Hot Topics for HR Managers in 2020

Wishing you a happy, prosperous New Year   ̶  and best wishes with your bedside reading if you are an HR professional!  While this is not a comprehensive list, read on to get an idea of some of the new laws and trending HR issues you will need to be on top of for 2020:

New Laws and Regulations

Redesigned Form W-4 for 2020.  The IRS is simplifying calculations for withholding allowances in its new Form W-4 for employees starting new jobs on January 1, 2020.  Existing workers will not need to fill out a new form unless they change their withholdings.  Because of changes in the tax law related to the withholding allowance, personal exemptions are omitted and replaced by dollar estimates.  The IRS has provided an estimator that employees can use to determine how much to withhold at

State and Local Minimum Wage Increases.   The following states have minimum wage increases beginning in 2020:  Arizona, Colorado, and Maine ($12.00), and Washington ($13.50).  Other states like California have step increases toward a $15.00 minimum wage.  New Jersey, Maine, Ohio, and Vermont adjust based on the cost of living index.  The bottom line is that laws vary in nearly every state, county, or city, so check with your local governments to understand new wage requirements. 

Updates on Overtime Pay Exemptions.   The Department of Labor through the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has issued guidance on how to comply with new 2020 rules on overtime pay.  In general, employees must meet tests satisfying job descriptions, duties, and salary levels to be exempt from overtime pay.  All employers with salaried workers earning less than $35,568 should review their overtime compliance.

A New Option for Employer-Paid Healthcare Reimbursement.  To expand healthcare flexibility beginning in 2020, the government will allow companies to reimburse some or all premium expenses for employees, subject to specific requirements, rather than offering a traditional group health plan. Called an individual coverage health reimbursement account, or ICHRA, employers should study the pros and cons before deciding to adopt this interesting new opportunity.  

Trending Hot Topics

Cyber Crime.  Your company could be vulnerable to an expensive cyber-attack via an unwitting employee who simply clicks on a link in an email.  That’s what happened in Riviera Beach, Fl, whose City Council paid $592,000 to get their data back after a ransomware attack, and Lake City, FL, where the thieves took the $460,000 ransom and ran (no honor among thieves!).  Viruses attached to infected files and even Twitter links can upload havoc into your networks.  For 2020, the IRS provides resources and urges “employers large and small to step up cybersecurity protections against business identity theft.”  

The Gig Economy is not going away.  Managing remote workers on a global scale will continue to challenge supervisors who must rethink how to organize, lead, and reward diverse teams in flexible working arrangements.  Consider the advantages in attracting top-level candidates who want flexibility, efficiencies of workflow and labor requirements, and potential reduced HR expenses using contract labor. 

Re-defining Discrimination.  To refine the identification of behaviors or characteristics of harassment or discrimination in the workplace, various states are updating their standards.  Effective January 1, California is banning hairstyle discrimination by redefining its definition of “race” to include possible racial characteristics like “braids, locks, and twists” (SB 188).  Illinois has enhanced its employer requirements regarding written anti-discrimination policies and training for employees about sexual harassment (775 IL Comp. Stat. 5/2-109).  Oregon’s Workplace Fairness Act expands the statute of limitations for claims to five years, creating new document retention requirements for all hires.  

If you have not already done so, January is the perfect time to review all your hiring policies and practices, written employee notifications and training, and seek the help of legal counsel to ensure compliance before implementing enhanced workplace protections. 

Partnership Employment wishes you and your employees’ success and prosperity in the New Year!