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4 HR laws employers can’t afford to overlook in 2016

This year has just begun, but new HR regulations already have been proposed, signed into law and put into effect — and even more are on the way. Failing to keep up with new workplace laws is not an option, given the potential for steep penalties and expensive lawsuits.

With that in mind, here is a quick rundown of five of the most recent HR laws to keep your business running smoothly.

1. Affordable Care Act compliance

2016 is the first year of ACA reporting, and companies of all sizes need to be ready. Small and medium-sized companies will need to file more paperwork and better document their coverage options to stay compliant. Although many employers may hope the Department of Labor will be more lenient this year, it’s unlikely that this will be the case. After all, employers have had two years to prepare, plus added delay time.

While medium-sized businesses need to prepare to file more paperwork, smaller businesses need to be ready to offer health insurance coverage this year. In 2016, companies with 50 to 99 full-time equivalent employees are required to provide health insurance — or pay a fine.

2. Overtime pay

Your employees may be exempt from overtime pay now, but that may change by the summer when the DOL is expected to reveal new rules. The proposed HR laws would raise the minimum salary for overtime exemption from $23,660 to $50,440, regardless of their duties.

Startups and smaller companies that require employees to wear multiple hats and work long hours need to review how they classify their workers. Are your workers hourly, salaried or independent contractors? As flexible work arrangements become more common, employers need to closely review requirements to classify their workers correctly and avoid costly lawsuits.

3. Paid leave

New Jersey, California and Rhode Island are the only states with paid family and medical leave laws currently, but employers are changing their policies and additional states are looking to update their HR laws.

In fact, more than a dozen states have at least one proposed bill regarding leave from work, and these bills cover everything from how much leave employees receive to what reasons qualify for paid leave.

4. Equal pay

The pay gap between genders isn’t a new issue, but new HR laws may take a stronger stance on it this year. President Obama recently proposed new Equal EO-1 rules in which companies with 100 plus employees would be required to note pay data in mandatory reports, making potential discrimination more visible.

Although requirements and penalties will vary by state, employers who aren’t prepared to meet stricter standards when it comes to documenting and justifying pay structure and raises will leave themselves open to potential lawsuits.

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