Legislative Agenda 2013-14: Human Resources & Employment Law

Wisconsin has enacted employment regulations that go beyond what is required under federal law. This creates the need for employers to comply with two separate regulatory structures, and adds to the cost and complexity of doing business here. This additional layer of state regulation often exposes businesses to increased opportunities for litigation. These factors, along with costly unemployment and workers compensation systems, create a competitive disadvantage for employers.  WMC supports the following reform policies to promote less costly and cumbersome employment laws. 

•           Reform Wisconsin’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Wisconsin passed its own FMLA in 1988, five years prior to President Clinton signing a federal FMLA into law. A harmonization of the laws never occurred, so many Wisconsin employers face compliance with two separate employment laws for each employee. For example, each law has unique requirements for the number of hours worked needed in the preceding year to qualify for FMLA, substitution of leave, use of intermittent leave, and definition of the calendar year. Exempting employers who must follow federal regulations from the state law would remove the burden of navigating the many differences between the two laws. 

•           Reform Wisconsin’s Wage and Hour Laws. State and federal law vary significantly in a number of important ways for wage and hour requirements. There are differences in what constitutes a white collar exemption, the definition of work time, and obligations for time recordkeeping. By making the laws the same, employers will spend less time and money complying with different requirements, enabling employers to instead invest job growth or training opportunities. 

•           Strengthen restrictive covenant protections. These protections known as “non-compete” clauses protect the intellectual property or proprietary information of employers from misuse by former employees. Wisconsin judges are often forced to invalidate these contracts in their entirety if any portion is deemed inappropriate. Allowing judges to “Blue Pencil” certain provisions from a contract while preserving the remaining clauses will give employers more certainty that their intellectual property is protected. 

•           Strengthen cost controls for workers compensation. Through the Wisconsin Workers Compensation Advisory Council proceedings, WMC advocates for policies that help address the high cost of health care in the workers compensation system. This legislative session management would like to discuss directing care to providers with occupational health backgrounds, requiring medical professionals to have an occupational health background in order to determine disability, and having the Department of Workforce Development update their workers compensation manuals amongst other items.