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Virginia Governor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Law Containing Employment-Related Provisions

On May 21, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation (HB 972/SB 2) to decriminalize simple marijuana possession and prohibit employers from requiring applicants to disclose information related to past criminal charges for such possession. The law will take effect July 1, 2020.

Virginia Delays Phase One of its Business Reopening Plan in Northern Virginia Region

On May 12, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 62 and Order of Public Health Emergency Four (“Executive Order 62”), which delays the implementation of Phase One of the Commonwealth’s three-phase reopening plan for the Northern Virginia Region until May 29, 2020. As previously discussed, on May 9, 2020, Governor Northam issued Executive Order 61 and Order of Public Health Emergency Three, which will lift certain restrictions on nonessential businesses beginning on May 15, 2020.

Virginia General Assembly Makes Pro-Employee Changes to State Laws

Executive Summary: The Virginia General Assembly took a number of employee-favorable actions in its 2020 Session and its Reconvened Session in April 2020, which will require employers to revise their employment policies and procedures, including implementing a gradual increase in the minimum wage, expanding state anti-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, and creating new employer liabilities for misclassifying employees as independent contractors. In the most striking change, the General Assembly amended the Virginia Human Rights Act (VHRA) to now allow for a private right of action. Accordingly, many employees will obtain new rights of action against Virginia employers on July 1, 2020.

Virginia Plans Gradual Three-Phase Lifting of Restrictions on Nonessential Businesses

At a press conference on May 4, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the Commonwealth’s three-phase plan for easing, and eventually lifting, the restrictions imposed on nonessential businesses because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virginia thus joins the growing number of jurisdictions that have announced and/or implemented measures to reopen nonessential businesses.

Virginia Renews Work Share Program to Support Virginia Employers, Employees

Prior to the passage of SB 548, Virginia was one of 25 states without an active work-sharing program. On April 22, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam enacted a new work-sharing program, which will permit employers to reduce employees’ normal hours of work between 10% and 60% and permit employees to receive unemployment benefits for those periods of reduced hours and income.

Virginia Enacts Work-Sharing Program

On April 22, 2020, the Virginia General Assembly adopted Governor Ralph Northam’s proposed amendment to a bill that will re-establish a work-sharing program in Virginia.1 The amended work-share bill received broad bi-partisan support in both chambers of the legislature. As a result, on January 1, 2021, Virginia will join a group of more than 20 states that offer work-sharing programs, which provide prorated unemployment benefits to workers whose employers reduce their hours in an effort to avoid layoffs.

Virginia Minimum Wage Increase Will Take Effect on May 1, 2021

Virginia’s legislation raising the hourly minimum wage has cleared its final hurdle and is set to take effect on May 1, 2021.

Virginia Increases its Minimum Wage to $12.00 per Hour by 2023

On April 22, 2020, during a special legislative session, the Virginia General Assembly voted to approve Governor Ralph Northam’s proposed amendment to a bill that will increase the Commonwealth’s minimum wage to $12.00 per hour by January 1, 2023.

Virginia to Gradually Raise Minimum Wage

The General Assembly of Virginia has passed legislation to raise the minimum wage in stages to arrive at $15.00 an hour by 2026. Once the General Assembly passes Governor Ralph Northam’s amendments (pushing back the original enactment date), employers must start increasing employees’ minimum wages beginning May 1, 2021.

Virginia Enacts New Legislation Offering Additional Protection to Workers

When the Democrats took control of the General Assembly in addition to the governorship in the November 2019 election, many predicted an expansion of workers’ rights. That prediction was realized with the 2020 Virginia General Assembly session. This included the recent passage and enactment of four bills that grant new protections to workers in the private and public sector on matters of discrimination, whistleblowing, contractual rights, and compensation.
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