid leave for any reason: Maine and Nevada
So far, only Maine and Nevada require employers to give their employees paid leave that can be used at the employee’s option, including for non-medical personal reasons.
Maine lawmakers approved “paid leave for any reason” legislation earlier this year.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed “An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave,” on May 28, mandating that employees can accrue 1 hour of paid leave time for every 40 hours worked at their base rate of pay, for a maximum of 40 hours of paid time off per year. That law is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.
Law changes for Nevada employers in 2020
A significant shift in the approach to paid leave laws isn’t the only change Nevada employers will see in 2020. Here are some changes coming up:
- Nevada lawmakers expanded the state’s employment discrimination law, adding protections to ensure equal pay for equal work based on gender. The new pay equity requirement goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020
- This summer, Nevada became the 1st state to prohibit employers from disqualifying candidates because of a failed drug screen for marijuana. Gov. Steve Sisolak signed the new law on June 5, and it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020
- A minimum wage increase is on tap for Nevada employers, starting July 2020. The law mandates that starting July 1, 2020, employers will have to pay $9 an hour if the employer does not offer health benefits and $8 an hour if the employer offers health benefits