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.

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.

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