A new year brings new changes to our organizations, employment relationships, laws, regulations, handbooks and policies. As more states continue to pass state specific legislation, we need to ensure that our handbooks and labor posters are updated accordingly.
Below are 5 areas to watch related to employee handbooks:
- Workplace Conduct and Social Media: Under the new administration, we could see more flexibility in social media policies (pro-employer). Social media is a concern in many organizations, ensure that your policy is legal, up-to-date and not overreaching.
- Arbitration Agreements: There are multiple lawsuits in federal courts related to employer arbitration agreements. These decisions can impact our organizations. I have not implemented arbitration agreements. However, they are growing in popularity.
- Sexual Harassment/Harassment Policies: This speaks for itself. California and Maine have modified their current laws related to sexual harassment, we could see significant changes in New York State, as stated by the Governor recently. Ensure that there is a zero-tolerance and retaliation policies in place, and all employees are trained on current policies and procedures. Organizations need to be proactive and not reactive to issues.
- Parental Leave: Paid Family Leave was effective January 1, 2018. Ensure that you have updated policies and handbook language to reflect this significant legislative change. The state has a website full of information to utilize as we move forward in 2018.
Model Language for Employer Material
- Disability and Other Accommodations: Review language related to the ADA, FMLA and medical marijuana. Medical marijuana law(s) continues to evolve. “In 2017, several courts ruled that registered medical marijuana users who were fired or passed over for jobs because of their medicinal use could bring claims under state disability laws.”[i]
As laws continue to evolve, now is the time to review handbooks, policies and procedures. If you are unclear on a path-forward or what to look for, seek guidance. Do not assume a Google search will provide legal and accurate information, draft handbook language or valid training material.
2018 IRS Mileage Rate:
“Beginning on Jan. 1, 2018, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also a van, pickup or panel truck) will be:
- 5 cents for every mile of business travel driven, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
- 18 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 1 cent from the rate for 2017.
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, unchanged from 2017.”[ii]
Mandatory State Labor Law Poster Changes Effective January 2018:
- Alaska— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Arizona— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- California— Transgender Rights, effective Jan. 1, 2018, Discrimination, Jan. 1, 2018
- Colorado— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Florida — Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Hawaii — Wage and Hour Laws, effective July 10, 2017, OSHA, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Maine — Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Minnesota–– Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Missouri— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Montana— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Nevada — Rules to Observed by Employers, effective July 1, 2017
- New Jersey— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- New York— Minimum Wage, effective Dec. 31, 2017
- North Carolina — Wage and Hour Notice to Employees, effective Dec. 31, 2017
- Ohio— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Rhode Island — Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- South Dakota — Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Vermont— Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnancy, effective Jan. 1, 2018
- Washington— Minimum Wage, effective Jan. 1, 2018, Your Rights as a Worker, Jan. 1,2018
As always-if you feel uncertain or want an extra set of eyes, finding a consultant or strategic legal partner is a good idea. For more information about these subjects, click on the links here or reach out to schedule a meeting and consultation.
-Matthew W. Burr