Changes for 2016 Keeping HR Pros Busy

Only Human
By Betsey Nash, SPHR, SHRM-SCP ~

As we emerge alive on the other side of “open enrollment,” human resources professionals are turning our attention to new regulations and employment laws that will take effect in 2016.

Betsey Nash
Betsey Nash

We are meeting with “C-Suite” execs and their small business counterparts to ensure that our companies will be in compliance.

Cal Chamber has put out a good summary of what’s coming, and the HR association and your local Chambers of Commerce will ask attorneys to make presentations in January. So I urge you to access the information. Here, from the Cal Chamber, are some highlights to put on your radar:

  • School Activities Leave (SB579): Your employee may now take protected time off to deal with child care issues (not just school issues), for employers with 25 or more employees.
    National Guard Leave Protection (AB283): Military leave protections are being extended to those in the National Guard.
  • Gender Pay Equality (SB385): Expands the current law to prohibit an employer from paying any of its employees less than someone performing “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility.”
  • Piece Rate Pay (AB1513): Employers must pay employees for rest breaks, cool down periods, and other unproductive time at the minimum hourly rate or more.
  • Workers Comp: Several laws were passed addressing prescription coverage (AB1124), notification of employee rights (AB438), information posted to medical provider websites (SB342). And, the DWC-Form1 claim form has also been revised, so download the new one, starting Jan. 1.
  • Professional Cheerleaders (AB202): They are employees, not independent contractors.
  • Wage and Hour: We have several new laws that increased penalties and expanded regulators’ enforcement rights, so take the time to audit your pay, classification, and overtime practices to be sure you are in compliance.

This is not an exhaustive list, nor are my summaries even close to including everything you should know. But I did want to let you know about the cheerleaders.

We are still tracking the Federal Government’s plans to raise the exempt/overtime threshold, though I have not heard anything new in some time. If we do see it in 2016, I am guessing the raise will not be the highest estimate now projected — around $50,000 — but any amount over $41,600 will mean that California’s minimum pay rate for exempt employees is too low. I do believe this will happen sometime next year providing another reason for you to review your wages and classifications.

What else is on HR’s mind this time of year? I mean besides whether we should allow alcohol at the Holiday Party. A recent SHRM (a national HR organization) survey says we are most concerned with developing the next generation of leaders. This concern is directly linked to our need to manage the loss of our key employees. The Baby Boomers, with the skills and institutional knowledge, are retiring, which is also reflected in the poll.

Also keeping us up at night is how to maintain competitive benefits when the cost of health insurance alone can bankrupt a company. Fewer individuals are going bankrupt because of protections provided by the Affordable Care Act, but as long as health insurance is tied to the backs of businesses, costs will rise and businesses will stagger under the burden.

If you want to attract and retain the best and the brightest employees, you’ve got to offer the best benefits. This is a busy time of year for HR. Many of us will be drinking at our Holiday Parties.

Betsey Nash, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is a long-time human resources professional, past president of the Human Resources Association of the Central Coast and owner of Nash HR Services, based in SLO. She can be reached at: [email protected] Only Human is a regular feature of the Tolosa Press.