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State Labor Laws, 2003 - page 17 / 27

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ward that coverage, until the employee is covered by health and dental coverage pro- vided by the armed forces. The agency must also permit the employee to continue par- ticipating in any pre-tax account in which the employee participated when he or she reported for active service, to the extent of employee pay available for that purpose. Political subdivisions have total discretion regarding employee benefit continuation.

Mississippi

School attendance. The Compulsory School Attendance Law was amended to apply to any child who has attained or will attain the age of 5 years on or before September 1 and has enrolled in a full-day public school kin- dergarten program. Provided, however, that the parent or guardian of any child enrolled in a full-day public school kindergarten pro- gram will be allowed to remove the child from the program on a one-time basis, and the child will not be deemed a compulsory school-age child until he or she becomes 6 years old.

Other laws. A law was passed creating a program of paid educational leave for hospi- tal employees. Hospitals may grant paid educational leave to an employee(s) who 1) is working at the sponsoring hospital at the time of application; 2) attends any college or school approved and designated by the spon- soring hospital; and 3) agrees to work in a healthcare occupation as a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, speech pathologist, occupational or physi- cal therapist, or other healthcare professional in the sponsoring hospital for period of time equal to the paid educational leave time, but not less than 2 years. Before leave is granted, each applicant shall enter into a contract with the sponsoring hospital agreeing to the terms and conditions of the leave being issued. Failure to meet the terms of the contract shall be grounds for revocation of the professional license that was earned through the paid edu- cational leave program.

Montana

Wages. The exemption from minimum wage and overtime payment requirements for those individuals providing companionship services to the aged or infirm was amended to specify that this exemption also applies to those individuals providing respite care and that the exemption applies only when the person providing the service is em- ployed directly by a family member or an individual who is a legal guardian. This ex- emption is more restrictive than Federal law

as the person providing the service must be employed directly by a family member and not by a third-party provider.

The prevailing wage law was amended to require the Department of Labor and Indus- try to include work performed by licensed electrical contractors and licensed master plumbers in the wage survey used to deter- mine the standard prevailing wage rate for public works construction contracts.

Employee leasing. The professional em- ployer organizations and groups licensing law was amended to exempt from coverage arrangements by healthcare facilities to pro- vide their own employees to perform ser- vices at and/or on behalf of another healthcare facility or at and on behalf of a private office of physicians, dentists, or other licensed and regulated physical or mental healthcare workers.

The prevailing wage law was amended to provide an exception from the require- ment to pay standard prevailing wages for an employer who, as a nonprofit organiza- tion providing vocational rehabilitation, per- forms a public works contract for non-con- struction services and who employs an in- dividual whose earning capacity is impaired by a mental, emotional, or physical disabil- ity if the employer conforms with the Fed- eral Fair Labor Standards Act requirements for the employment of workers with dis- abilities and pays the individual wages that are equal to or above the State’s minimum wage.

The wage payment law was amended to provide that on those occasions when an employee submits a time sheet after the employer’s established deadline for process- ing time sheets for a specific time period and the employer does not pay the employee within the 10 business days provided for in the statute, the employer may pay the em- ployee the wages due in the ensuing pay period. Employers may not withhold pay- ment of the employee’s wages beyond the next ensuing pay period. If there is not an established time period or time when the wages are due and payable, the pay period is presumed to be semimonthly.

Preference. The law providing for a public employment hiring preference for eligible former or current members of the United States Armed Forces was amended to extend the hiring preference to former or current members of the Montana army or air na- tional guard who have satisfactorily com- pleted a minimum of 6 years service in the Armed Forces, the last 3 years of which have been served in the Montana army or air na- tional guard.

The law providing a preference for State residents for employment on State construc- tion projects was amended to ensure that at least 50 percent of workers of each contrac- tor performing labor on a State construction project are bona fide Montana residents if qualified personnel are available. Previously, contractors, subcontractors, or employers were required to ensure that at least 50 per- cent of the work be performed by State resi- dents on the entire project. The preference requirement applies to any State construc- tion project funded by State or Federal funds, except a project partially funded with Fed- eral aid money from the United States De- partment of Transportation or when resi- dency preference laws are specifically pro- hibited by Federal law.

Child labor. The Department of Labor and Industry is now authorized rather than re- quired to adopt rules to implement and to prevent circumvention or evasion of the child labor standards act.

Worker privacy. A law was repealed that had placed limits on the liability of nonpublic employers who disclosed employment in- formation. The law had provided that a nonpublic employer who provided informa- tion about a former or current employee’s employment-related performance to a pro- spective employer of the employee upon request of the prospective employer or former or current employee would not be liable for civil damages for the disclosure or any consequences related to the disclosure unless the employer knowingly, purposely, or negligently disclosed information that was false.

Nebraska

Equal employment opportunity. The Fair Employment Practice Act was amended to revise provisions relating to hearings before the Equal Opportunity Commission. It was specified that individuals who have suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm be- cause of whistleblower protection provision violations are added to the list of those com- plainants who are entitled to, at any stage of the proceedings prior to dismissal, file an action directly in the district court of the county where the alleged violation occurred. The deadline for filing an action directly in the district court is 90 days after the com- plainant receives notice of the last action the commission will take on the complaint or charge. When entering the last action, the commission is to issue written notice of the 90-day deadline to the complainant by certi- fied mail. The last action on the complaint

Monthly Labor Review

January 2004

19

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