Background

Even before the mandates responding to the COVID-19 pandemic response, employers were reeling from a multitude of policy changes affecting their operations. In just the past five years, employers have been asked to adjust to a complex minimum wage law, paid leave mandates, pay equity requirements, scheduling laws, limits on working hours, expanded liability for employee lawsuits and many more regulatory directives from state agencies. Employers are struggling to recover from the last two years and are facing serious labor shortages. For 2022, OBI will urge the Legislature to help businesses recover and resist imposing new regulatory or cost burdens.

 

Policy Objectives

 

Workers’ Compensation

SAIF: OBI opposes legislation that weakens the financial position of SAIF or reduces its ability to fulfill its statutory mission to make workers’ compensation insurance available to as many Oregon employers as possible.

OBI’s position includes but is not limited to:

  • Any payment by SAIF to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) or any other government entity.
  • Any reduction in the SAIF capital account.
  • Any encumbrance on or use of future revenue streams.

Workers’ Benefit Fund: OBI opposes legislation that would reduce or encumber the Workers’ Compensation Benefit Fund.

Workers’ Compensation: OBI supports the Management Labor Advisory Council (MLAC) process and opposes legislation not approved by MLAC. OBI opposes legislation that would create presumptions for coverage and supports exclusive remedy protections for all Oregon employers. OBI supports a strengthened managed care organization structure. OBI supports the current definition of “attending physician” and opposes proposals to expand “attending physician” status to physician assistants and nurse practitioners. OBI opposes legislation that would harm or eliminate self-insurance.

 

Unemployment

Unemployment Insurance Benefits: OBI supports strengthening provisions for denial of UI benefits for workplace misconduct and opposes the expanded use of UI benefits beyond their intended use, including legislative “sweeps” of UI funds, diversion of UI funds for striking workers or employees on family or medical leave, or for job training purposes. OBI opposes legislation or rules that eliminate the work-search requirement for UI eligibility.

Unemployment Insurance System: OBI supports legislation that protects the integrity and solvency of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund while maintaining a stable and predictable tax structure.

 

Safety and Health

Oregon OSHA: OBI opposes expansion of Oregon OSHA authority to cite or penalize employers. OBI opposes increased Oregon OSHA enforcement staff unless it is preceded by an increase in consultation staff. OBI will continue to oppose any effort by the division to act outside of its regulatory authority.

Safety and Health: OBI supports policies and legislation that are consistent with the Oregon Court of Appeals ruling in OSHA v. CC&L Roofing, where the court found that employers are not liable for supervisor misconduct. OBI opposes any rulemaking, regulatory action or legislation that undermines the basic principle that employers should not be liable for employee misconduct.

 

Employment and Labor

Attorney Fees: OBI supports proposals that provide for prevailing party attorney fees. OBI supports proposals that allow attorney fees for employers in meritless cases.

Concurrent Leave Laws: OBI supports legislation that more closely aligns all Oregon leave laws with federal leave laws to ease unnecessary administrative burdens on Oregon employers. OBI opposes any additional regulatory burdens.

Discrimination: OBI supports general principles of non-discrimination and existing laws. OBI opposes expansion of causes of action as well as legislation that would expand definition beyond current law. OBI opposes legislation that would create greater burdens of proof for employers.

Family Leave: OBI supports aligning paid family and medical leave with the Oregon Family Leave Act and federal the Family Medical Leave Act to create consistency for employers. OBI opposes expansion of employer-paid leave mandates.

Labor: OBI supports the right of employees to engage in fair and secret ballot elections in union organizing campaigns. OBI supports the right of employers to communicate their views on unionization with their employees and an election process that gives employers adequate time and a fair opportunity to convey their views. OBI opposes legislation or regulation, including card check systems, that limit the ability of workers to vote in a secret ballot union election. OBI opposes any expansion of employee rights to use employer resources for purposes of organizing or other union-related activity.

Non-compete Agreements: OBI opposes legislation that would eliminate the ability of businesses to protect trade secrets through enforcement of non-compete agreements.

Overtime: OBI supports a flexible weekly overtime standard that mandates overtime payments for all hours worked in excess of 40 per week without requiring redundant extra pay for daily and weekly overtime. OBI supports legislation that restores employer flexibility and does not restrain the ability of employees to work overtime if they so choose. OBI supports the right of employers and employees to agree to overtime and maximum working hours.

Pay Equity: OBI supports legislation that prohibits pay discrimination based on the 10 protected classes listed in Oregon’s equal pay law while allowing pay differences based on any non-discriminatory reason.

Penalty Wages: OBI supports legislation that limits liability for penalty wages when there is a dispute over wages due after an employee has left employment.

Personnel Information: OBI supports appropriate personnel file policies that protect the secrecy of confidential workplace investigations.

Preemption: OBI supports statewide preemption of local government employment-related mandates.

Private Right of Action: OBI opposes expansion of private rights of action in statute and supports requirements that complaints be filed with state agencies prior to right to sue. OBI opposes legislation that would allow unions and trial lawyers to file suit outside of existing processes.

Scheduling: OBI supports legislation that allows employers and employees flexibility in scheduling work hours, as well as meal and rest break periods.

Wage and Hour: OBI supports legislation that creates sensible policies around meal and rest breaks that provide employees with flexibility without undue penalties for employers.

Workplace Drugs and Alcohol: OBI supports policies and legislation that support an employer’s right to apply and enforce zero-tolerance workplace drug and alcohol policies. OBI opposes policies and legislation that would weaken or undermine the Oregon Supreme Court’s decision in Emerald Steel Fabricators v. BOLI (2010). OBI opposes legislation that would encumber employers’ abilities to enforce zero-tolerance workplace drug and alcohol policies or employer drug testing policies.

Workplace Regulation: OBI opposes expansion of employer liability through new and expanded protected classes and activities.

COMMITTEE CHAIR:

Paul Ostroff, Lane Powell PC

Download OBI’s 2022 Policy Principles

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