You always need to be up on the latest labor laws to stay compliant and make sure you’re meeting your obligations to employees. And with 2019 underway, you’re probably (hopefully) already following any new laws in your area.
But what about the rest of the country? Are there new labor laws that could be coming your way next year? Where are the trends heading?
Following labor laws isn’t just about reacting to new rules as they come onto the books. You need to know what laws might be coming soon so you can strategize in advance about what they mean for your business and how you’ll adapt, rather than try and scramble to follow them once they’ve already passed. That means you need to stay up on the trends. In this post, we’re going to tell you about four new labor laws from around the country that could spread far and wide in 2019 and beyond.
Minimum wage increases around the country
While the federal minimum wage has stayed put at $7.25 since 2009, 19 states (plus DC) opted to raise their own minimum wage in 2019:
|State||2018 minimum wage||2019 minimum wage|
|District of Columbia||$13.25||$14.00|
In addition, several cities and towns raised their minimum wage this year as well. None of this should come as a surprise — the minimum wage has become a hot button political issue, as the rise of movements like the Fight for $15 illustrates. Whether or not your area has a higher minimum wage this year, you should start thinking now about how a potential 2020 raise would impact your bottom line, and what steps you might take to save on labor costs should one occur.
Predictive scheduling laws
A business’ scheduling policies are crucial to employees’ well-being, especially those balancing their job with family care, medical issues, or school obligations. Practices like on-call scheduling, last-minute shift changes, and lack of advance notice make it difficult for employees to manage their finances or plan their personal lives, since they don’t know when or how often they’ll be working. That’s probably why 83% of surveyed hourly workers say more control over their schedule would make them more likely to stick with their current job.
It’s also why more and more states are implementing laws regulating how businesses schedule their staff. Oregon is the latest, as its new predictive scheduling law came into full effect this year. The law applies to retail, hospitality, and food services companies with 500 or more hourly employees, and mandates that they:
- Give employees a good faith estimate of their expected hours in an average month.
- Maintain a voluntary standby list for employees willing to be on-call to receive extra hours when the business needs additional staff.
- Provide employees’ seven days’ notice for their upcoming work schedules.
Several other cities and states have implemented similar laws recently, so it’s not a stretch to imagine that your area may be next. Take the time now to think about how your business’ operations would need to change to comply with new scheduling laws. Given the impact they have on retention, it could even be worth implementing some of these rules for your company now, even if you’re not required to.
Anti-harassment training mandates
California’s SB 1343 expands on existing legislation to say that starting in 2019, all employers with five or more employees must train staff on sexual harassment prevention. Specifically, the law says that once a year, employers have to provide two hours of training to managers and one to employees on how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Previously, California only required this of companies with 50 or more employees.
This update makes California’s sexual harassment training requirements some of the most stringent in the country — in fact, some states only require such training for state employees, while others don’t require any at all. But given the continued momentum of the #MeToo movement and increased focus on preventing sexual harassment, it seems likely that more localities will soon join the Golden State. Even if yours isn’t currently one of them, you may want to start incorporating sexual harassment prevention into your employee training now to show your staff that you take the issue seriously.
Employee reimbursements law
Last year, Illinois passed the Wage Payment and Collection Act, becoming the ninth jurisdiction in the country to require employers to reimburse staff for expenses they incur on the job. The law went into effect on January 1, 2019, and says that businesses must reimburse staff for expenses under the following criteria:
- The expense is “authorized or required” by the employer as part of the job.
- The employee submits a request for reimbursement and documentation of the expense within 30 days of the transaction.
That might sound simple enough, but more expenses could qualify than employers might expect. California has a nearly identical law on the books, and courts there have ruled that employers can be expensed for, say, portions of an employee’s cell phone bill if the phone is required for work in any way, even if the employer doesn’t directly cause an incremental increase to the phone bill (in the case of, say, an unlimited phone plan). We recommend taking stock now of what new expenses you might be on the hook for and how you’d plan to pay them if such a law came to your area.
Spot the trends before the laws are passed
Even if 2019 didn’t bring any new labor laws to your area, it’s never too early to start preparing for what could be next. By looking around at notable new labor laws coming into effect around the country, you can predict what may be in store for you and start to prepare accordingly.