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South Carolina: Employee Benefits Bill a Reminder of What Local Jurisdictions Can Mandate

March 29, 2017


Fresh off the overwhelming rejection of union representation by Boeing employees in February, and with commentators largely crediting the state’s manufacturing boom to its right to work laws and lowest-in-the-nation 1.6% union participation rate, some South Carolina lawmakers are pushing legislation to bolster employers’ rights and discretion with respect to benefits offered to their employees.

The proposed Senate Bill S.218, which if enacted would be codified under S.C. Code Ann. § 41-1-25, would prohibit cities and counties from mandating that employers provide certain employment-related benefits to their employees.  For purposes of the proposed legislation, “Employee Benefits” are defined broadly to include “health benefits, disability benefits, death benefits, group accidental death and dismemberment benefits, paid days off for holidays, paid sick leave, paid vacation leave, paid personal necessity leave, retirement benefits, and profit-sharing benefits.”

Although we are unaware of any jurisdictions with these mandates in South Carolina, the practice of requiring certain employee-friendly benefits as a condition of doing business in a city is a common practice in other parts of the country.  For example, San Francisco requires certain employers to provide mandatory sick leave to employees who work in the city, which generally accrues for eligible employees at a rate of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. As another example, both New York City and Washington, D.C. require certain employers to provide qualified pre-tax transportation benefits to their employees.

Although this new legislation would protect South Carolina companies at home, employers that either have offices in other cities or employ a mobile workforce outside this state should take this opportunity to ensure the benefits they are offering to employees are consistent with the laws of the jurisdictions in which its employees work.  While the majority of these benefit mandates apply to certain sized employees, some apply to all employees within a jurisdiction.

Our Insights are published as a service to clients and friends. They are intended to be informational and do not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation.