When navigating the ever-evolving landscape of employment regulations, it is imperative for employers to stay up-to-date on employment law updates that significantly impact workplace policies and practices. Groundbreaking components of employment regulations are reshaping the legal framework surrounding employment practices. In fact, the recognition of unique employee needs, like reproductive loss leave and career pathway options, underscores the growing trend toward laws that encompass a holistic approach to transparency and employee well-being. Here are several noteworthy regulations going into effect in 2024 that are revolutionizing employment law and establishing trends that all employers should observe as they update their policies and employee handbooks.

1. Colorado leave and compensation laws

Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance

Starting January 1, 2024, the Colorado Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program provides eligible employees with benefits. Contributions to the program began on January 1, 2023, and employees can access paid leave benefits on January 1, 2024.

To qualify, employees must have earned a minimum of $5,200 in wages during a base period, typically the preceding year. The leave can be taken for various reasons, including:

    • Employee’s own serious health condition
    • Care for a family member with a serious health condition
    • Care for a new child during the first year after birth, adoption, or foster care placement
    • Qualifying exigency leave
    • Safe leave

This program allows for 12 weeks of leave in an application year, with an additional four weeks available for employees facing serious health conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth complications.

Employers are required to comply with specified notice and posting requirements, informing employees about their rights and the PFML program. A leave notice must be posted in a prominent location in the workplace; new employees must be provided notice upon hire and to employees upon learning they need leave. If an employee requests leave under FMLA, employers must inform them that they may be eligible for paid leave under the PFML. The required notices can be found here.

The law also addresses interaction with other policies. Employers may require payment under PFML to be coordinated under a disability policy, and written notice must be provided. Employees cannot be compelled to exhaust accrued paid leave before or while receiving PFML benefits unless mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee.

Colorado pay transparency

Colorado’s recent updates to pay transparency laws initiated a significant shift for HR professionals, demanding a comprehensive understanding of the updated Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. This legislative change places a heightened obligation on employers to disclose extensive information to their existing workforce concerning available job openings and potential pathways for career progression within the company. In practical terms, this means that employers are now mandated to post all job and promotional opportunities, providing not only details about the roles but also specifying salary ranges, the array of benefits associated with each position, and comprehensive insights into the hiring process.

This increased transparency is designed to empower employees by granting them greater visibility into internal career prospects, thereby fostering a more equitable and informed work environment. Organizations can promote fairness and inclusivity by ensuring employees have access to adequate information about job opportunities, ultimately contributing to a positive workplace culture.

Of particular significance is extending the backpay recovery period from three to six years for employees raising claims of pay discrimination. This necessitates a meticulous review of compensation structures and practices for HR professionals to ensure compliance with the updated law and proactive efforts to communicate these changes to the workforce. Striving for transparency aligns with legal standards and enhances employee trust, engagement, and satisfaction, reinforcing a commitment to fair employment practices in the evolving landscape of Colorado’s pay transparency regulations.

2. Illinois employee leave updates

Paid Leave for All Workers Act

The Paid Leave for All Workers Act (PLAWA) was enacted on January 1, 2024. This groundbreaking law requires covered employers to offer paid time off that employees can use for any reason. Applicable to all private employers in Illinois with at least one employee, the PLAWA allows employees the freedom to take leave without having to provide a specific reason.

Under this law, employees accrue one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked, accumulating up to 40 hours per year. They can carry over unused leave, up to 40 hours, into the following year, although employers can cap usage at 40 hours annually. Notably, employers are not obligated to modify existing paid leave policies if they already meet the minimum requirements of the new law, and employees have the flexibility to take leave for any reason.

Additional guidance is anticipated, and employers are advised to ensure their current paid leave policies align with the new legislation, marking a pivotal development in Illinois employee rights and workplace benefits.

Family Bereavement Leave Act

Effective January 1, 2024, the Illinois Family Bereavement Leave Act (FBLA) underwent a significant transformation as it was renamed the Child Bereavement Leave Act (CEBLA). This revised legislation mandates additional unpaid leave for eligible employees who experience the loss of a child due to suicide or homicide. The duration of the leave is contingent upon the employer’s size, with businesses employing 50 to 249 full-time employees mandated to provide six weeks, while those with 250 or more employees are required to offer 12 weeks of leave.

To qualify, employees must work full-time and have a tenure of at least two weeks with the employer. Employees can substitute accrued paid leave for unpaid bereavement leave, adding a layer of flexibility during challenging times. Employers should review and align their bereavement leave policies with the expanded provisions of the law.

3. California leave laws

California paid sick leave amendments

Effective January 1, 2024, amendments to California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (HWHFA) brought considerable changes to paid sick leave regulations. The updated provisions increased the number of paid sick days available to employees annually from three to five days. Additionally, the accrual bank and carryover cap are elevated from 6 days to 10 days, providing workers with a more substantial resource for addressing health-related needs. Employees are now required to accrue at least five days of paid sick leave within the first six months of their employment.

Employers should ensure their paid time off (PTO) policies comply with the amended leave law. If a separate paid sick leave (PSL) policy exists, it must be revised and updated accordingly. Moreover, employers must adjust payroll systems and paystubs to reflect these changes.

California reproductive loss leave

Starting January 1, 2024, California introduces SB 848 reproductive loss leave, compelling employers to grant employees up to five days of unpaid leave following a range of reproductive losses, including miscarriage, stillbirth, failed adoption, unsuccessful surrogacy, or assisted reproduction.

This progressive regulation applies to all employers with five or more employees, encompassing individuals employed for a minimum of 30 days.

In the case of multiple reproductive losses, employees have the option to take up to 20 days of leave within any 12-month period. While the leave is unpaid, employees can use their accrued paid time off during this period. Notably, employees are not required to provide documentation to support their leave request, encouraging a sympathetic approach to these challenging situations.

Employers should update leave policies and handbooks to ensure compliance with these employment law updates, showcasing California’s evolving landscape of reproductive rights and compassionate workplace practices.

4. Minnesota paid sick leave

Effective January 1, 2024, Minnesota makes comprehensive changes to its Earned Sick & Safe Time Law (ESST) with leave provisions that apply to employers with one or more employees. Notably, this new law repeals the state’s Kin Care Leave legislation on the same date. Employee eligibility is extended to those who work at least 80 hours in a year for a given employer in Minnesota, encompassing part-time and temporary employees.

The qualifying reasons for leave are:

    • An employee’s or family member’s mental or physical illness
    • An employee’s or family member’s injury or health condition
    • An employee’s or family member’s need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment or need for preventative care
    • Absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee or their family member
    • Closure of an employee’s workplace, a family member’s school, or place of care due to inclement weather
    • A public emergency
    • Reasons related to a communicable disease

Employees earn one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, accumulating up to 48 hours annually. Employees can use leave as it accrues and may carry over up to 80 hours of unused accrued leave. A distinctive aspect allows employees to use all available banked hours and subsequently accrue additional hours to replenish them after use, allowing flexibility in managing sick and safe time. Under this new leave law, it will be possible for an employee to use more than 80 hours of sick and safe time within one year.

Employers are advised to ensure their paid leave policies align with the new law’s requirements, marking a pivotal shift in Minnesota employee benefits and workplace regulations.

5. Other notable state employment law trends

In addition to these five surprising employment law updates, there are several additional noteworthy updates employers should be aware of.

Colorado has decriminalized certain natural psychedelic medicines, including psilocybin and psilocin. While this change doesn’t mean employers must accommodate the use of these substances in the workplace, it does require Colorado employers to review and potentially update their drug policies to reflect the evolving legal landscape.

Hawaii has joined the ranks of states requiring the disclosure of salary ranges in job postings. The state has expanded its existing equal pay requirements by prohibiting employers from paying employees in protected categories less than others for substantially similar work. Additionally, certain job listings must disclose the hourly rate or salary range, providing transparency in compensation expectations.

Oregon has expanded protected leave eligibility under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) to include bias crime victims, offering crucial support for those facing such circumstances.

Washington has enacted new regulations prohibiting employers from discriminating against individuals in hiring based on their off-duty and off-site use of cannabis or if a drug screening test detects the presence of nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites. The state now allows access to an employee’s Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Act claim records upon request, facilitating internal administration of employer leave or benefit practices.

Employers should be prepared; 2024 brings many surprising and impactful employment law updates, reshaping the legal landscape. From implementing progressive family and medical leave programs to expanding paid sick leave provisions, the focus on employee well-being and workplace transparency is taking center stage. Specific laws addressing reproductive loss, pay transparency, and the protection of bias crime victims highlight a growing recognition of diverse workplace needs, and these changes underscore the importance of employers staying vigilant and adapting their policies to ensure compliance with the evolving legal framework.

All employers should keep up-to-date on these growing trends and begin adapting, creating, and updating their policies, even if located in a state not yet requiring these updates by law. Keeping up with changes to employment laws can be difficult, but our team of experts is here to provide support and answer any questions you may have.

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