Every year, employment laws change. As expected, 2021 is no exception. Employee leave policies have transformed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; thus, short-term exemptions are even more flexible and permissive than ever before. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are also hot-button topics, both at work and across society in general. So what major changes went into effect as of January 1? Let’s discuss.
Three Changes At the Federal Level
First of all, some significant workplace changes have been enacted. Minimum wages for federal contract workers have bumped up to $10.95 per hour. Employers are now empowered to better-protect their employees against identity theft. It is now possible to only include the last four digits of a worker’s social security number. Because of COVID, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission waived previously-required regulations involving the private sector. Thus, companies of a certain size must submit their EEO-1 surveys for 2019 and 2020 after March 31, 2021.
Employee-Leave Benefits Are Evolving
One unexpected byproduct of the pandemic era is that employee benefits are changing. Employee-leave benefits, in particular, are evolving more rapidly than the other perks included in a typical bundle of services. California and Colorado lead the charge in this regard, given how the virus still grips the entire country. For instance, California’s new AB 685 law will be enforceable until January 1, 2023. Employers are obligated to notify exposed employees and subcontractors in writing within one day. Meanwhile, multiple-case outbreaks give companies a little more leeway: they have a 48-hour window to inform public health officials about what happened.
New Human Resources Management Mandates
As expected, new HR mandates are now in play as well. Anti-harassment training requirements emphasize how everyone deserves to belong to a healthy workplace environment. More so than other states, California and Connecticut strive to change the circumstances that have persisted for too long. New rules, regulations, and laws regarding equal pay have been passed in both California and Colorado.
Meanwhile, minimum wage and salary exemptions are on the rise. Minimum wage requirements give average workers more money in their pockets to offset increasing cost-of-living concerns while salary exemptions thresholds are also going up.
In Colorado, the Ban the Box Act will apply to businesses of all sizes on September 1, 2021. Because of this change, potential candidates will no longer need to answer questions about criminal records or criminal histories that could bar them from equal employment.
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