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Upcoming Changes to Nebraska Labor Law

Barry Kennedy, President of the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce and Industry, shares information on changes that affect Nebraska Labor Law this month. Have a look:

Earlier this year, the Nebraska Legislature passed and Governor Heineman signed LB959, one of the session’s most important labor law bills.  We want to remind you about this important change to Nebraska’s labor law and ask you to consider informing your members that LB959 becomes law on July 18, 2012.

Introduced by Fremont Senator Charlie Janssen, LB959 allows employers to share more information with prospective employers about current and former employees with less threat of legal liability.  Upon receiving the written consent of the prospective employee, LB959 permits current or former employers to disclose relevant workplace and job-related information.

Until this year, Nebraska was one of only a handful of states without such employer protection.  This is one of the key reasons the State Chamber supported LB959.  Enactment of the bill is expected to improve Nebraska’s standing in national competitiveness rankings.

Employers are encouraged to learn the new law’s requirements, as well as its limitations, before changing policies, procedures and forms.  Remember, in order to obtain the protections under LB959, employers must first obtain a written authorization from the employee.  That consent must be signed and dated, and in either a stand-alone document, or as a conspicuous part of the employment application (in bold and larger typeface) that states: “I, (applicant), hereby give consent to any and all prior employers of mine to provide information with regard to my employment with prior employers to (prospective employer).”

Employers obtaining specific consent will be given the protection for a six-month period when providing the following information:

— Date and duration of employment;
— Pay rate and wage history on the date of receipt of written consent;
— Job description and duties;
— The most recent written performance evaluation prepared prior to the date of the request and provided to the employee during the course of his or her employment;
— Attendance information;
— Results of drug or alcohol tests administered within one year prior to the request;
— Threats of violence, harassing acts, or threatening behavior related to the workplace or directed at another employee;
— Whether the employee was voluntarily or involuntarily separated from employment and the reasons for the separation; and
— Whether the employee is eligible for rehire.

Please understand this is a general summary.  Employers should know there are complexities surrounding this area of the law.  Your members are advised to discuss their specific situations with the advice and assistance of legal counsel.  While LB959 is helpful to the business community, employers seeking to utilize these new protections under the new law should examine and alter current policies and procedures with guidance of counsel and/or human resources professionals.

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