Legal Trends Your HR Department Needs to Know About

June 2019 | Article

By Lauri Dahlberg

The human resources landscape continues to evolve and change, sometimes at a rapid pace. Among those changes are legal developments, many of which don’t make front-page news but will land employers in hot water if they don’t comply. Here is a brief overview of current HR legal trends that employers should consider.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
There continues to be a lot of discussion and momentum regarding minimum wage. Overall, there are 19 states currently working to increase the minimum wage. Most states are developing a plan that will gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour over time. Additionally, there seems to be some change coming to the Overtime Ruling. The current base compensation required before an employee is exempt is $23,660. While it may not be increased to the desired $48,000, it could get passed at a salary somewhere between $30,000 and $35,000. In addition, several states have overtime calculations for non-exempt employees that differ from the traditional “time-and-one-half for any hours worked over 40 per week.”

Off-the-Clock Work
Technology often tethers employees to work beyond normal working hours. Email access via phone, remote work access on home computers, and the ability to hold meetings via Skype or other video chatting programs make working outside of the office easy and efficient, and more difficult to “turn off” when the normal workday is officially done. This is triggering a review by federal and state labor laws to determine if time spent working through technology outside of work should count as hours worked, and therefore be paid.

Ban-the-Box
Another legal trend comes from the Ban-the-Box campaign. These laws state that employers cannot ask questions related to arrest or conviction records prior to a face-to-face interview or job offer. Currently, there are just a small number of states that have these laws in place for private employers. Employers should check their state laws to determine if they need to update their employment application, online application process or pre-screening questions. 

Paid & Unpaid Leave
There are currently 11 states and 30 jurisdictions that have enacted paid leave for sick, family, pregnancy, military and domestic violence situations. For states that have no paid sick leave law requirements, they may have other laws in place that could require employers to provide some unpaid time off for certain situations such as pregnancy or parental needs.

Pay Equity
This legal trend continues the push for equal pay for similar work. There is also movement towards restricting questions regarding salary history during the hiring process in an effort to stop pay inequity for continuing in situations where someone is not being paid fairly for the job they have done in the past.

Expanded Anti-Harassment Training
As a result of the #metoo movement, companies are reviewing their current harassment and discrimination policies. Many are also conducting training to remind employees and managers to keep the workplace free from harassment.

Marijuana Legalization
With the rise of legalizing both medicinal and recreational use of marijuana across the U.S., employers should address marijuana usage in their employee handbook as part of the drug and alcohol policy.

Contact your Eide Bailly professional or a member of our HR Consulting team to learn how to comply with current legal considerations and bring your Human Resource practices, policies and procedures into compliance.

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