The beginning of the new year often brings fresh resolve, brightened attitudes, and a renewed sense of hope for the coming year.  Savvy employers harness those emotions in their workforce and engage their employees to reach new goals and achievements.  But behind the scenes, employers also need to be aware of new laws and regulations that must be implemented to keep things on track.

One of the best ways to capture critical updates is to conduct an annual review of your company handbook and employment practices.  Many states and localities have adopted regulations that require certain procedures and information be included in a company handbook.  Employers should review those updates for each location where employees work, paying special attention to the following:

  • Minimum Wage: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington have all implemented an increase of the minimum wage for 2018.
  • Ban the Box: California and other states have also prohibited questions regarding an applicant’s criminal history from being included on an application for employment.  While employers may still check an applicant’s or employee’s criminal background, these laws specify when it may be done and what may be considered.
  • Equal Pay and Salary History: Joining Massachusetts, Delaware, California and other states and some cities (Philadelphia, for one) have recently enacted various statutes to prohibit questions regarding an applicant’s salary history on an employment application.  While confirmation of prior salary may be done in certain circumstances, basing an employee’s salary on prior compensation is generally prohibited by these laws.  Recruiting managers and their teams need to be trained to avoid such inquiries unless and until the point in the process where they may lawfully ask about prior salary.
  • Anti-Harassment Policies and Training: Ensure that your non-harassment policy is compliant with applicable federal, state and local laws by including at least two methods to report complaints and checking to be sure that your policy covers all forms of potential harassment and discrimination against protected classes.  Employers should also check their training records to be sure that trainings are being conducted with appropriate frequency and that all required persons have timely completed them.
  • Update Labor Law Postings: Many of the new laws enacted for 2018 require updated labor law postings.  California and New York both have new poster requirements, as do cities including New York City and San Francisco.  Employers should consult with counsel regarding these new requirements and be sure that their postings are up to date.  A government agency conducting an on-site inspection of a workplace will look for updated posters, and out-of-date posters can lead to fines under some laws, or at least signal that an employer does not focus on compliant employment practices.
  • New Mileage Rate: As of January 1, 2018, the IRS mileage reimbursement rate for the use of a car for business travel has been raised to 54.5 cents per mile.

With up-to-date policies and practices in place, employers can focus on building great teams and achieving business success in the new year.

California companies with five or more employees are subject to new legislation that prohibits criminal background screenings prior to a conditional offer of employment.  This legislation also prohibits requesting information about criminal history on an application or at a preliminary point in the hiring process.  Affected employers should carefully review the law’s requirements as set out in this advisory from attorneys from Troutman Sanders’ Labor & Employment and Financial Services Litigation Sections.

Read “California’s Statewide “Ban-The-Box” Law To Go Into Effect January 2018” here.

Beginning on March 1, 2017, California employers and businesses will need to re-label any single-stall restroom facilities as available to users of either gender.  Such facilities are required to be identified as “all gender” and be universally accessible. Continue Reading Single-User Restrooms Must Be Made Available To All in California

Out with the old and in with the new?  Not so fast.  For California employers, it’s more like keep the old and add the new.  And, as so often happens, the new year brings new concerns.  While this list is not exhaustive, California employers should keep their sights on the following new state and local regulations or requirements for 2017: Continue Reading Catch the Wave: New California Employment Regulations and Requirements for 2017

As we near the end of this election season, employers should be ready for requests from employees for time off to vote. Polling places are expected to be crowded and employers in many states must accommodate their employees’ right to vote if an employee’s work schedule prevents that person from going to the polls.  (Even in states where it is not legally mandated, considering this election year, and the general feelings around fundamental right to vote, all employers should strongly consider a plan to enable employees to vote if at all possible.) Continue Reading California Employees Can Be Entitled To Paid Time Off For Voting

As discussed in Part I (posted earlier this week), a number of states and local municipalities have enacted paid sick leave legislation mandating paid time away from work for employees. While some of these laws are already in effect, others are coming soon.  Employers with operations in the following areas should revisit their policies and make adjustments as needed to plan for these upcoming changes: Continue Reading New Paid Sick Leave Laws Compel Employers to React — and Prepare (Part II)

A number of states and local municipalities have recently enacted paid sick leave legislation mandating paid time away from work for employees. Unfortunately for employers, many of these laws contain provisions that conflict with already-enacted paid sick legislation and require an adjustment of current policies, leading to confusion about requirements and entitlements.

Employers with operations in the following areas should revisit their policies and make adjustments as needed to remain current or to plan for upcoming changes: Continue Reading New Paid Sick Leave Laws Compel Employers to React — and Prepare (Part I)

Many employers today have implemented arbitration programs mandating that workplace-related disputes brought by or against their employees be decided by an arbitrator. Arbitration can provide for efficient resolution of disputes in a confidential setting.  It is also possible through the use of a carefully worded agreement to limit disputes to just one employee’s claims and prevent an employee from bringing claims on behalf of others in a class action. Continue Reading Employers Cannot Delay In Seeking Arbitration of Employment Disputes

Many employers have policies and procedures that mandate drug and alcohol testing in the wake of a workplace accident, regardless of whether there is any suspicion that the employee involved was impaired. However, effective August 10, 2016, OSHA’s final rules on electronic reporting of workplace injuries require employers to implement “a reasonable procedure” for employees to report workplace injuries and that procedure cannot deter or discourage employees from reporting a workplace injury.  Though the text of the final rule (29 CFR § 1904.35(b)(1)(i)) does not specifically address mandatory post-accident drug and alcohol testing, OSHA’s May 12, 2016 commentary accompanying the final rules specifies that the agency views mandatory post-accident testing as deterring the reporting of workplace safety incidents and employers who continue to operate under such policies will face penalties and enforcement scrutiny. Continue Reading New OSHA Accident Reporting Rules Rule Out Mandatory Post-Accident Drug Screening

On April 1, 2016, new regulations from California’s Fair Employment and Housing Council will go in effect. These new regulations state that “[e]mployers have an affirmative duty to create a workplace environment that is free from employment practices prohibited by the Act,” and require changes in employment policies. As a result, employers should carefully review their existing policies to ensure compliance with these new standards and act quickly to make any needed changes before April 1. Continue Reading HR’s Work Is Never Done: New California FEHA Regulations Require Revision of Anti-Harassment Policies