Labor and Employment Law Overview: Hawaii

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Hawaii law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also protect whistleblowers. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Hawaii permits, but limits, preemployment credit checks, criminal checks and substance abuse testing. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Hawaii, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime, breastfeeding breaks and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Hawaii has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including temporary disability insurance, health care continuation, pay statements, pay frequency and wage deduction requirements. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Hawaii law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including family leave; organ, bone marrow and stem cell donation leave; domestic and sexual violence leave; jury duty leave; and voting leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Hawaii prohibits smoking in the workplace and texting while driving. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Hawaii employers must comply with applicable final pay and mass layoff notification requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Hawaii

Hawaii has laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including broader antidiscrimination protections, a higher minimum wage, temporary disability insurance and broader mass layoff notification requirements, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as occupational safety.

Select Hawaii employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Hawaii requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Fair Employment Practices

The Hawaii Fair Employment Practices Act applies to all employers and prohibits discrimination based on a number of protected characteristics, including:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • National origin;
  • Ancestry;
  • Religion;
  • Sex (including gender identity and expression);
  • Pregnancy (including childbirth, breastfeeding and related medical conditions);
  • Disability (mental and physical) and genetic information;
  • Age;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Status as a domestic or sexual violence victim;
  • Arrest and court record; and
  • Marital status.

Harassment is a form of illegal discrimination.

The law also prohibits retaliation against a person who:

  • Files a complaint of discrimination or harassment; or
  • Participates in an EEO investigation.

Whistleblower Protections

Under the Whistleblowers' Protection Act, an employer may not terminate or otherwise discriminate against an employee who reports, or is about to report, violations or suspected violations of the law to the employer or to a government agency.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Hawaii can be found in the Hawaii Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Hawaii, EEO - Discrimination: Hawaii, EEO - Harassment: Hawaii, EEO - Retaliation: Hawaii, Employee Communications: Hawaii, Hawaii Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Hawaii? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Key Hawaii requirements impacting recruiting and hiring are:

Credit Checks

In Hawaii, credit checks may only be performed for certain types of jobs and can only be done post-offer. An employer may consider an applicant's credit history under certain circumstances, including:

  • The information directly relates to a bona fide occupational qualification;
  • Federal or state law expressly permits or requires an employer to take the information into consideration for employment purposes; or
  • The employer is a federally insured financial institution.

Criminal Checks

Hawaii prohibits employers from making any employment decisions based on an employee's arrest and court record. Convictions may be taken into consideration, post-offer, but only if the conviction:

  • Occurred within the last 10 years, excluding periods of incarceration; and
  • Bears a rational relationship to the duties and responsibilities of the position in question.

Ban the Box

Hawaii prohibits an employer from inquiring about arrest or conviction records in employment applications.

Drug Testing

Employers that are not subject to federal regulations must comply with Hawaii's substance abuse testing law. This law requires employers to:

  • Use only licensed laboratories for testing;
  • Pay for all testing costs;
  • Provide individuals to be tested with a written statement of the specific substances to be tested for, among other information; and
  • Keep any information concerning a substance abuse test strictly confidential.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Hawaii can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Hawaii and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Hawaii? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Hawaii requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

Hawaii's minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage. Currently, the state minimum wage is $10.10 per hour, with certain exceptions.

Overtime

Hawaii law generally requires an employer to pay covered employees overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the regular rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek.

Hawaii uses different formulas for determining an employee's regular rate, which take into consideration: the frequency of the payment (weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly or monthly); whether the cost of room, board and other furnishings is included in the employee's pay; and whether the employee is employed in the agriculture industry.

The formula for calculating overtime pay differs depending on whether the employee earns less than $2,000 per month or at least $2,000 per month.

Breastfeeding Breaks

Under Hawaii law, an employer must provide employees reasonable break time each time they need to express breast milk for a nursing child for up to one year after the child's birth. An employer must also providea private space (other than a restroom stall) and inform employees about the law's protections.

An employer with fewer than 20 employees may be excused from these requirements if it can show that the law would impose an undue hardship.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Hawaii restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

Under Hawaii law, all minors are prohibited from working in hazardous occupations or in any occupation connected with adult entertainment. In addition, minors who are under 16 years of age are prohibited from working in a variety of other occupations, such as manufacturing or processing operations, and certain agricultural, retail and food service occupations.

Child labor laws also list many occupations in which minors are actively permitted to engage, such as cashiering, selling, modeling, and office and clerical work. Special rules apply to minors working in certain occupations, including:

  • Theatrical employment;
  • Coffee harvesting; and
  • Pineapple harvesting.

Hawaii law has a complex set of requirements that govern the times during which minors may work. These requirements differ depending on the age of the minor, with separate working time restrictions set out for 16- and 17-year-olds, for 14- and 15-year-olds and for minors under 14 years of age.

Hawaii law requires an employer to provide at least a 30-minute meal or rest break to all 14- or 15-year-old minors who work five consecutive hours.

Minors are required to obtain a certificate of employment or age in order to work.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Hawaii can be found in the Hawaii Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Hawaii, Overtime: Hawaii, Hours Worked: Hawaii, Child Labor: Hawaii, Hawaii Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Hawaii? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal, Hours Worked: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Hawaii requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Temporary Disability Insurance

The Hawaii Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) Law provides up to 26 weeks of partial wage replacement for eligible employees who are unable to work due to a nonwork-related injury or illness, including pregnancy and organ donation.

Health Care Continuation

If an employee is hospitalized or cannot work because of sickness, the employer must continue the employee's health care coverage and pay the employee's premiums for three months following the month in which the disability began, or for as long as the employee receives regular wages, whichever is longer.

Payment of Wages

An employer must pay employees either in cash or by checks that may be cashed on demand at full face value. Wages may be paid by direct deposit or payroll debit cards under certain circumstances.

Pay Statements

Each payday, an employer in Hawaii is required to provide employees with a written record of certain pay-related information, including:

  • Total hours worked;
  • Pay rate(s) and basis of pay;
  • Total gross compensation
  • Any other compensation paid to the employee;
  • Itemized deductions; and
  • Net earnings.

Pay Frequency

Hawaii law requires an employer to pay all employee wages at least semimonthly on paydays designated in advance. Monthly paydays are allowed under certain circumstances. Paydays must occur no more than seven days after the end of each payroll period. However, an employer may pay up to 15 days after the end of each payroll period with permission from the state.

Wage Deductions

Hawaii law prohibits an employer from making any deductions from an employee's pay unless the deduction is:

  • Required by law or court order;
  • For union dues or uniforms; or
  • Authorized in writing by the employee.

Regardless of employee consent, an employer may not make deductions for certain fines, losses and cash shortages.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Hawaii can be found in Insurance and Disability Benefits: Hawaii, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Hawaii, Payment of Wages: Hawaii, Hawaii Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Hawaii? Federal requirements can be found in Insurance and Disability Benefits: Federal, Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal and Payment of Wages: Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Key Hawaii requirements impacting time off and leaves of absence are:

Family and Medical Leave

The Hawaii Family Leave Law (HFLL) requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide eligible employees with up to four weeks of job-protected leave calendar year for qualifying reasons, including:

  • The birth or adoption of a child; or
  • To care for a covered family member with a serious health condition.

Other Time Off Requirements Affecting Hawaii Employers

In addition to the HFLL, a Hawaii employer is also required to comply with other leave and time off laws, such as:

  • Pregnancy disability leave;
  • Organ, bone marrow and stem cell donation leave (covering employers with 50 or more employees);
  • Domestic and sexual violence leave;
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Voting leave; and
  • Military leave.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on time off and leave of absence practices in Hawaii can be found in the Hawaii Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Hawaii, Jury Duty: Hawaii, Other Leaves: Hawaii, USERRA: Hawaii, Hawaii Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Hawaii? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal, Jury Duty: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Hawaii requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoke-Free Workplace

Smoking (including e-cigarette use) is prohibited in all places of employment and within 20 feet from the entrances, exits, windows and ventilation intakes of buildings. Signs stating "Smoking Prohibited by Law" or displaying the international No Smoking symbol must be posted at every entrance.

Safe Driving Practices

Hawaii prohibits texting while driving.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Hawaii can be found in the Hawaii Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Employee Health: Hawaii, HR and Workplace Safety: Hawaii, Hawaii Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Hawaii? Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal and HR and Workplace Safety (OSHA Compliance): Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Hawaii requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

An employee who is terminated generally must be paid all wages earned at the time of termination.

An employee who voluntarily resigns, is laid off or is suspended as a result of a labor disputegenerally must be paid by the next regular pay day.If an employee gives at least one pay period's advance notice of resignation, all wages earned must be paid on the last day of work.

Mass Layoff Notifications

Employers with 50 or more employees must comply with the Dislocated Workers Act if they plan any facility closing, partial facility closing, facility relocation to a place outside of Hawaii or divestiture, regardless of the number of employees to be laid off.

The Dislocated Workers Act requires covered employers to comply with certain obligations in addition to their obligations under the federal WARN Act, including:

  • Providing each employee and the state with 60 days' advance written notice of a closing, partial closing, relocation or divestiture; and
  • Paying a dislocated worker's allowance for four weeks to each affected employee found eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.

An employer wishing to give fewer than 60 days' notice may provide pay in lieu of notice (i.e., one day's pay for each day notice is not given).

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Hawaii can be found in Payment of Wages: Hawaii, Involuntary Terminations: Hawaii, Hawaii Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Hawaii? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Involuntary Terminations: Federal.