Top 10 Hawaii HR Law Questions - What Hawaii Employers Need to Know but Probably Don’t

May 18, 2018 Written by Oralie Chapman

On top of federal and municipal regulations, each state has its own HR laws that employers must comply with to run a business and employ workers. Hawaii is mostly seen as an employee-friendly state and it is important for Hawaiian business owners to understand the particular laws that will affect their employer-employee relationships.


Like most small business owners, you opened your business to provide a product or service and you are too busy running your business to read the thousands of HR rules specific to Hawaii. While the Employment Law Handbook for Hawaii is a useful resource, it can be overwhelming to read through all the information to get to what you need. Hawaii’s Employment Practices Act has a list of protected classes of people along with other laws aimed at protecting employees. 

Top 10 Hawaii HR Questions

What classes of people are protected from discrimination under Hawaii’s Employment Practices Act?

In Hawaii a potential employee may not be discriminated against or harassed for many reasons including their race or national origin, their religion, the color of their skin, their pregnancy status or gender (including gender identity), disability, age, sexual orientation or marital status. Under the act, Hawaiian employers must also provide reasonable accommodations for certain protected classifications including pregnancy, disability and victims of domestic violence.


What do I need to know about Hawaii’s whistleblower laws?

Hawaii’s Employment Practices Act prohibits retaliation against an employee who files a complaint of discrimination or harassment or who provides information for an EEO investigation. Hawaiian employers may not fire / threaten to fire or otherwise discriminate against an employee who is planning to report / has reported an employer’s violation of HR law.


Do Hawaii’s HR laws guarantee equal pay?

Yes. Hawaii’s Employment Practices Act includes an equal pay provision that prevents wage discrimination based on gender.


Are credit checks allowed when hiring new employees in Hawaii?

Under Hawaii law, credit checks may only be performed by certain types of businesses for certain types of jobs. In addition, the information provided by a credit check must be directly related to a relevant job qualification and can only be done once a job offer has been made. 


Can a Hawaiian employer ask about criminal records when hiring a new employee?

Hawaii’s "Ban the Box law" means that Hawaiian employers are not legally allowed to ask about arrest or conviction records in employment applications or preliminary interviews. While arrests may not be used a reason not to hire someone, convictions may be taken into consideration after a job offer has been made if the conviction happened in the last 10 years (not counting periods of incarceration) and the conviction is relevant to the duties and responsibilities of the position the potential employee is seeking with the business. 


What types of tests may be given to screen potential employees?

  • Under Hawaii’s Substance Abuse Testing Act, drug and alcohol testing may only be performed at specified laboratories and results must be kept confidential. Potential employees must be provided with a list of all substances that will be tested and may not bear any of the expense of the test.
  • AIDS testing is not allowed under Hawaii’s employment laws.
  • Polygraph testing is not allowed as a pre-requisite for a person seeking a job with a Hawaiian company.


Are meal and rest breaks required by law in Hawaii?

Neither federal nor Hawaii wage and hour laws require employers to provide meal or rest breaks. However, if employees are given shorter breaks throughout the work day employers are required to pay for those breaks.


What is Hawaii’s minimum wage?

Hawaii's minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage; it is currently set at $10.10 per hour, with some exceptions. 


How is overtime calculated in Hawaii?

Hawaii's overtime law requires employer to pay each employee overtime in the amount of 1.5 times the employee's regular rate for hours worked in surplus of 40 in a workweek. Hawaii laws do not mandate overtime pay for hours worked outside of an eight hour work day or on weekends or holidays.


Is Hawaii an at-will employment state?

Hawaii is an at-will employment state which means that an employee who does not have a contract can be fired at any time for any reason or no reason at all, as long as the real reason for the firing does not violate some other state or federal law.


Partnering with Makai HR

Not excited about employer laws? That’s okay; we’ve got you covered through HR outsourcing! When you partner with Makai HR you can get on with the business you are trying to grow while we take care of your employee needs from payroll to taxes, health insurance/benefits and worker’s compensation. You also gain peace of mind that you are in compliance with all of Hawaii’s employer laws (if you’ve ever looked you know that the list is very long). When choosing a PEO to partner with, there are many things to consider including cost, services and technology solutions. 


With the cost of doing business in Hawaii at record highs, we know how important it is to keep labor costs in line with revenue. Our plans are priced competitively and include value-added services like time-in/time-out systems. Our three tiers of PEO service plans are tailored to the size of your business and specific needs. We offer a 100% paperless solution which means that your employees can manage their needs through a computer, tablet or phone. We can truly improve your employees work benefits while freeing you up to run your business.


What are you waiting for? Companies who partner with a PEO benefit from 7-9% faster growth, 10-14% lower employee turnover; and they are 50% less likely to go out of business. Contact us today to get started!