While the General Assembly was in session last week and holding several committee meetings, the PA Chamber sent communications to lawmakers on the House and Senate Labor and Industry Committees, expressing our position on a number of labor-related bills that were scheduled for committee votes.
In a memo to members of the House Labor and Industry Committee, the PA Chamber expressed support for a number of bills that advanced from the committee and now await further consideration by the full House:
- H.B. 1819 – Clarifies unemployment compensation eligibility in response to employers who report job applicants skipping job interviews or otherwise failing to put forth a good faith effort to obtain employment;
- H.B. 1829 – Provides a remote option for minors to obtain a work permit rather than requiring the process to be done in person – a temporary suspension during the pandemic that we would like to see made permanent;
- H.B. 1837 – Ends the requirement of two witness signatures or a notarized signature on a workers’ compensation Compromise and Release Agreement, if the claimant submits a sworn statement acknowledging their understanding of the agreement – another temporary reform made during the pandemic that we believe should remain permanent.
Separate memos were sent to the Senate Labor and Industry Committee last week pushing back on two significant employment-related bills, both of which advanced from committee despite the PA Chamber’s concerns and now await further consideration by the full Senate.
Senate Bill 775 aims to greatly expand workers’ compensation eligibility for certain public workers as it relates to mental health care. The memo urged the committee to hold off on considering the legislation based on the PA Chamber’s understanding that a compromise approach was still possible. “Treatment for mental health conditions under any circumstance is critically important and we understand health insurance for law enforcement and emergency responders covers this type of care,” the memo stated. “However, we do not believe S.B. 775 strikes the right balance – potential costs on municipalities and taxpayers are massive; and unlike current practice in which the treatment is covered by regular health insurance, under workers’ compensation a significant portion of increased costs would flow directly from taxpayers to plaintiffs’ attorneys. Unless a compromise is adopted, we urge you to oppose this bill.”
The second memo to committee members last week urged opposition to S.B. 320, which aims to prohibit non-compete agreements in the broadcasting industry. The PA Chamber stated that employers, employees and potential hires should not be prohibited from pursuing an agreement in which the individual commits, for a relatively short period of time, to refrain from leaving and working for a competitor after the employer has made the investment to help facilitate that employees’ career. “Employers from a range of industries include restrictive covenants in employment contracts … many of which may be particularly relevant for the broadcasting industry,” the memo stated. “It is worth noting that non-compete agreements do already have limits and may be deemed unenforceable if found to be unduly restrictive.”