Labor law issues continued to make news in 2017, as state and local governments adopted new legislation at a frenzied pace. The new laws resulted in an array of posting changes, with an emphasis on minimum wage and paid sick leave.
Cities and states have been more active than the federal government, with many introducing their own laws with more generous benefits for workers. In fact, no mandatory changes were made to any of the following federal posters in 2017:
- FLSA/Minimum Wage
In the past year alone, minimum wage increases took effect in approximately 75 states, cities and counties across the United States. At least a dozen cities and counties also enacted paid sick leave benefits for employees. And many more posting changes are expected through January and into the near future.
From 2013 to mid-2017, 376 employment law updates required revisions or new additions to labor law posters. In 2016 alone, there were 120 changes, with only three at the federal level.
These developments aren’t surprising. As the Trump administration moves toward federal deregulation, city and state governments are taking regulatory issues into their own hands. As a result, the compliance environment for businesses is more complicated than ever.
Lawmakers Approve General Minimum Wage Laws Nationwide
By far, minimum wage laws have experienced the most activity — and the subject continues to make headlines year after year.
These adjustments at the local level are expected, considering the most recent federal minimum wage increase was back in 2009. Currently, the minimum wage rate for most non-exempt workers stands at $7.25 an hour.
Local governments are enacting new minimum wage laws at a rapid pace: 2015 ended with only 15 local minimum wage laws on the books. By mid-2017, that figure had jumped to 70.
Some of the laws more than double the federal wage. Others implement minor increases over time, which means employers with multiple locations may deal with changes through the year 2020 or even 2022, in many cases.
The definitions of “large” and “small” businesses, as they apply to minimum wage, also differ by jurisdiction. This can affect the rate at which employers are expected to increase their minimum wages in localities where higher rates are being phased in.
Sick Leave and Pregnancy Laws Gained Momentum in 2017
Paid sick leave laws also garnered national attention in 2017, with Rhode Island joining the list of seven states (and more than 30 localities) with paid sick leave laws.
Paid sick leave posting changes nationwide to date in 2017 are 12.
At the same time, increased protections for pregnant women in a growing number of states resulted in posting changes in Connecticut, Illinois, and Nevada.
States and cities passed legislation specifically targeting pregnancy discrimination and clarifying employers’ responsibilities to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. For example, some of these laws required employers to give pregnant employees more or longer bathroom breaks, longer or more frequent rest periods, light-duty assignments, job transfers, leave time and other accommodations.
In 2017, Connecticut, Illinois, and Nevada had poster changes as a result of these new laws.
The Nevada law also imposes a notification requirement, requiring employers to provide employees written notice of their rights under the law, in addition to the posting requirement.
Potential Federal Changes for 2018
Looking ahead, the potential for more sweeping federal changes still exists. Pending in Congress is the Healthy Families Act, the Workflex in the 21st Century Act and the Legal Workforce Act, all of which could affect federal labor law postings in 2018.
The Healthy Families Act would require employers with 15 or more employees to permit each employee to earn at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.
Under the Workflex in the 21st Century Act, employers that choose to participate in the program would follow a single federal framework for offering their full- and part-time employees paid leave. Participating employers would also be required to offer all employees a flexible work—or workflex—option, which could include a compressed work schedule, telecommuting program, job-sharing program or other option. Those employers that opt-in would be exempt from state and local paid leave and workflex laws.
Deregulation Means More State and Local Posting Changes
Whether federal laws are held up due to congressional gridlock, or because of the new administration’s focus on reducing or rolling back provisions, the result is the same. States and cities are picking up the pace and passing their own laws, which means employers must understand and comply with multiple levels of regulations — and workplace posting requirements.
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