It's true that finding consensus these days is a challenge in Congress. Despite that, small and large employers alike need to stay on top of the laws governing the employment relationship and pay attention to state legislative differences. Here are a few notable developments affecting wages, benefits, military protections, reimbursement, paid breaks, and harassment:
The Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA) recently passed the House and was read in the Senate. The bill would require employers to report, among other things, job salaries, promotions, and terminations to the federal government, broken down by gender and race. The PFA has been introduced 11 times over the years and has never gained enough steam to be signed into law, but that may be changing.
In March 2019, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its long-awaited proposed rule to amend the current overtime regulations. Specifically, the proposed overtime rule would raise the minimum salary threshold under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) "white collar" exemption to $35,308 per year ($679 per week). The DOL will take time to review submitted comments and an effective date for the final rule is not expected until 2020.
Illinois became the fifth state in the country to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour. Currently, the Illinois state minimum wage is $8.25 per hour.
Under the new law, the hourly minimum wage will increase to $9.25 on January 1, 2020, until reaching $15 on January 1, 2025.
At the beginning of 2019, additional provisions were put into place to strengthen the Illinois Service Member Employment and Re-employment Rights Act (ISERRA) designed to provide employment protections to service members.
On January 1, 2019, Illinois began requiring employers to reimburse employees for all necessary expenses that are incurred by the employee within the employee's scope of employment that are directly related to services performed for the employer.
Last year, a new retirement savings vehicle called Illinois Secure Choice was implemented which requires any Illinois employer with 25 or more employees to participate in the program, unless they already offer a qualified retirement savings plan to their employees.
The program has rolled out in phases with full implementation slated for the end of 2019.
Effective August 2018, Illinois employers must provide a reasonable amount of paid breaks to mothers who breast-feed or express milk at work.
In 2018, the Illinois General Assembly passed amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) that extend filing deadlines for employees alleging harassment or discrimination. Illinois employers should ensure their posting and notice requirement include information about employees' rights to be free from sexual harassment.
Following the plethora of state and federal laws is essential to protecting your business and the rights of employees.
• Michael Hyatt is HR Government Affairs Director at MRA -- The Management Association. Follow MRA on LinkedIn: http://tinyurl.com/MRAonLinkedIn, Facebook: http://facebook.com/MRAmeansHR, or Twitter: @MRA_HR_Pros.