New Year | New Employment Laws

With the new year comes new employment laws. While the Trump administration hasn't demonstrated an eagerness to add to current employment laws and regulations, several states and cities have done so. 


Over 22 states have new employment laws going into effect in 2018. It can be difficult for employers to keep up with them all, but here are some of the top emerging trends:

Prohibition on Asking Salary History

In an effort to close the gender income gap, laws are being put in place to restrict an employer's ability to ask a candidate how much they made in the past; employers may only ask what the candidate's current salary expectations are. This has implications for applications, job postings, interview questions, and much more. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Puerto Rico, and Philadelphia are among the locations with this restriction.

Predictive Scheduling Mandates

California, Oregon, Seattle, and NYC have enacted laws to reduce the variability of employee work schedules, as well as other scheduling standards. Among other requirements, these laws often mandate notification periods before changes can be made in employees' work schedules and will limit employer flexibility. In addition to restricting scheduling changes, some of these laws require that current employees be given all available shifts before new employees can be hired. The retail, restaurant and hospitality, and healthcare industries will be among those most affected by this trend. At least 13 other states and cities are considering similar laws.

Minimum Wage Increases

16 states have increased their minimum wage in 2018, with many setting automatic increases over the course of several years. There's a drive towards achieving a $15/ hour minimum wage in several states and cities. The federal minimum wage is $7.25. Since there's no urgency to raise the federal minimum wage, cities and states are doing it on their own. Some employers with minimum wage employees are increasing their investment in technology to lower payroll expenses. For instance, Walmart and Krogers have both announced tests aimed at eliminating cashiers, and many in the fast food industry are considering touch-screen ordering and other automations.

"Ban the Box" Laws and/or Background Check Restrictions

More and more cities and states are enacting "Ban the Box" laws, also referred to as "fair chance" laws. These laws require certain employers (based on whether public or private and number of employees) to eliminate the question that is on most job applications that asks candidates if they have ever been convicted of a crime. Many laws go even farther and prohibit background checks from being performed before a job offer is made and even dictate when and how employers can inform applicants regarding their background check procedures. If a criminal conviction is discovered, the offer can only be withdrawn if the crime is directly related to the job. Over 29 states and more than 150 cities and counties nationwide have some variation of these so-called "fair chance" laws in place. Employers must ensure they understand the laws that apply to them in each jurisdiction where they hire employees and ensure that their applications, and other hiring processes such as interview questions and background check procedures comply.

Time Off Laws

Many cities and states are enacting laws that require employers to provide employees with time off for certain life events, including parental leave, sick time, time off due to domestic violence, and more. In addition to requiring that employees be given varying amounts of time off for these events, many locations are requiring that employees be paid all or part of their wages while on leave. Nearly every state has some time off requirements, with many cities and counties nationwide having enacted their own, even more encompassing, laws. Employers need to stay current on these laws and may even have to contend with cities and counties having different requirements within the same state.

Guidance for Employers

As employment laws and regulations become increasing local, employers must become more attentive to the changes that may impact them. Gone are the days of "set and forget about" as it relates to company employment policies. Employers must keep pace with the rate of change, particularly if they have a presence in multiple jurisdictions. Best practices include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Review and update the company's employee handbook at least once a year (or more) to keep it current on new laws and regulations;
  • Redistribute the employee handbook to all employees annually, highlighting changes and requiring acknowledgement of receipt;
  • Sign up to receive employment related updates from a respected source;
  • Train supervisors and hiring managers on the current legally acceptable practices in hiring and in handling other employment issues;
  • Update electronic and paper forms to reflect the current requirements;
    and
  • Follow all required record retention policies.

Excelerator Consulting specializes in helping employers stay compliant. Ask us how we can help.

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