The New HR Rules: Employment law updates for 2020
by Anniken Davenport
A new year means new HR rules. A comprehensive legal and HR compliance update is absolutely essential for keeping up with ever-changing laws and regulations. Start 2020 confident you can field questions from supervisors, employees, and corporate leadership. Here’s what you need to know about employment law changes to stay ahead of the curve.
The push for so-called work-life balance isn’t going away. The economy continues to grow and the labor market remains tight. Having family-friendly policies can help let an employer stand out as a desirable place to work. Meanwhile, new laws and novel interpretations of old ones require constant handbook and policy updates. Many employers are struggling to comply with multiple, sometimes inconsistent, rules. Here’s what you should review to make sure you’re compliant:
- Mother’s rooms: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides unlimited breaks to express milk during the first year of an infant’s life. Hourly employees are entitled to as many unpaid breaks as are necessary. The break room must be private and cannot be a bathroom. The rule applies to all employers with 50 or more workers. It also covers employers with at least one employee unless the employer can show complying means undue hardship.
- Paid leave: More states and cities have added paid leave laws. These may cover sick, family or other time off. Eleven states and the District of Columbia mandate it, along with 30 cities and counties in states that don’t. Check the rules in every location where you employ workers, including those who telecommute.
- Pregnancy and childbirth leave: Childbirth, or maternity and paternity leave, is distinct from paid leave, but can also overlap. For example, the FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid childbirth and bonding leave. Paid leave laws cover childbirth recovery, but not necessarily bonding time. Check the latest laws on childbirth leave, too. Currently, only the District of Columbia and California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and Washington – have paid childbirth leave laws. Your new HR rules should coordinate unpaid FMLA, paid leave and childbirth leave into one comprehensive policy. Finally, make sure your childbirth and bonding leave doesn’t leave the father out. More men are suing for equal rights and winning.
Perhaps the biggest HR compliance development in 2019 was the push for so-called pay equity. Several states have passed new HR Rules that prohibit employers from asking about current or past salary when hiring. The idea is to force employers to make salary offers based on experience, education, and talent.
If HR doesn’t know what salary a candidate currently receives, the offer has to be based on merit. The applicant won’t get an offer that’s less than her credentials suggest just because her old employer discriminated. You can find an interactive map here