The human resources field has seen a tremendous amount of change over the past year. Visible social movements and the policies of a new administration have kept HR professionals on their toes as they adapt to changing legislation on local and national levels. There has been an increased focus on advocating for equal pay in the workplace, and major legislative changes could affect how workers are classified and compensated.

As a result, HR departments are looking to anticipate changes in their sector in 2019. So, what are the biggest employment law trends in 2019 that will shape the HR landscape? Here are four your business should consider, based on everything we’re hearing in the market.

1. Ensuring Pay Equity

In April of 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it will require employers to turn over pay data, broken down by race, gender, and job category, by September 30. The request for this data indicates that they’re planning to analyze that data and propose pay regulations to close the pay gap.

The EEO-1 form was revised in 2016 to require employers to report pay information from workers’ W-2 forms by race, job category, and sex. However, the pay-data provisions were suspended in 2017. Several worker-advocacy groups challenged the hold on the pay-data collection provisions. On March 4th of 2019, a federal judge lifted the stay, and employers must submit the data to the EEOC by September 30. The deadline for Component 1 EEO-1 data is still May 31st. The Component 2 data (pay and hours worked) has not been required previously. So, employers face a challenge to gather and submit this new information by the September 30 deadline.

Businesses with at least 100 employees and federal contractors with at least 50 employees and a contract of $50,000 or more must file the EEO-1 form. You can count on an HR partner to identify if you need to submit this information and help you with the process of submission.

2. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Changes in 2019

Alterations to the FLSA regulations are another area where employers need to be up to date. With new regulations, the Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed that the overtime salary threshold be raised to $35,308 per year (or $679 per week). The proposal is currently in its commenting period, but it’s likely that it will be implemented. Although it’s a lower salary threshold than the change suggested in 2016 ($47,476), it still has major implications for employers and worker classification.

It may take several months for these changes to be implemented, but it’s important to prepare for them. With a new salary threshold for overtime, the eligibility of some employees may have changed. Consult with your HR manager to see which members of your team fall into that category. It’s also wise to work with your HR provider to begin or continue monitoring employee hours so that you can use that data when the new regulations come into play. You also may want to consider a pay increase for certain employees if you can provide them with additional duties or if they are a fit for an existing role.

Maintaining compliance with new overtime regulations may feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to go it alone. A solid HR partner can guide you through these changes and many others that occur during the year.

3. New Joint Employer Rule Proposal and Worker Classification

The Department of Labor proposed a rule on April 1st that would make major changes to the definition of joint employment. This change in regulations would make it harder for businesses to be held legally responsible for labor and employment law violations by staffing companies or franchisees. Many business owners are reassured by this regulation, which protects their larger operation from the legal missteps of staffing companies.

The proposed rule consists of a four-part test to determine whether someone who works for one company is also an employee of a second company. An employee can be considered an employee of a second company if that company:

  1. Hires or fires the employee;
  2. Supervises and controls the employee’s work schedules or conditions of employment;
  3. Determines the employee’s rate and method of payment, and:
  4. Maintains the employee’s employment records.

This new test could change the way some of your workers are classified, so it’s important to meet with your HR manager to determine how this new rule could affect your business when it goes into effect.

4. A Focus on Increasing Minimum Wage

There’s increased discussion about raising the minimum wage, both at the state and federal levels. In March, the House Education and Labor Committee voted to advance a bill that would more than double the current federal minimum wage, bringing it to $15 dollar an hour. States are also raising the minimum wage, with states such as Missouri and Arizona both passing laws in 2018 to increase pay for workers. Dubbed “the fight for 15”, this labor movement is advocating changes in cities, states, and at the national level.

Increased advocacy for both federal and state minimum wages means that employers must ensure they’re complying with updated laws. As an employer, you’ll need an HR professional to help you make sure your wages meet those standards. You may also want to consider raising wages in anticipation of increases, depending on your state or city. Slowly increasing wages over time, rather than waiting to comply with regulations, can afford you more financial stability overall.

Are You Prepared for the Employment Law Changes Coming this Year?

Keeping track of all of the employment law changes can be overwhelming, especially if you are a small or mid-sized business. That’s where our team at LBMC Employment Partners comes in.

Whether you’re looking to outsource the daily management of your HR tasks or have questions about the impact legislative changes have on your business, we’re here to help. You can connect with our team anytime to make sure your business is keeping up with all the employment law trends that are shaping Human Resources in 2019.