On March 23, the Ohio House passed Senate Bill 47 by a vote of 56-37. The legislation, which is an Ohio Chamber Top 10 priority bill, seeks to help employers who have employees working from home avoid frivolous wage and hour lawsuits for failing to compensate for working hours they did not know were performed.
The legislation adopts into Ohio law, longstanding U.S. Supreme Court precedent which does not require insignificant and insubstantial amounts of time spent working to be compensated. The Ohio Chamber pushed for this reform because as more hourly employees are working in unsupervised settings and have access to work materials on their phones, the risk of an employer facing a wage and hour lawsuit for unpaid overtime increases since the employer has a diminished ability to properly track an employee’s working time.
During the House committee process, two amendments were added to the bill. The first amendment adopted more provisions of a federal statute that accounts for collective bargaining agreements. The other amendment reforms the process for bringing class actions for unpaid overtime under Ohio law. Under this new procedure, an employee must affirmatively opt-in as a member of the class rather than current law which presumes similarly situated employees are automatically a part of the class action lawsuit.
Senate Bill 47 now will go back to the Ohio Senate for a concurrence vote due to the inclusion of the amendments and the Ohio Chamber will continue to advocate for its passage.