As we head into 2021, there are several compliance actions to consider as the complexity of employment law continues to grow.
With a new administration set to take over the White House, the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and a host of new laws, employers will have their hands full in 2021.
Here are seven items to be mindful of over the next 12 months.
1. Tracking COVID-19-Related Laws
The most impactful aspect pandemic regarding employment law is paid leave.
While the Families First Coronavirus Response Act ended on Dec. 31, 2020, if employers decide to continue to provide leave through March 31, 2021, employers are eligible for tax credit for the leave provided.
Meanwhile, some jurisdictions have extended coronavirus-related paid leave, including Pittsburgh and San Jose, Calif. Employers will want to review their jurisdictions to determine whether emergency paid leave has continued into 2021.
But paid leave is just one aspect of the pandemic to consider. Among the others:
- Work at home as an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation and other ADA accommodation developments
- ADA coverage of mental health conditions
- Medical inquiries/testing of employees for COVID-19
- Can you legally require vaccinations of your employees?
- Anxiety, depression, and other mental illness as employees deal with the prolonged uncertainty
- Accommodations for employees working while kids are homeschooling or dealing with a hybrid school model
Other issues include onboarding, physical workspace, timekeeping, wellness, tax withholding from various locations, security, hours of work, morale, managing remote workers, productivity, cybersecurity and more.
Pandemic considerations will continue to be at the forefront for employers in 2021.
2. Biden’s Impact
How will President-elect Joe Biden change the HR landscape in 2021?
While we previously covered some of the major actions Biden could try to implement as he takes office in a previous Employment Law News blog, there are other items for employers to consider.
First, there’s the potential for nationwide guidance and restrictions regarding COVID-19. The Trump administration mostly left those decisions to states. But Biden may take a broader approach to combatting the virus.
Other employment law areas where Biden could wield his influence include:
- Possible undoing of Trump Administration rules and regulations, going back to Obama-era policies
- Expanding and fine-tuning the Affordable Care Act
- Increasing the federal minimum wage
- Raising the salary threshold for overtime
- Making it easier for unions to organize
- Rescinding Trump administration Executive Orders on immigration and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
As always, a transition of power in the executive branch leaves plenty for employers to watch.
3. EEO-1 Data
Because of COVID-19, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year waived its requirement that private sector employers submit EEO-1 data.
But in 2021, private sector employers with 100 or more workers — as well as employers with 50 or more workers and at least one federal contract or subcontract worth at least $50,000 — must submit their 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 surveys.
While the deadline for submission has yet to be set, it is expected to be after March 31, 2021.
4. Harassment Training Requirements
Though less prevalent of late, the effects of the #MeToo Movement continue to impact the world of employment law.
In 2021, that means anti-harassment training. Two states stand out— California and Connecticut.
California’s deadline for anti-harassment training, which was set in 2019, expires Jan. 1, 2021. State law allows employers to hold this training remotely for individual employees or groups.
In Connecticut, the state extended its fall 2020 deadline for employers to provide some or all of their employees with anti-harassment training. The new deadline is Jan. 1, 2021.
Also, all Connecticut employers, including family-only businesses, must provide two hours of training to supervisors. Employers with three or more workers must also give nonsupervisory employees two hours of training. Learn more about Connecticut’s harassment-training requirements.
5. Equal Pay Requirements
Another result of the #MeToo Movement has been equal pay laws. Here, too, we will focus on two states: California and Colorado.
Employers in California must file their first yearly EE0-1 report with pay data for 2020 to the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing by March 31, 2021. Learn more about California’s equal pay reporting requirements.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, the state’s new equal pay law has several requirements for employers. Among them:
- Avoid making compensation decisions based on an employee’s sex or other protected status
- Create a written job description for each role in their organization
- Post open positions, including job descriptions and salary range, before filling those positions.
- Not ask applicants about their previous salaries
- Retain each employee’s job description and pay history as long as they’re employed, and for two years after
6. Family Leave Payroll Deductions
Lastly, we come to family leave payroll deductions.
Originally enacted in 2019, Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Insurance Plan creates a system that will allow eligible Connecticut employees access to paid leave.
Starting Jan. 1, 2021, Connecticut employers must begin payroll deductions to fund this new program in order for the program to charter starting January 2022. These deductions are based on employees’ wages determined by the Social Security contributions base.
Employers participating in the program could begin registration in November 2020 through the Connecticut Paid Leave website.
7. Location Audits
For multi-jurisdiction employers, auditing locations should be a regular task.
Determining when new labor law postings have been issued, minimum wage changes and dates for paid leave laws is crucial for maintaining compliance.
Most often, employers look to the start of the year and middle of the year for new laws. But posting updated happen all year long, and many jurisdictions don’t follow the same schedule for leave laws and minimum wage.
Consider regular location audits as 2021 progresses.
Maintaining employment law compliance is a year-round task. And each year brings new challenges for employers.
The items listed above are but a slice of the ongoing issues that constantly need attention. It’s incumbent upon employers to stay on top of the latest developments in employment law to ensure compliance with the latest laws and regulations.