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Governments love to implement new laws on January 1.  It’s as though they look at their calendars and say, “You know what? Open enrollment has just finished and handbooks are still being worked on.  A great time to start all of our poorly conceived and ambiguous laws is right at the end of the holiday season lest HR people think they can take time off and relax!  Work is good for them.” 

This coming year is no exception.  Here is a very incomplete summary of many the state and federal laws that will be taking effect around the country on January 1, 2020. 

  • Higher Salaries!  The federal salary level test rises to $684!  Employees classified as exempt under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) will need to be paid at least $684/week, up from $455/week.

  • California’s New Consumer Protection Law.  The wide-ranging California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was written to give web-site visitors, including employees and applicants, the ability to see the data that is collected on them by companies.  The law impacts employers in California, requiring them to provide notice to employees and applicants of the data collected and to provide a method for requesting deletion of the data. 

  • Washington Sets Standard for Paid Family Leave!  Eligible employees in Washington state can now receive up to 12 weeks of paid time off for a serious medical condition for themselves or qualified family members; 16 weeks following the birth of a child or if they had a personal and family triggering event in the same year; and up to 18 weeks if there were complications with the pregnancy.

  • Illinois Mandates Sexual Harassment Training.  Beginning in 2020 employers must provide annual training to all employees that complies with the state’s training (content) requirements.

  • Massachusetts’ New Paid Family Leave Law.  Employers in Massachusetts have already begun deducting from employees’ pay to fund the new PFL benefits.  On January 1, 2020, eligible employees in the state can now start to use those benefits to receive paid time off to care for sick family members, to bond with a newborn child or following foster care placement, manage the affairs of a family member in the military, and to address their own serious illness. 

  • Illinois Joins Growing List of States that Allow Recreational Marijuana. Going further than many states, Illinois has decriminalized marijuana usage and possession (up to a certain limit).  Employers can still drug test however.  11 states and counting.

  • California Now Prohibits Hairstyle Discrimination.  California isn’t alone in seeking to stop employers from having dress code policies that prohibit natural hair, afros, braids, twists and locks.  Hairstyle is now protected under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.  

  • New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Increase. As created, the NYS PFL gradually increases weeks of paid time off available to employees .  On January 1, 2020 the annual number of weeks allowed will increase to 10.  In 2021 it will increase and cap at 12.  

  • New Jersey and Illinois Join States Prohibiting Employers from Inquiring About Previous Salary History.  In an effort to seek pay equity without regard to race or gender, Illinois and NJ now prohibit employers from asking applicants about their wage history.

  • Oregon Now Requires Accommodations for Pregnant Employees.  Employers with at least 6 employees must now provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, child birth, or related conditions.

Join us on January 16 to preview these exciting new laws and more! 

We’ll also review what you need to know from 2019!

Thompson Coe and myHRgenius Tip of the Week is not intended as a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


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Kevin M. Mosher

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