Live From #SHRMLeg 2017: State and Local Employment Trends to Watch

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With the White House and both chambers of Congress controlled by Republicans, HR is waiting to see what changes the federal government might hold in store for employers this year. But it would be a grave mistake to forget about all the action at the state and local level as well.

Jonathan A. Segal, a partner at Duane Morris LLP in Philadelphia and managing principal of the Duane Morris Institute, recently spoke at the Society for Human Resource Management’s recent Employment Law & Legislative Conference (follow it on Twitter at #SHRMLeg) about the top state and local legislative developments that should be on everyone’s radar.

Minimum Wage

The federal minimum wage has not increased since it was raised to $7.25 nearly eight years ago, in July of 2009. In the absence of a federal increase, many states and localities have raised their minimum wages well above the federal minimum, with some of them scheduling increases to rates as high as $15.00 per hour.

Segal asked attendees how many thought the minimum wage should be more than $7.25. Almost all of them raised their hands. Then he asked how many thought the minimum wage should be less than $15.00. Again, almost everyone raised their hands.

As HR professionals prepared to visit their representatives in Congress, Segal told them they should stress how state and local minimum wage increases could impact their competitiveness and result in pay compression at the lower end of the pay scale.

Minimum Salary for Exempt Employees

While the Obama administration’s plan to double the minimum salary for employees exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime requirements remains in legal limbo, states are increasing the minimum salary necessary for employees to be exempt from their own overtime laws.

California and New York both have salary minimums that are tied to the state minimum wage, Segal noted; with their minimum wages scheduled to increase over the coming years, so too will their salary minimums. Meanwhile, legislation has been introduced in several states that would increase the minimum salary for overtime-exempt employees in response to assumed federal inaction.

Predictable Scheduling

Another trend to look out for is predictable scheduling laws, according to Segal. So far, only two cities, San Francisco and Seattle, have passed ordinances that require employers to give employees advanced notice of their schedules and to compensate them if their schedules are changed. However, others may not be far behind, Segal warned. Possibilities include not just cities like New York City and Los Angeles but also entire states like California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine and Oregon.

And Finally…

HR professionals also should monitor emerging state and local laws involving paid time off, “ban the box,” pay equity, expanded protections for LGBTQ employees, right to work, marijuana and more.

Which employment and labor law trend is of greatest concern to your company? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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