Labor Laws Coming Your Way

March 4, 2020 | 927 views

Labor Laws Coming Your Way
Labor Laws Coming Your Way

Wage and labor laws can be so confusing. Here you are, trying to provide exceptional service and products, and you are required to specialize in HR law too. Sometimes, there is great value in having other specialists manage these things for you. But even if you have an HR manager or PEO to accommodate changes, you must have an operational understanding of how trends in wage and labor law could impact your business.

National Changes

At the federal level, there were few legal changes. The most significant shift requires overtime for more employees. The minimum salary level for exemption from overtime was raised from $455 per week to $684 per week ($35,568 per year). This level could very well impact your business, depending on where you do business. Since many states already have aggressive overtime rules for employees, it might not matter much to your organization.

State Trends

While national employment movements were not a priority for the federal legislature, several state’s labor laws have changed. Even if these law changes have not occurred yet in your area, these are employment trends to watch because they are likely to spread to other states.

  1. It’s ok for employees to smoke weed. At least in Nevada. Because recreational and medical marijuana is legal there, a pre-employment drug test that comes back positive for THC is not grounds for refusal to hire a candidate. Certain jobs are exempt if their work could put others at risk—drivers and emergency personnel, for example. And don’t think it’s just Sin City. New York City, Maine and other locations have added this protection for job seekers.
  2. Independent contractors will be reclassified as employees. In California, independent contractors who meet certain compensation and management rules must be considered employees and offered health benefits and paid time off. This was intended to protect gig workers from, but it is a costly change for employers and will result in many layoffs in certain industries where contract workers are commonly used. It might be a good idea to review your employee status and be prepared for likely upcoming changes.
  3. Businesses must accommodate pregnancy and parental needs. Just like paternity leave is expanding in many areas. Oregon businesses with several employees must now accommodate pregnant workers, if needed, with sitting options or other comfort and health-related needs during pregnancy. After birth, a mother in California who is nursing must have a private place to sit and pump, an electrical outlet to use, and a refrigerator to store milk.
  4. Talking salary history is forbidden in interviews. Discussing previous salary levels, wages, and benefits is now banned in New Jersey interviews. Designed to promote fair offers based on the job, this new law is meant to equalize pay levels for a given position.
  5. Paid family leave is becoming commonplace. Allowable reasons for family and medical leave are continually expanding. This year, Washington state, the District of Columbia, and Massachusetts are all implementing extended paid leave to qualified employees.

I know some of you are rolling your eyes at these law variations often in states known for being liberal with worker rights, but don’t ignore the direction and possible effect on your own business. Wage and labor rules demand a great deal of time and money from any organization. You, too, may soon have to integrate similar changes where you live and work.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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