2019 Virginia Labor Law Update

Law- Mini-COBRA Law: Section 38.2-3541 of the Virginia Code was amended to provide that continuation coverage is not available to individuals whose eligibility for coverage ended because the individual was discharged from employment for “gross misconduct.”  “Gross misconduct” means any conduct that would constitute misconduct under the Commonwealth’s unemployment statute, “including deliberately and willfully engaging in conduct evincing a complete disregard for the employer’s workplace standards and policies.”

How to Prepare: Virginia’s mini-COBRA law applies to employers with less than 20 employees.  For employers with 20 or more employers the mini-COBRA law is preempted by the federal COBRA, and the federal law governs for those employers.

Employers with less than 20 employees should update the COBRA provision in their handbooks, if applicable, and update the COBRA information that is given to employees at the time an employee loses eligibility for coverage.

Employers may want to update their work rules of standards of conduct provision in their handbooks to define “gross misconduct;” however, if the provision provides examples of gross misconduct, the provision should explicitly state that the list is illustrative and not exhaustive.

Law- Civil Air Patrol Leave Law: Section 40.1-28.7:6 of the Virginia Code has been updated to require employers to provide unpaid leave (up to 10 workdays for training and up to 30 workdays for emergency missions) to Civil Air Patrol members.  Employers may not penalize or deny benefits to employees who take Civil Air Patrol leave.  Employers may not require employees to exhaust any other type of leave (i.e. vacation, PTO, personal days) before taking unpaid Civil Air Patrol leave. 

How to Prepare: Employers should advise managers and supervisors of employees’ entitlement to leave under this law, and establish a process for requesting, granting, and tracking this type of leave.

Law- National Guard Leave Law: Section 44-93.2 and Section 44-93.4 of the Virginia Code, which grant employees the right to unpaid, job-protected leave to serve active duty or military duty in the Virginia National Guard, has been expanded to provide the same rights to employees who serve in the National Guard of other states.

How to Prepare: Employers should continue to follow current procedures for granting leave to members of the Virginia National Guard, and be prepared to grant the same rights to members of the National Guards of other states.