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As 2019 nears its end and the beginning of a new decade is about to be ushered in, there are a number of HR and compliance issues that employers need to aware of and plan for.
While there are plenty of moving parts in the HR and benefits landscape, in this post we’ll highlight some of the newer compliance issues that need to be on the radar of most HR departments as we roll into 2020.
Paycheck Fairness Act
All indicators point to the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would add procedural protections to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Fair Labor Standards Act, to pass in legislation and become law. The essential components of the law are designed to address the gender pay gap and create equal pay opportunities for everyone. One of the biggest changes employers will need to be conscience of if and when the law passes, is that it will prohibit employers from using salary history. So instead of asking a job candidate how much they made at their previous jobs, employers will simply only be able to ask what the candidate’s salary requirements are. Another key effort the bill is trying to accomplish is to protect employees against retaliation from discussing compensation with their colleagues. The hope here is that greater transparency about salaries will allow for unequal pay disparities to come to light and be addressed accordingly. If the law passes, employers will not be able to fire or penalize employees who discuss salary in the workplace.
For a few years now, how employers handle drug testing as it pertains to marijuana has been a sticky subject, no pun intended. Currently there are 33 states that have some sort of broad legalization of marijuana use for medicinal purposes, and of those 33 states, 11 of them have legalized it for recreational use as well. Some experts have even made predictions that medicinal use, or even recreational use of marijuana will be legalized on a federal level within the next 5 years. What this mean for employers is that it has become something that can no longer be avoided or talked about. The issue with employers testing for marijuana is that unlike other drugs or alcohol that would require the participant to be under the influence at the time of the test to fail the drug test, marijuana can stay in your system for 30 days. Due to the increasing public acceptance of marijuana use, along with the irregularity of drug tests to determine when and how often employees actually use marijuana, there has been a shift of employers who have made the decision to not even bother with it anymore. Of course, not all jobs or industries are the same, for example workers who operate heavy machinery, but moving into the new decade employers are going to have to start making a conscience decision on how they plan on addressing marijuana use during the hiring process and for their active employees.
Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements
In 2018 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that employers can require employees to arbitrate disputes with the employer individually and waive their right to pursue or participate in class or collective actions against their employer. Ever since the court ruled that employers can require employees to sign a waiver of class action lawsuits, it’s becoming something of commonplace for most employers. If you were to ask your company attorney why your company should start having employees sign an arbitration agreement, there’s likely to be some tone along the lines of “Why not? You don’t want to be the only company around who isn’t doing it.”
LGBT Employment Protection
The US Supreme Court has agreed to take on three cases that will take on the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 to determine whether gay and transgender people are covered by the federal law barring employment discrimination on the basis of sex. The court's ruling on these three cases isn’t expected until next year, but it essentially will rule on the question of, if someone goes through transgender, where does the employee fall on gender; and whether or not sexual orientation is a protected civil right. By all indications the justices are pretty equally divided on the subject and there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut estimate of which way the ruling is leaning. Nevertheless, company leaders, now more so than ever, need to communicate how they plan construct their corporate policy and practices when it comes to LGBT employees regardless of the which way the court rules.
My COBRA Help knows what to expect in the next upcoming decade when it comes to HR and compliance regulations. Let our HR administration experts help get your business prepared for what's to come and proactively abide by these upcoming new rules or laws. Give our team a call today to setup an appointment before the end of the year!