Hello 2019! 2018 was a busy year from a regulation change standpoint, so that means a lot of things are different for companies in 2019.
We are seeing more and more that employment laws and regulations are being changed at the state and local levels, more so than at the federal level. Things move a little slower at the federal level, and they don’t seem to be keeping up with the changes in how people work.
This is motivating each state to take things into their own hands, and choose how to regulate employment.The majority of the changes that we are seeing at the state level are related to mandatory harassment training, minimum wage increases, mandatory paid sick time off, and bans on asking for salary history from job candidates.
What that means for small businesses, particularly small businesses with employees in multiple states, is that it is increasingly difficult to keep up with compliance requirements and the administration of specific states and local laws, in comparison to the laws at the federal level. It also makes it more difficult to have uniform, across-the-board policies.
If there is a difference between a state and federal regulation, the company is required to go with the regulation that is in the best interest of the employee.
For example, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 and hasn’t changed in over a decade, but in Florida the minimum wage is $8.46, so companies in Florida must follow the state minimum wage regulation. Here is an overview of just a few changes for 2019. Please either reach out to us at Employers Advantage LLC about the specifics related to your company, or go to your state’s Department of Labor website for updates. This is not an all-inclusive list of 2019 employment regulations.
Connecticut and Hawaii have joined the other handful of locations that make it unlawful for employers to ask job candidates for salary history.
South Carolina has the Pregnancy Accommodations Act that was passed in 2018. This act requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to employees for medical needs arising from pregnancy or childbirth.
New York employers are required to conduct annual sexual harassment training that either meet or exceed the standards of the training set by the state of NY. The first training is required to be completed by October 2019.
Among a variety of other changes for California, they now have stricter regulations around misclassification of employees versus contractors. Similar to NY, CA employers with 5 or more employees are required to provide sexual harassment training to all supervisors and employees. This is significantly different than the previously required training for employers with 50 or more employees.
Over 20 states increased their minimum wage for 2019. They are:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Federal Contractors.
With all of the changes at the state level, particularly minimum wage changes, if you are an employer in any of the states listed above, you are required to have updated Labor Law Posters. Even if you are in a state that didn’t have a minimum wage change, there are other states and local jurisdictions that have updated poster requirements. All employers should review their posters and obtain updated ones for 2019 to ensure compliance.
Outside of mandatory regulation changes, the new year is a good time to re-evaluate your HR policies and practices to make sure that they still make sense, and are still applicable to your company's workforce and culture. To do that, ask yourself "Why?" when looking at your policies and practices. Ask, “Why do we have this policy or practice? Does this help or hinder the workforce and the company?” If you can't come up with a good reason for "why,” eliminate it or change it.
For more guidance on refreshing your company policies and procedures, contact us here.