Each day, news outlets reveal yet another story about a new law that affects hiring, employee management, or HR in general. Whether it’s merely a debate, a formal proposal, or the passage of actual legislation, it can be hard to keep track of it all. Every potential change means an organization must review and understand what it means for their unique business, and that can feel like trying to decipher an entirely foreign language. Let’s take a look at the latest employment law changes and how they might affect your company.
Passed at the end of 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act makes 2018 a confusing one for businesses nationwide. While it promises to cut taxes for many, it’s not a viable business strategy to simply assume the best and more forward thinking there will be more zeroes on the end of this year’s profit margin. Tax law is complicated, and each organization must take stock of the changes to determine exactly how their individual business will be affected.
Notably, this bill changes the taxability of many popular perks that employers enjoy, in many cases eliminating deductions for them. Affected benefits include those related to commuting, paid leave credits, retirement plans, 529 education savings plans, moving expenses, onsite gyms, meals, achievement awards, and more. While some changes are immediate and others will take effect in the future, it’s still necessary to evaluate offerings as soon as possible and form a plan before employees inquire about the benefits they’re afraid of losing.
In an effort to even the playing field and stop a previously low salary from stunting a professional’s career growth, several states and cities have passed laws that prohibit asking candidates for their salary history. In Illinois this initiative has not yet become law, but the fact that it has been discussed by state lawmakers multiple times gives an indication of what’s to come.
It’s only a matter of time before this law spreads further across the country. Organizations that are proactive and prepare for the likelihood of a salary history question ban in their area are the ones that can get ahead of the competition and ensure the least disruption to their hiring. Consider removing salary questions from all forms and applications as soon as possible, and train everyone who interacts with candidates during the interview process. Follow the lead of Amazon and Google, who have decided to stop asking about salary history altogether, even in the locations where it’s not yet law.
There’s no doubt that there’s a stronger focus on harassment in America than ever before, but that isn’t limited to Hollywood or the film industry. CNN reports that the United States has reached a sexual harassment tipping point, where victims are more empowered to come forward. This rise in harassment accusations has spurred businesses to review and revise their own policies and reevaluate their training procedures.
When one out of every five American adults have experienced sexual harassment at work, it’s likely that companies will see more and more of these claims, especially if no action is taken. It’s time for every organization to take a hard look at what behaviors create an environment where harassment is prevalent and correct them immediately. This is best accomplished by implementing new training initiatives that are proven to reduce risk and liability and create a positive and healthy culture.
Beginning on January 1st, the Department of Transportation is now requiring certain employers to test for opioid drug use. While many organizations are not directly affected by this law, a great number are still voluntarily drug testing candidates for illegal prescription drug abuse. Sadly, illicit drug use among American workers is the highest it has been since 2004. While there’s certainly a cost associated with drug tests that are either difficult to ask a candidate to pay or can become a burden to smaller organizations, it’s worth it. Hiring even one person who abuses drugs presents many liability issues that are best avoided. As drug use statistics continue to climb, each company will need to review their drug policies and at least consider the need for more stringent measures.
The above topics only cover a portion of the employment law changes in motion, and yet those alone can be overwhelming for most companies to address on their own. With so many moving parts and so much at stake, employment law is not an area where a business can cut corners and take a reactionary stance. Success in the face of change depends on being proactive. Partnering with a PEO like Synergy can take employment law concerns off your plate, and is a cost-effective solution for maintaining a healthy and productive workforce.