Stay on top of pressing state, local concerns impacting HR.
A new study identifies the leading concerns for U.S. companies and how state and local lawmakers are addressing them. Not surprisingly, number one is sexual harassment prevention. State legislators everywhere are grappling with this issue in the workplace. In fact, there are a record number of state proposals on harassment, proposing solutions such as detailed arbitration agreements, expanded protections for non-employees, and stronger prevention efforts such as mandatory policies and interactive training.
Evolving drug laws are second on the list. Currently, 46 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation legalizing marijuana or Cannabidiol use with or without prescriptions; and last December, the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp, was signed into law. Some states have begun to protect workers with prescriptions for medical marijuana via anti-discrimination law; although employers in these states may still be able to terminate or deny employment to anyone whose marijuana use could put them or others in danger on the job.
Next on the list is paid leave; and laws addressing this are populating state and local legislative agendas across the country. To date, 10 states and the District of Columbia have paid sick leave laws; and Michigan has passed a law that will go into effect later this year. While Massachusetts was the only state to enact a paid family leave law last year, several other states plan to follow suit soon. For the most part, these laws provide leave for both qualified family and medical reasons.
Issue number four is health insurance, a seemingly constant concern for employers everywhere. With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the federal individual mandate penalty was made zero starting this past January. States worried that this change would be linked to premium increases and decreased coverage. As a result, some states began to consider state-level individual mandates as a preventive measure. You need to know how a state- or district-level mandate may affect employee demand for health insurance coverage in your region.
The fifth top issue involves state retirement plans. According to research, 53% of small business owners don’t have a formal retirement savings program. Several states have sought to address this gap with state-facilitated savings programs using one of four models: auto-IRA, multiple employer plan (MEP), marketplace, or voluntary payroll deduction IRA. To date, 10 states have enacted laws creating a retirement savings program for private sector workers.
While keeping up with legislative and regulatory issues at the state and local level can be challenging, it is essential for C-suite executives, upper management, and HR professionals to be informed. You don’t have to go it alone. National organizations as the American Health Care Association, LeadingAge, and AMDA-The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine have state chapters or affiliates that track issues of interest to you.