As a small-business owner, you know all too well that there are seemingly endless government regulations to keep track of and comply with. Among the most challenging — and those with some of the most serious consequences for noncompliance — are the nation’s labor laws. Cities, states, and the federal government all contribute to the complex fabric that governs your interactions with your employees.
Here are some of the key changes and trends on tap for 2014:
From sea to shining sea, the minimum wage is rising. California wages will rise to a minimum mandatory $9 per hour on July 1, and to $10 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2016. Throughout the upcoming midterm election cycle, lawmakers are likely to continue to debate a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.
Paid Leave Laws
Regulations that require employers to provide additional forms of paid leave continued to expand in 2014. New York City recently expanded its paid sick leave law to apply to companies with five or more employees. Employers there must provide up to five paid sick days per year in case of an employee’s illness or that of a close family member.
In California, in addition to requiring paid time off to care for seriously ill parents, spouses, and children (or to bond with minor children), employers will also be required to provide paid leave to employees caring for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law starting July 1.
‘Failure to Post’ Fines
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) both impose penalties and fines if employers don’t post notices properly and adequately. The EEOC more than doubled the fines for employers that fail to comply with notice-posting requirements.
If you fail to comply with the notice-posting requirements of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, you could now be fined $210 per violation, up from $100. This change took effect on April 18. Notices must be posted in a prominent and accessible place where notices to employees and applicants are customarily maintained.
The OSHA poster requirements bring steep fines (up to $7,000 per occurrence) for noncompliance, so ensuring your employees are apprised of their rights is well worth the minimal effort to comply.
Employee Privacy Laws
The ever-evolving technology landscape means that employers must be vigilant in keeping up with the laws governing employees’ privacy rights. Everything from credit history and criminal background checks to monitoring social media passwords is up for discussion — and possible regulation — in 2014 and beyond.
Colorado became the tenth state to limit the use of credit checks in employee applications on Jan. 1. Similar bills are pending in 35 states, and the U.S. Senate is also considering legislation on this topic.
Twelve states prohibit employers from requiring applicants or employees to provide their social media login IDs and passwords. Social media activities themselves continue to be part of the employer-employee debate, with the National Labor Relations Board frequently weighing in on what employers can and cannot do in this arena.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies will continue to challenge employers in 2014 as many companies take advantage of the savings afforded by BYOD while balancing the need to protect consumer and corporate data on devices the organization neither owns nor controls.
Intuit’s Compliance Service
Keeping up with these changing requirements is further complicated by the fact that government agencies often fall short when it comes to communicating the new laws to employers. When the cost of noncompliance with even a single one of the myriad regulations can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, it’s worth considering a cost-effective solution, such as the Intuit Poster Compliance Service, to ensure that your labor law posters are always up to date.