The latest webinar in the GovDocs quarterly webinar series – A Year in Review: 2018 Employment Law Trends and Insights – took place Dec. 12, 2018. In the 45-minute panel discussion, we covered some of the year’s biggest stories, including our insights and observations from clients and other HR and compliance professionals.
Here are the top three takeaways:
1. 2018 Elections Have Directly Impacted Employment Law Legislation For 2019
In the 2018 elections, Democrats won the House and Republicans won the Senate. Also, President Trump remains in office until at least 2020.
The House will surely attempt to advance democratic positions, but all of this will be through the lens of gaining greater power in 2020. Routine actions, like increasing the debt ceiling or passing spending bills to keep the lights on in the federal government, will likely become major political battles, as both democrats and republicans will refuse to concede until they win a political victory in the vote. Because of this, we do not expect to see any big federal changes regarding employment law in 2019.
Based on election results, we expect to see some big changes at the state level in 2019.
First, the New York election resulted in a democratic “trifecta” – when one party has the majority in the state senate, house and governorship. New York does not have a state paid sick leave law, so it is possible we will see paid sick leave become a priority in 2019. The state also does not preempt local governments from enacting laws, so we could potentially see paid sick leave activity there as well.
The Illinois election also resulted in a Democratic trifecta. Because the state does not preempt local jurisdictions from passing minimum wage and paid sick leave laws, this means they will likely be topics discussed at the capitol in 2019, and it will be interesting to see what action the state takes. In addition, local jurisdictions might be encouraged to step up.
Other states with significant post-election results are Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Missouri and Texas. To hear more about the changes in these states, listen to our webinar recording.
Cook County, IL, has its own minimum wage and paid sick leave laws that apply to all municipalities – 135 to be exact – in the county, unless those municipalities opt out. Out of that 135, 110 have opted out of minimum wage, and 110 have opted out of paid sick leave. The 110 municipalities are not the same for both, as some have opted out of minimum wage and not paid sick leave, or vice versa.
The Cook County election ballot included two advisory questions for voters:
- Shall the minimum wage in your municipality match the $13 Cook County minimum wage law for adults over the age of 18 by July 1, 2020, and be indexed by the Consumer Price Index after that?
- Shall your municipality match the Cook County earned sick time law, which allows for workers to earn up to 40 hours (5 days) of sick time a year to take care of their own health or a family member’s health?
The results? About 85% of voters voted “yes” to minimum wage, and about 90% voted “yes” to paid sick leave. Because the questions were advisory, they will be used as a tool to guide those in office by assessing people’s opinion on issues. Now that voters have spoken, we expect many of those 110 opt-outs to move their status to opt-in.
2. Minimum Wage Increases Have an Unexpected Result
Ever heard of wage compression? It occurs when new hires are paid the same or more than current employees in the same position, or when the pay difference between levels shrinks so higher-level workers feel the pay advantage is no longer significant.
As minimum wage rates increase, so does wage compression, particularly in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries, where wage gapes between employees are already small. Because of this, many employers are feeling the pinch, along with low employee morale, decreased productivity and higher turnover.
3. #MeToo Hits the Workplace
In 2018, #MeToo has led to an increase in workplace harassment laws and postings. A few include:
- Delaware Sexual Harassment Notice
- Illinois Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
- New York City Sexual Harassment
- New York City Sexual Harassment (Spanish)
- New York City Sexual Harassment Fact Sheet (Spanish)
For additional details on our webinar, “A Year in Review: 2018 Employment Law Trends and Insights, view our webinar recording.