States Vote For Paid Sick Leave, Higher Minimum Wages & Legalized Marijuana

States Vote For Paid Sick Leave, Higher Minimum Wages & Legalized Marijuana

Voters in many states weighed in on important public-policy questions affecting employers and HR.

 

Paid Sick Leave

Massachusetts voters approved a measure allowing workers at companies with at least 11 employees to earn paid sick time. The law goes into effect in July 2015, when workers can earn 1 hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked. The earned hours can be used for personal illness or medical appointments, an illness in the family, or to deal with a domestic abuse situation. Employees will not be able to earn more than 40 paid hours per year. Employers with fewer than 11 employee will need to provide unpaid sick time.

 

Minimum Wage

  • Arkansas voted to raise its hourly minimum wage from $6.25 to $7.50 at the beginning of 2015, increasing that by 50 cents in 2016 and again in 2017.
  • Nebraska voted to raise its hourly minimum wage from the federal minimum of $7.25 to $8.00 in 2015 and $9.00 in 2016.
  • South Dakota voted to raise its hourly minimum wage from the federal minimum of $8.50 next year. After that, increases will be linked to inflation.
  • Alaska voters approved a hike in the state’s hourly minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 in 2015 and again to $9.75 in 2016. After that, increases will be linked to inflation.
  • Illinois said yes to a nonbinding measure asking whether the hourly minimum wage should be raised from $8.25 to $10 next year.

 

Marijuana Legalization

  • Oregon backed a measure that makes it legal for an adult age 21 and over to possess up to eight ounces of “dried” marijuana and up to four plants.
  • Washington, D.C. passed a measure that makes it legal for an adult age 21 and over to possess up to 2 ounces of “dried” marijuana and 3 plants for personal use. The measure will not take effect until after a review by Congress.
  • Alaska voters passed a measure that makes it legal for adults age 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and up to six plants.
  • Florida turned down a measure that would have made it the 24th state to legalize marijuana use for medical reasons.