New 2016 Laws You Should Know About

Employment laws are always evolving, and sure enough, several new California laws went into effect on January 1, 2016. As a member of the American Staffing Association, we receive regular updates which we thought we’d pass on to you. Here are a few new 2016 laws you should know about as you continue to operate your business:

According to Lexology, the Fair Pay Act requires employers to pay employees equally who perform “substantially similar work,” including in other divisions. Your company must be ready to defend potential claims from employees who compare their pay with that of colleagues in a different division, business unit, or department. To reduce the risks of equal pay claims, your organization should audit employee job duties, responsibilities, and pay across the company, and possibly develop a record-keeping system that tracks pay decisions.

Another law now in effect prohibits companies from discriminating against an employee who asks for an accommodation for a disability or religious belief or observance, regardless of whether the accommodation request was granted. You should revise your accommodation policies to indicate that any adverse act based on a mere request is not permitted.

The E-Verify System law prohibits companies from using the federal E-Verify system to check the employment authorization status of existing employees or job applicants who have not received an offer of employment, except in certain limited circumstances. If your business violates this law, it may be fined up to $10,000 for each violation.

Another area of caution, warns Lexology, has to do with after-hours email. Technology has blurred the line separating work and nonwork time. This has, in turn, made it increasingly difficult to accurately account for compensable time—which, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, includes work “permitted” by you, the employer. While you generally are not required to compensate employees for work time you did not request and of which you were not aware, you may be hard pressed to argue that you did not know about (or permit) work conducted on your company’s own email system.

To help reduce exposure to a wage and hour lawsuit involving after-hour work using the company’s email system, you should consider denying after-hour email access to nonexempt employees who do not have a need for such access. Alternatively, you could consider deactivating access to the email system during nonwork hours for nonexempt employees. You should delineate exactly when employees are expected to attend to after-hour issues and when they are prohibited from performing any work after clocking out.

Also, did you know that federal law generally does not regulate firearms in the workplace? It’s up to you to be aware of workplace gun laws at the state level. You don’t want to be held liable for failing to provide a safe workplace, yet employees could be carrying firearms in their vehicles.

Misclassification of employees is another area to watch out for in 2016. The Department of Labor has increasingly been investigating misclassification of workers as independent contractors. It has also changed the standards for exempt employees by doubling the minimum salary necessary for a worker to be classified as “exempt” from overtime regulations. According to Lexology, “many employers will have to make significant changes to how employees are compensated and potentially classified.”

New 2016 laws you should know about might make for some dry reading (wouldn’t you rather read about new hiring techniques?), but they could keep you out of trouble. We wish you success in implementing these in your workplace.

Click here or call (714) 993-1900 to request an employee or discuss a workforce management issue.

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