By Audra Hedberg, Senior Compliance Consultant, Trüpp.

A lot of new employment regulations went into effect January 1, 2020, or will be going into effect this year. We are seeing more laws being passed at the state level rather than the federal, making it more complex for employers to keep track–especially for those with employees in multiple states.

With the new year upon us, it is a crucial time to consider how these important employment laws and trends impact your organization and make the necessary updates to your employee handbook, company policies, and procedures. Check out these recent trends expected to continue through 2020.

Discrimination and Harassment

Preventing harassment and discrimination should always be front of mind for employers. Several states are strengthening employee protections against discrimination and harassment. Oregon and Illinois, for example, are following other states such as New York by implementing laws to increase protections, including requiring mandatory updates to anti-harassment policies and for employers to provide annual sexual harassment prevention training.

Leaves of Absence

Mandatory paid and unpaid leave benefits continue to trend at the state and local level. Employers in Nevada, Washington, Washington DC, and Maine have new obligations related to paid leave. Additionally, New York and Rhode Island have expanded their leave benefits under existing paid leave laws, and Oregon has passed a paid family leave bill, which will take effect in 2022. Ensure that your leave administration procedures comply with recent legislation or consider leave administration outsourcing.

Pregnancy and Lactation Accommodations

Oregon employers should be aware of notice requirements as well as requirements to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee’s limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Additionally, several states including California and Oregon, have expanded the laws around lactation accommodations and additional lactation break requirements for employers.

Noncompete Agreements

Several states have updated the laws around the enforceability of non-compete agreements. Unlike California, where non-compete agreements are not allowed, Oregon, Washington, and Rhode Island allow non-compete agreements under certain circumstances. These states have amended laws around non-compete agreements including timelines to provide employees after employment has ended and specific threshold earnings amounts for employees.

Minimum Wage

Beginning January 1 (December 31, 2019, in New York), the minimum wage rate increased in 21 states and several local jurisdictions across the US. These changes also include increases to exempt salary thresholds in states, which are higher than the Federal requirement, such as in California and New York. In California alone, nearly 20 cities will see an increase in the minimum wage, which is higher than the state’s minimum wage. Consider an FLSA audit to ensure your employees are classified correctly and that you are in compliance with FLSA and similar state requirements.

Pre-employment Drug Screening

New York City and the State of Nevada have banned testing for marijuana in pre-employment screenings.

In conclusion

As the trend moves toward states driving employment law changes, compliance is becoming more complex. It is important to take steps to ensure that you’re keeping current with relevant employment laws that impact your organization and ensure your policies and procedures are up to date.

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