What Are the Top HR Compliance Trends to be Aware of?


Although finding and retaining quality talent is a primary area of concern for most employers, there are compliance-related topics that frequently arise in client discussions that may take priority.  Here we will review these areas of high focus and  the proactive steps you may consider in addressing them.

Employee Leaves of Absence (Paid Leave)

Currently, only D.C. and five states (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Washington) have paid family-leave programs2, but this number can and will continue to expand.  Exclusive of the implementation of state and federal laws, many employers have taken a proactive approach to expand their time-off policies as a tool to attract and retain talent in the tight labor market.  At a minimum, most employers should step back to assess how competitive their time-off policies are in today’s environment.

Employee Drug Use

Numerous employers are seeing a rise in employee drug use. Dealing with an incredibly tight labor market makes them reluctant to implement and/or enforce strict drug testing policies for both candidates and current employees in fear of limiting their ability to hire or retain talent in critically needed roles.  Though it's quite the conundrum, we recommend that employers reassess their policies to ensure they currently make sense for their organizational circumstances from both a safety and staffing perspective.

Violence in the Workplace – Prevention and Incident Response Planning

According to a recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)1, approximately 1 out of 7 Americans said they do not feel safe at work. Nearly a quarter of employees and almost half of HR professionals polled said they had experienced an incident of workplace violence, with 14% of employees and 25% of HR professionals reporting incidents last year.

According to SHRM's data, nearly one-third of American employees were "currently unsure or don't know what to do if they witness or are involved in a workplace violence incident." 1 in 5 responding HR professionals were also unsure of what to do in such incidents.

Take a proactive approach in educating employees on what actions they should or should not take if presented with such an event to ease some of their concerns. There are an increasing number of programs and resources that are available for employers to utilize to help prepare their employees.

Ban the Box Laws

An extensive number of local and state governments have implemented “ban the box” laws that would prohibit employers from inquiring about past criminal convictions for candidates until the final stages of pre-hire process. Although these laws have not been extended to private employers in Ohio, this is an area that should be regularly monitored to ensure your candidate screening processes meet current regulations.

Salary Exempt Classifications

The Department of Labor has proposed an increase to the salary-level threshold for white-collar exemptions from $23,660 to $35,308 per year. The second requirement for exemptions is the duties test which is dependent on a variety of factors with slightly different criteria. The Department of Labor is not proposing any changes to this test.

If the proposed changes are adopted, employers will need to evaluate their exempt-level employees first to ensure they will meet the new salary threshold. If they do not, then employers are faced with two options: to increase the salary for all exempt employees to meet the new threshold or reclassify the employees to nonexempt which means they are eligible for overtime pay.

If your organization is experiencing these same concerns it is important to be up-to-date and make changes in a timely manner to avoid fault. There are numerous resources you can lean on to guide you through them. Then you can get back to other high-priorities like finding and retaining top talent.


1 https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/pages/workplace-violence.aspx
2 https://www.marketwatch.com/story/only-5-states-have-paid-family-leave-laws-allowing-parents-to-bond-with-their-newborn-2019-02-06
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