Most business owners realize, from the moment they hire their first employee, that human resources (HR) can be a tedious and time-consuming process. And the more employees you add to your team, the more work HR becomes. HR rules and regulations can differ tremendously by state or jurisdiction and, to make matters more complicated, these rules and regulations are constantly changing. If you aren’t careful, you can find yourself facing all sorts of compliance issues, many of which can put you at risk for penalties and lawsuits. It’s no wonder that so many business owners are at the end of their HR rope by the time they find TriNet.
Fortunately, we are here to help you make sense of it all. Throughout this summer, TriNet has been traveling the nation to help leaders of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) identify the biggest changes affecting their business right now. These events, called Juggle the Struggle, are just one way TriNet helps SMBs remain confident and compliant in their HR—without the juggle or the struggle.
Here is just a sampling of what thousands of business leaders across the nation have been learning at these events to help them prepare for major changes in the world of HR:
Affordable Care Act (ACA): For years, the healthcare conversation for employers has revolved around ACA regulations. This is one area that has seen constant change and it’s likely we will see more. TriNet will continue to stay on top of regulations surrounding the ACA and provide communications to clients as things develop. For now, employers should proceed with business as usual regarding providing employee benefits under the ACA.
Immigration policy: Employers who hire internationally certainly have some concerns regarding the status of H-1B visas. Fortunately for these employers, TriNet has experts who specialize in helping them navigate the choppy waters of international hiring. If you are affected by the travel ban or suspension of premium processing for H-1B visas, it is important to reach out to a professional HR services provider or an experienced immigration attorney who can help you continue to maintain best practices until we know more about how the immigration policy will change.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): Few things cause employers such consistent confusion (and potential lawsuits) as employee classification. In addition to understanding the rules around whether an employee is considered exempt or non-exempt. Recently, a federal court invalidated the final overtime rule originally proposed by the Obama administration that would have raised the salary threshold for workers to be considered exempt from overtime from the current amount of $23,660 to $47,476. It is expected that the Trump administration will propose a revised-yet-again overtime rule that will raise the salary threshold for exempt status, predicted to be around $33,000. TriNet constantly monitors updates to laws such as the FLSA to notify and assist clients to be compliant.
Paid sick leave: Several states and municipalities have either passed or are considering paid sick leave laws that require many employers to offer paid sick leave to their employees. Even if paid sick leave doesn’t yet affect your business, it very well soon may. For this reason, TriNet is helping clients prepare for what could come.
Equal pay: Like paid sick leave laws, equal pay laws are very complex and made more so because they vary by city, county and state. Making sure employees in similar roles, with similar duties, receive equal pay isn’t just a compliance concern—it’s an HR best practice. Employers should audit their employees’ current pay to ensure they comply with any current equal pay laws in their area. Then they should train their managers and recruiters to make sure no job applications or interviews talk about salary history in a manner that would violate applicable laws. Employers should also take note of pending equal pays laws or changes to those laws so ensure continued compliance.
Marijuana: While marijuana use is still illegal under federal law, 28 states and Washington D.C. have legalized it for medicinal purposes, while eight of these states—and D.C.—have also legalized it for recreational use. But just because it’s legal in places does not mean you must allow it in the workplace. Employers should still maintain a drug-free workplace in compliance with applicable federal laws, but they need to be aware of, and comply with, all state and local laws regarding medical marijuana. There are new laws and legal decisions related to medical marijuana use that restrict what employers can and can’t do when it comes to HR actions such as testing, background checks, accommodation, discipline and termination. This means making sure you communicate to all employees, including upon hire, your policies addressing important employment matters such drug use, drug testing and related disciplinary action.
Bathroom bills: While several states are considering legislation restricting access to bathroom facilities based on one’s assigned birth gender, California has enacted the first “all gender” facilities law. Employers should take special considerations in respecting employees’ privacy to mitigate risk and help ensure compliance. Our blog post on managing transgender employees contains helpful tips for HR best practices.
Ban the box: To help those with criminal records find gainful employment, many states are requiring employers to remove the box on job applications that asks an applicant about their criminal history as well as setting specific rules on the process of background checks. TriNet can help provide specific information on background screening of potential candidates without getting into compliance trouble.
This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.