The Senate Committee on Government Operations, Consumer Affairs, Energy, Environment and Planning on Thursday unanimously moved forward a bill that would mandate businesses post a series of labor law posters in visible locations in their establishments.
Department of Labor Commissioner Gary Molloy testified that his department is in favor of the bill.
“We know for far too long businesses in our community have not posted their labor law posters and job vacancies. We are in the process of increasing our compliance enforcement. In the interim, this law provides a mandate, a call to action for employers to do their part,” Molloy said.
A total of ten posters would be required, including: an employee rights poster which states the minimum wage, an equal employment opportunity poster, a mandatory rest and meal breaks poster, an occupational safety and health poster, an unemployment insurance information poster, an uniformed service employment poster, a poster outlining worker’s compensation details, a poster explaining sexual harassment and who to contact should it be encountered in the workplace, a family medical leave act poster and a poster regarding polygraph protection.
Sen. Javan James questioned whether the posters could be consolidated to a single large poster containing all the information.
No limits are set for the duration of time which businesses have to put up the required posters, but Nesha Christian-Hendrickson said rules and regulations for 15 to 30 days, or any other time period, can be built in.
Administrative fines for noncompliance were also suggested by Molloy on behalf of the Department of Labor. He recommended no less than $25 and no more than $5,000.
Should the bill pass, “it provides for the Department of Labor to follow our current administrative appeal process and provides for an administrative penalty structure with the ability for an appeal,” Molloy said.
Molloy said a few amendments to the bill would be advisable, chiefly one involving the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.
“That’s where we see some overlap, between where the Department of Labor has its responsibilities and the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs has theirs … We don’t want to be able to affect or interfere with any of the administrative processes that are in place right now,” Molloy said. He suggested the DLCA be invited to provide testimony since the bill directly affects a statute that DLCA administers.
“The bill ensures that businesses provide notice to employees of their rights under local and federal law. If this body agrees with the amendments suggested by the Virgin Islands Department of Labor, this bill will strengthen the Department of Labor’s ability to provide greater compliance in our community,” Molloy said.
Voting in favor were all six present senators: Sens. Myron Jackson, Marvin Blyden, Allison DeGazon, James, Athneil Thomas and Alicia Barnes. Sen. Kenneth Gittens was absent.