Compliance conundrum: 10 key issues impacting HR

In recent years, a number of changes have rapidly changed the way HR works, as transformations in society, government, culture, technology, communications and the legal landscape impact employers and the workplace.

From the #MeToo movement to a growing emphasis on paid leave and new pay equity laws, HR managers have their hands full. Speaking at the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference recently, Lori Kleiman, president of HR Topics, identified 10 issues as some of the biggest challenges for human resource professionals.

EEOC
Due in part to the #MeToo movement, EEOC complaints saw a 25% increase in 2018, Kleiman says. “What we’re doing isn’t enough,” she said. “Canned webinars aren’t changing behavior.”

She suggested visiting for the EEOC Select Task Force on Harassment website. “It gives you some really nice of what to do for your harassment training,” she said. For example, first make sure you’re giving people multiple options to report to, she noted. I always suggest it be a man and woman.

Also, she added, discuss what is and isn’t harassment, “sometimes people are complaining just because they don’t like someone,” she added. And do meaningful, ongoing training to get employees to begin talking about issues when they’re happening.
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Marijuana at work
“This is no longer something that we can avoid thinking about or talking about,” Kleiman said.

One of the things we know, sort of a new twist, is your drug testing companies will now exclude marijuana if you want them to from the tests, she said. “A lot of people have just said I don’t want to deal with it anymore.”

The issue with marijuana and drug testing is it stays in your system for 30 days, she noted. “Unlike other drugs and alcohol that they’re not under the influence at the time of the test. In your states where this is becoming legal, it’s something you really have to think about.”
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Overtime regulations
What we know now, is the number is likely going to go up to about $35,000, she said. Public comment ended and the final regulation will come out in about 60 days.

“I’m hearing most likely it’ll go in effect January 2020; what I’m telling people to do, think about this in terms of next year’s budget as your main to do,” she suggested. “Look at all the employees you have that are between $23,363 and $37k or $38k. There are some of those people above the threshold you’ll still need to give a little bit of increases to keep them from getting upset when all their coworkers get bumped,” she noted.
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LGBTQ rights
This is a very big deal because the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take two cases, she said. Those cases essentially combine the topic on the question of, if someone goes through transgender, where does the employee fall on gender; and whether or not sexual orientation is a protected civil right.

“We are just waiting,” she said, noting that leadership teams need to monitor the legal cases and communicate how the decision might impact corporate policy and practices. “It goes back to diversity, inclusion and respect in the workplace.”
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Paycheck Fairness Act
This will most likely pass, she noted. What employers need to do is prepare managers to get used to the idea of just asking the question: “What are your salary expectations? You can talk about money; you just can’t ask about what they have made in the past.”

Some other interesting thing, she added, is lawmakers are going to implement rules around protecting employees from discussing salary and will build in money to offer negotiation training for women.
Predictable scheduling
There are requirements coming out on how far in advance you have to tell people they’re scheduled. Different states have different rules, and one key factor is how far in advance you have to put your schedule out. “Make sure you’re staying in tune. This is something they’re looking at at a federal level,” she noted. “What I recommend, Google search ‘predictable scheduling’ and your state and see what comes up.”
Imputed income
With the tax law, some fringe benefits among other things started getting taxed. For example, employers will have to tax parking spots if you’re giving them a spot you’d normally pay for, she noted. Now it’s considered a fringe benefit. “Make sure you’re talking to your accountant about anything like this you’re providing,” she advised.

Every industry is going to be a little different, she added, but in this past year, a lot has changed with the next tax laws. “Make sure you’re up to speed.”
EEO-1 salary data
Employers must report pay data, broken down by race, sex and ethnicity, from 2017 and 2018 payrolls. The pay data reports are due Sept. 30.

Make sure you know what you’re doing, she advised. The portal for the salary info opens July 15. “I think we’ll know a lot more once that portal gets open, but if you’re at 100 employees or getting close, I’d start to pay attention to this.”
Arbitration
SCOTUS ruled we can require employees to sign a waiver of class action lawsuits. One of the reasons I heard from an attorney as to why you want to do begin having employees sign an arbitration agreement, is you want to do this is you don’t want to be the only one in town who hasn’t done it. There are three cases right now in SCOTUS that will clarify the language, so you’ll want your company attorney to draft the agreements.
State laws
From minimum wage and salary history bans to lactation laws and paid time off, staying on top of the patchwork of laws is essential, she said.

For example, the idea of opportunity to work. A few states, like Illinois, are passing laws that say you have to offer full-time work to your part-time employees first. “Stay on top of all these laws as we move forward,” she said, “and make sure you are auditing your HR functions.”