As an employer, staying compliant is a critical part of maintaining operations. But with continuously changing regulation at the state and local level, there are an increasing amount of risks.
Failing to keep up with these changes can have very expensive consequences. The top 10 settlements in various employment-related class-action cases totaled $1.32 billion in 2018. Similarly, the top 10 government enforcement actions settled for $253 million in 2018.
Here are some of the biggest employment compliance trends this year and what they mean for you.
1. Hiring Authorized Workers
The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 requires all U.S. employers, regardless of size, to complete a Form I-9 upon hiring a new employee to work in the United States.
Recent increased pressure by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for hiring authorized workers, proper I9 and E-Verify form usage and ethical business conduct has created new risks for employers and HR professionals.
To ensure compliance with all ICE standards and procedures, it is important for your organization to choose a staffing partner who is part of the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program.
2. Pay Equality
Pay equity is a means of eliminating sex and race discrimination in the wage-setting system.
Legislation to address pay equity and discrimination continues to see more success in states than at the federal level.
This year alone, laws addressing wage discrimination will take effect in 11 states. Alabama’s first law on the books banning pay discrimination based on race and sex and prohibiting employers from refusing to interview or hire someone who declines to share salary history went live this summer. Maine, Nebraska, New York, and Maryland implemented similar laws before the end of 2019, joining states like California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Wyoming, and Washington that established pay protections earlier last year.
The new state measures often feature a ban on salary history questions in job applications, aimed at ending the perpetuation of lower salaries for women and minorities.
3. Medical and Recreational Marijuana
The regulation of off-duty marijuana use varies greatly from state to state. Some prohibit employers from discriminating against medical marijuana cardholders or from firing employees for testing positive for marijuana due to off-duty use. Others explicitly allow employers to fire employees for off-duty medical marijuana use.
4. Protections for Gig Workers
A new law in the state of California called Assembly Bill 5 or AB5 has drastically altered the way the state’s companies can classify workers.
The new law assumes workers are employees. To demonstrate otherwise, the hiring company has the burden of demonstrating that the worker meets a very specific test.
Namely, a worker can only be classified as an independent contractor if the company can show that the worker meets all three of the following prongs:
A - the worker is free from control and direction in the performance of services; and
B - the worker is performing work outside the usual course of the business of the hiring company; and
C - the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.
Because of this, it will be increasingly difficult to classify workers as contractors. California’s Assembly Bill 5 law took effect January 1, 2020.
5. Ban the Box
“Ban the box” refers to the box on applications requiring applicants to disclose whether they have a prior criminal conviction.
To date, there is no federal ban-the-box law; these are laws being passed by states and cities. Initially, these laws applied to government employers only. However, more states and cities are passing laws that apply to government and private employers alike.
Currently, thirteen states (and the District of Columbia) have ban-the-box laws that apply to private employers—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
Even in states that don’t have ban-the-box laws, a rigid practice of asking about criminal history and denying employment can violate federal antidiscrimination laws.
How SIMOS Can Help
As an experienced engineered workforce solution provider, we make it a priority to stay on top of ever-changing regulation. Partner with an organization that has expert knowledge of the regulatory landscape, and that’s ready to pivot while recommending solutions and policies that meet new regulations.
To learn more about these regulations and other compliance trends, download our free compliance eBook below.
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