Reminder: New Legislation Takes Effect this Month

Legislation regarding the Paid Family and Medical Leave program, wage and salary information, medical debt, healthcare whistleblowers, and dental laboratories goes into effect on July 28.
The Washington Legislature adjourned its 105-day legislative session on April 28, 2019. With about 2,500 bills introduced and nearly 500 bills achieving final passage, there were numerous issues to track this session. A full summary of the 2019 Legislative Session was provided in May.

Here is a reminder of the legislation taking effect this month.

Paid Family & Medical Leave

Effective: July 28, 2019

Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1399 updates the original Paid Family and Medical Leave law, including changing the time an employee must wait to receive benefits from the first 7 days of leave to the first 7 consecutive calendar days, allowing an employer to waive certain employee notice requirements such as providing 30-day notice when leave is foreseeable, and stipulating that an employee cannot work and receive benefits at the same time. 

Under the original law, employers were not allowed to supplement the pay of an employee out on Paid Family and Medical Leave with other paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave. The passage of SHB 1399 gives employers the option to offer company provided paid leave on top of an employee’s Paid Family and Medical Leave benefit. You can read more about these changes on the WSDA Blog

Wage & Salary Information

Effective: July 28, 2019

This session, the Legislature passed Engrossed Substitute House Bill (ESHB) 1696, concerning wage and salary information. The new law prohibits employers from seeking the salary history of a job applicant from either the applicant or the applicant’s former employer. However, employers can confirm salary information if a job applicant has voluntarily disclosed the information or if the employer has already negotiated salary and made an offer to the applicant.

The law includes additional requirements for organizations with over 15 employees. These employers would be required to provide minimum salary information to applicants after an initial offer of employment has been extended, if a request is made by the applicant. Additionally, such employers would be required to provide minimum salary information to employees receiving an offer for internal transfer or promotion, if a request is made.  

Medical Debt

Effective: July 28, 2019

Substitute House Bill 1531 was amended from its original form, ultimately gaining support from the business community, among others. The passed legislation updates current laws regarding medical debt. Changes include lowering the prejudgment interest rate on medical debt to 9%; prohibiting medical debt from being assigned to a collection agency until at least 120 days after the debtor’s receipt of the first billing statement; and barring debt creditors from seeking a warrant for the arrest of the debtor. 

Additionally, a collection agency may not report adverse information to a consumer credit agency or credit bureau until at least 180 days after the original obligation was received by the agency for collection. The bill also specifies that if a debtor has entered into a voluntary payment agreement, they must give notice if they want to discontinue the payment plan. In addition, properly executed post judgment writs, including writs of garnishment and execution, are not required to be ceased, and second or subsequent requests for information already provided do not require the termination of collection efforts. 

Healthcare Whistleblowers

Effective: July 28, 2019

Under Substitute House Bill 1049, whistleblower protections are expanded to include those who initiate an investigation or administrative proceeding about a complaint made to the Department of Health in good faith. Additionally, the bill provides that a whistleblower who is not an employee of the health care provider or healthcare facility in question, but is subject to retaliation, may file a civil cause of action within two years of the retaliatory action.

Dental Laboratories

Effective: July 28, 2019

WSDA supported the passage of House Bill (HB) 1177, which requires dental laboratories doing business in Washington to register with the Department of Health. A laboratory is not required to register if it operates under the supervision of a licensed dentist as part of a dental practice or in an educational institution and its work originates inside such a facility. Additionally, HB 1177 stipulates that beginning January 31, 2021, dental laboratories must have an employee who works at least 30 hours per week and is either a registered dental technician or has completed at least 12 hours of continuing education in dental laboratory technology.

Learn More

To learn more about legislation passed during the 2019 legislative session that may impact you, your patients or your practice, read the 2019 Legislative Session Summary on the WSDA Blog.