A new year always brings new headaches for HR professionals. So far, 2019 has been off to a running start with a government shutdown, the early start of the next presidential campaign and talks of major immigration reform. Here is the list of issues that should be on the radar for every company’s HR department this year.
- Overtime Regulations: The Obama era changes to the overtime regulations were stopped, but the new and improved version under the Trump administration is expected to arrive in early 2019. Like before, the regulations will likely have an increase in the salary threshold for exempt employees.
- ADA Accommodations: The world of reasonable accommodation has never been more complex. Be prepared for requests for emotional support animals, flexible schedules, and remote work options.
- Medical Marijuana: The legislative trend towards legalizing marijuana is picking up steam. If you are not in a state with legalized marijuana, you are probably near one. Employers face new challenges in drug testing and addressing requests for accommodation from medical users.
- #MeToo Fallout: The #MeToo trend and the Kavanaugh hearings are over– but not gone. The effects are here to stay, and employers will be dealing with increased sexual harassment claims for years to come.
- Pay Equity: One of the tangible impacts of the #MeToo movement was an increased focus on gender pay equity. Look for more states and cities (and possible the new Congress) to enact legislation in this area, including already popular bans on seeking salary history from applicants.
- Off the Clock Suits: The wage and hour class action is slowing down, but is still a significant threat. With changing workforce practices, employers must stay vigilant that non-exempt employees record all of their working time, and supervisors are trained not to allow compensable work before or after shifts.
- Immigration Reform: It looks like we may see comprehensive immigration reform in 2019. That will likely mean changes to the I-9 process and possibly mandatory E-Verify. Stay tuned.
- Social Media: Employers are increasingly expected to act as the Facebook and Twitter police. With cyber-bullying and textual harassment moving into the workplace, employers will continue to face tough decisions on when and how to terminate employees for something said on social media without running afoul of the law.
- Paid Sick Leave: States and cities continue to pass laws requiring different levels of paid sick leave, which is creating a nightmare for multi-state employers looking for consistent policies. SHRM continues to lobby for a federal solution, and this trend will continue through the next presidential campaign.
- Intermittent FMLA: Employers are increasingly facing abuse of FMLA policies by employees claiming to need intermittent leave for headaches, sore backs, and other lingering conditions that can turn into a permanent license to be absent at will. Employers are pushing back through aggressive policies and enforcement, which will likely lead to increases in litigation and (hopefully) more guidance from the Department of Labor and courts.
It’s important to keep these issues in mind throughout the year. As an employer, you should consider the challenges that these issues could present and plan accordingly. We’ll continue to update you with the latest news and developments related to numerous HR concerns. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions.