Must-do HR Updates for 2017

(Note: This post was written in conjunction with Madeline McDonnell and Adriana Popovich, both StratEx HR Account Managers.)

Happy New Year! As we do each year, we’ve put together our list of “Must-do” HR updates for a successful and friction-free coming year. Please read through these changes and implement them wherever they apply to you.

1. Review your Handbooks

With the New Year comes changes to legislation and specific legal updates at the federal, state and local level. Make sure to revise any updated policies or procedures in your handbook in order to remain compliant in the coming year.

2. Update Labor Law Posters

Remember to order new federal and state labor law posters for 2017 if you have not updated them since last year. This will ensure all new and applicable labor law notices are posted for your employees’ reference. Check out this link for more details about posters and how to order them.

3. Stay on top of ACA Reporting

ACAIf you were an Applicable Large Employer in calendar year 2015 (50 or more full time/full time equivalent employees) you are required to report in 2016. Make sure you have a plan in place for issuing and filing 1094/5-C forms.

Important Update: The IRS released a notice extending the deadline for furnishing the Affordable Care Act Form 1095-C and 1095-B statements to employees and covered individuals from January 31, 2017 to March 2, 2017. However, the deadline to file the ACA information returns with the IRS has not been extended. The deadlines remain February 28, 2017, if filing by paper, and March 31, 2017, if filing electronically.

StratEx offers ACA reporting services. Please reach out to your HR Account Manager with any further questions on this subject.

4. Implement Sick Leave Legislation

Several states, cities and counties will have new paid sick leave legislation go into effect starting in 2017.

For example, Illinois, Vermont (employers with 6 or more employees) and Spokane, Washington have new paid sick leave legislation taking effect on January 1, 2017. Other locations following suit include Arizona, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Saint Paul, Minnesota (employers with 24 or more employees), Chicago, Illinois and Cook County, Illinois, effective July 1, 2017. Beginning January 1, 2017 covered federal contractors will also be required to provide paid sick leave to employees.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your HR Account Manager regarding which state and local leave laws may be affecting your location(s) and/or your business.

Two businesspeople sitting indoors with coffee laptop and folder5. Stay tuned: DOL Salary Threshold Postponed

In May 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new overtime rule, which was scheduled to take effect December 1st, 2016. The new rule was introduced to raise the minimum salary threshold an employee would need to earn in order to be exempt from federal overtime regulations from $23,660 to $47,476. The rule also included an adjustment of the salary threshold every three years. Ten days before the implementation date, a federal judge in Texas placed an injunction on the DOL’s new rule.

For now, the implementation of the rule is on hold while the court determines both whether the DOL has the authority to create the rule and the rule’s validity. Employers are not required to implement the updated threshold until the case makes its way through the court and the final decision is announced. Stay tuned!

6. Start Using the New I-9

On November 14th, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an updated Form I-9 that must be used by all employers by January 22nd, 2017. These changes have been put in place to facilitate electronic completion of the form, such as drop-down lists, calendars to fill in dates, and on -screen instructions for each field. StratEx will have the updated Form I-9 available in eStratEx by the deadline. The current form may be used until January 22nd, 2017. You can access the updated form and instructions here.

7. Prepare for EEO-1 Reporting Updates

Effective in 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a proposal to collect additional data about employees’ pay on the Employer Information Report (EEO-1).

Every year by September 30th, most federal contractors and private employers with at least 100 employees report their employee numbers separated by job category as well as by sex, race, and ethnicity on the current version of the EEO-1 report. The new proposal will build on the existing structure to require reporting on the number of employees within specified pay bands.The pay data will provide insight into pay disparities across professions and strengthen efforts to combat pay discrimination.

The EEOC will compile aggregate data, which will also help employers evaluate their own pay practices to prevent pay discrimination within their organization. Although the new reporting is not due until March of 2018, we highly suggest conducting an equal pay audit to cut down on any potential risk or inquiries into your pay practices.

8. Create policies around Medical Marijuana

Currently, over 20 states, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana to treat serious health conditions. However, these laws do not change an employer’s right to maintain a drug-free work environment. For additional questions concerning client handbooks and/or drug testing policies, please reach out to your StratEx HR Account Manager.

9. Implement OSHA Changes

distribution-large2016 OSHA Checklist
On November 1, 2016, employers should have:

Find more details on these requirements here.

2017 OSHA Changes

  • Electronic Reporting & Anti-Retaliation Provisions
    • On January 1, 2017, employers are required to electronically submit injury and illness data online instead of recording the information on their onsite OSHA forms.
    • Anti-retaliation provisions have also been added to the electronic form to prevent employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness.
    • You can read more about this topic on the OSHA website here.
  • OSHA Updates Walking-Working Surfaces Standard for Preventing Slips, Trips, Falls
    • On January 17, 2017, OSHA will be implementing a final rule updating the general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standard for preventing slips, trips and fall hazards.
    • You can find more information on this topic on the OSHA website here.

The new year always includes changes in employment law. Please keep these topics in mind and make updates wherever necessary to keep your company as friction-free as possible. And don’t hesitate to contact an HR Account Manager at StratEx with any questions on these, or any other HR topics.

Must-do HR Updates for 2016

Happy New Year! Now, to begin your company’s new year as friction-free as possible, read through these must-do HR updates for 2016 and implement changes wherever they apply to you.

Review your handbooks

employeehandbook_pop_6467-resized-600The new year means changes to legislation and specific updates at the state level. Make sure to revise any updated policies or procedures in your handbook in order to remain compliant.

Paid Leaves

Be aware that several cities and states will have paid sick leave laws go into effect in 2016. For instance, Oregon’s new paid sick leave law takes effect on January 1, 2016 and Tacoma, WA has enacted paid sick leave legislation effective February 1, 2016.  San Diego, CA, Montgomery County, MD, and other various localities are following suit if they haven’t already, so it is important to reach out to your HR Account Manager regarding your location(s) and what state/local leave laws may be affecting your  location(s) and what state/local leave laws may be affecting your business.

Commuter Benefits

  1. New York City – Effective 1/1/2016 under the New York City Transit Ordinance, all New York City employers with 20 or more full-time employees are required to offer pre-tax transit benefits. There is a 6-month grace period on this ordinance, so penalties will not be sought until July 1st, 2016.
  2. Washington D.C. – Effective January 1st, 2016, the transit benefit requirement applies to employers with 20 or more employees. Employers can offer either a pre-tax transit benefit, an employer-paid benefit program with a transit pass or reimbursement of vanpool/bicycling costs, or employer-provided transportation in a vanpool or bus.

Many large companies across the country already offer commuter benefits. Looking ahead to 2016, more states will introduce new commuter benefit requirements, and more employers may begin to offer this benefit to their employees to keep up.

Ban the box

Be wary of “Ban the Box” or “Fair Chance” laws that are popping up in various cities and states in order to ensure that criminal history does not play a part in making hiring decisions for new hires until later in the recruitment process. These laws prohibit employers from asking criminal history questions on job applications or in initial interview situations (exact requirements depend on each state law or ordinance).

There are already over 100 cities and counties with these laws, and now in 18 states as well! For example, New York City’s Fair Chance law just went into effect in October 2015 and Oregon’s new Ban the Box law will take effect on January 1st, 2016. Please reach out to your HR account manager to discuss how to safe guard your hiring practices from potential liability associated with these new restrictions.

Labor Law Posters

Remember to order new federal and state labor law posters for 2016 if you haven’t updated them since last year. This will ensure all new and pertinent labor law notices are posted for your employees’ reference. Check out this link for more information. http://www.govdocs.com/

ACA Reporting Plan

ACARemember if you are an Applicable Large Employer (50 or more FT/FTE employees) you are required to report in 2016. Make sure you have a plan in place for the 1095-C form.

Important Update: The IRS recently released a notice delaying the deadline for furnishing the Affordable Care Act Form 1095-C and 1095-B statements to individuals by two months –from February 1 to March 31. The IRS also delayed the deadline for filling the statements with the IRS from February 29 to May 31 if filing by paper and March 31 to June 30, if filing electronically.

The notice also includes guidance to individuals who do not receive a 1095-C or 1095-B before they file the 2015 tax returns.

StratEx offers ACA reporting services, so please reach out to your HR Account Manager with further questions on this subject.

Pending Federal Legislation

There are several federal acts that are currently under review. Be on the lookout for final decisions or updates throughout the year. If you are a StratEx client, we will alert you as we are made aware of these decisions or updates.

  1. Working Family Flexibility Act – Amend the FLSA to provide compensatory time for employees in the private sector.
  2. EEOC Transparence & Accountability Act – The EEOC must maintain up-to-date information on its website regarding charges and actions.
  3. Guaranteed Paid Vacation Act – This act would guarantee 10 days paid vacation per year.
  4. Pay Workers a Living Wage Act – This would increase the Federal minimum wage.
  5. DOL updates regarding the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – This act proposes an increase to the salary basis for exempt employees from $23,660 per year to $50,440 per year. A yearly calculation would be implemented to update the salary basis. Other potential updates are including non-discretionary bonuses in the calculation of an employee’s salary and updates to the duties test. The DOL will likely release these updates early in 2016. Since the grace period to implement these changes will likely be brief, start by reviewing your current classifications and job descriptions to prepare for the application of any changes. For information from the DOL on this subject, you can reference this factsheet.

The new year and employment changes are coming– keep these things in mind and make updates wherever necessary to keep your company as friction-free as possible. And don’t hesitate to contact your HR Account Manager at StratEx with any questions on these, or any other HR topics.

Note: This blog post was written in tandem with Madeline McDonnell, StratEx HR Account Manager.