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updated: 2/3/2017 10:34 AM

What business owners should expect in 2016

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  • Vicki Gerson

    Vicki Gerson

 

The United States hasn't had a business man as president for many years. For the past eight years, America had a president who served as a professor in the Law School (1992-2004), at the University of Chicago until his election to the U.S. Senate.

An emphasis on business, salaries

Now, with the presidency of Donald Trump, there could be critical changes in business policy in the years ahead. There is no doubt that business will see a shift from employee-centered laws to laws the benefit business owners. One of former President Obama's goals was to curb the abuses he saw in business-now they may exist again.

"New laws will favor the employers more than the employees," said Heather A. Bailey, partner at Smith Amundsen LLC. "There will be different people running the Department of Labor, as well as the different agencies. This will cause a change in salary and overtime policies." If Congress decides to pass employer friendly laws, it may save the employers money. The courts get to interpret the laws, and expect a new Supreme Court justice to be conservative and employer friendly.

Because the trend was employee focused, the Department of Labor doubled the salaries of its employees. Many cities, like New York, will have a minimum wage of $15 per hour in one or two years.

Some companies went out of business because new minimum wages were introduced in their cities. Many villages set up minimum wages more than the federal $7.25 per hour. Bailey believes the minimum wage will never be reduced, but with Congress favoring employers, villages and cities may keep minimum wages as low as possible.

Health care, social media

It appears Congress is determined to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but what will take its place hasn't been determined yet.

Currently, you have employers who pay a penalty if they don't offer health insurance for their employees. It is possible there won't be a penalty anymore, and employers will not have to pay or be responsible for getting health insurance for their employees. Many employers would welcome such a change.

Right now it's unsure what will happen to Paid Sick Leave Laws. Only five states have such a law and two more just approved it. Illinois is not one of them. It is highly unlikely that Congress will allow such a law to pass. If an employer does offer such a benefit, other benefits either disappear or are reduced.

Employers who don't have a union for their employees have to be concerned about what their social media policy is. They will need to establish a media policy to make sure employees don't use social media to the company's disadvantage.

Noncompete policies

Employers may want to think of noncompete clauses as a prenuptial agreement. After interviewing a potential new employee, the prospective employer may ask the jobseeker to sign a noncompete clause. Noncompete clauses have been on the rise for years. Noncompete clauses are being used with more than top executives, technicians and scientists. Now, they are being used by employers to protect sensitive processes, technologies, information and trade secrets.

Employers must consult with their attorney to make sure they have a legitimate business interest to have a noncompete clause for specific employees. Bailey believes this has always been important to employers and will remain an important issue in 2016. In Illinois, employers must be sure the agreement complies with Illinois laws, specify how long it is and state what the employer is trying to protect.

• Vicki Gerson of Vicki Gerson & Associates Inc. Contact her at writer@vickigerson.com