Looking Ahead: Trends Coming to a State Near You!

As another year draws to a close, it’s a good idea to reflect on the ways social movements have impacted how we do business, especially in areas like wages, benefits, and procedures. If you’ve been a regular reader of our Partnership Employment blog page, you’ll know we have touched on many key issues that have challenged our partners this year.  Let’s review some of the significant changes that could challenge or provide competitive opportunity in 2019:

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The #MeToo movement was one of 2018’s most discussed HR issues. According to a Bloomberg article, by the one-year anniversary of #MeToo, a low-balled 425 powerful men had been dethroned for harassing behavior!  The article points out that there is less accountability in some industries like finance because of incentives like non-disclosures and settlements in exchange for silence.  However, penalties are expensive, damage to the brand long-lasting, and the behavior unlawful and immoral, so prevention should be a top priority for 2019.

New Wage and Leave Laws

Depending on the size and location of your business, you might be subject to some of the new laws relating to wages, benefits, and time off.  Take note of the following wage and benefits trends:

  • According to a USA Today article, 22 states and DC will increase minimum wages in 2019. MA increases to $12 January 1.  New York City will join Seattle and Mountain View, CA with a $15 minimum wage, depending on company size.  Other states and localities are on track with step increases towards $16 and even $17 per hour by 2022.  For insights, see our blog The Minimum Wage Conundrum.     
  • Pay equity laws are in the news.  Oregon’s governor recently joined MA, CA, and NY by enacting the Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017 into law. Essential requirements:  don’t ask about an applicant’s previous salary (see our blog Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) and don’t pay different rates for comparable work based on EEOC factors.  Some exceptions are merit, seniority, educational and training level. While the law should guide employers in eliminating disparities in compensation, compliance means that employers must diligently document pay levels and keep detailed records in the event they are sued.
  • Paidparental and medical leave policies (PFML) will become increasingly common. Employers in WA kick off 2019 by remitting premiums and quarterly reports, so employees can begin taking PFML in 2020.  The payroll contribution model is already implemented in CA, NJ, RI, and NY.  According to data from the Society for Human Resource Management, company-paid maternity leave is up 35% over two years, and all 20 of the largest companies in the U.S., now offer some form of paid family leave to the roughly four million workers who take time off each year.

Update your Employee Handbook

If you haven’t already done so, update your workplace policies to ensure consistency in standards, especially as you integrate new rules and procedures according to regulatory and legal changes.  If your company is in multiple states, you’ll need separate handbooks for each.  Update healthcare, retirement, and leave policies as appropriate, and take into consideration city and local exceptions or additions to state law.

Double-check that your workplace behavioral, ethical and EEOC accommodation standards are clearly stated and that they include the penalties and remediation for discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct.  Allow a team of employees to offer input before you distribute.

Recruiting Top Quality Candidates

With unemployment still at record lows, finding top talent will continue to be a challenge. Forecasting requirements early and working with a talented recruiter, will give you the jump on filling labor gaps. Marketing to and attracting talented individuals is time consuming and costly, so consider onboarding an HR professional recruitment company like Partnership Employment.

Wishing You a Prosperous New Year!

Finally, thank you for trusting us and allowing us to serve you.  We’ll continue to writeabout some of your top HR concerns for 2019.  Contact us here if you would like to suggest a blog topic or need great employee candidates for 2019.

Partnership Employment is lucky to have customers like you. As partners, your success is our success.  So in welcoming the New Year, we thank you for your business and wish you a very successful 2019!