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New Year and 88 New Compliance Requirements for 2019

Year-end is a time typically focused on endings, and for HR that means finalizing benefits enrollment, processing performance appraisals and completing payroll filings and Affordable Care Act (ACA) reporting. But equally important is to prepare for new compliance requirements that will ring in the New Year. And this year, there are a lot of them!

The states took the lead in addressing workplace issues. There are 88 new compliance requirements in 27 states that employers need to be aware of, on topics ranging from wage and hour, payroll and leave and benefits, to training, discrimination and workplace safety. And though there was no increase to the federal minimum wage, states and localities stepped up to fill the gap with 43 minimum wage increases.

A New Year also brings new posting requirements. Be sure to review and update workplace posters at both the federal and state levels.

Here are the key employment and labor law requirements that become effective at the beginning of the New Year.

Key Topics

Minimum Wage

By far, increases in the minimum wage constitute the greatest number of new requirements, representing approximately 50 percent of all requirements that become effective in the New Year. The hourly minimum wage rate will increase in 20 states and 26 localities effective January 1 (with the exception of minimum wage increases in New York, which take effect on December 31, 2018). California led the way, with not only an increase in the state minimum wage, but also minimum wage increases taking effect in 17 localities.

The Minimum Wage Rates by State and Municipality 50-State Chart provides information on state and local minimum wage rates.

Discrimination and Harassment

Discrimination was a key focus of lawmakers in 2018, and they enacted many new anti-discrimination and anti - harassment requirements, driven by the #MeToo movement and high-profile revelations of sexual harassment. California, Delaware, New York and Washington alone imposed 12 new requirements related to discrimination and harassment, set to take effect at the beginning of 2019. California led the nation in taking action in this area by offering new protections that prohibit discrimination against those in military service, the abuse of professional relationships to sexually harass or discriminate and the use of confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements involving sexual harassment claims. Delaware imposed new requirements on certain employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training.

Leave and Benefits

Eight states (Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Washington) and the federal government enacted 10 new requirements related to leave and benefits. Leave requirements cover issues ranging from paid sick and family leave to military leave. The Leave Laws by State and Municipality 50-State Chart provides an overview of major leave requirements at the federal, state and local levels.

New health care benefits requirements include association health plan rules issued by the federal government and New Jersey's new individual health insurance mandate in the wake of the repeal of the ACA individual mandate. Arizona has enacted a health care continuation coverage law, while Maine requires coverage for preventive health care.

In addition to the minimum wage; discrimination and harassment; and leave and benefits, employers should be on the lookout for additional changes at the state level related to payroll withholding and tax filing requirements; salary history inquiry laws; predictive scheduling; overtime; lactation breaks and various workplace safety requirements.

Federal and State Developments