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Top Workplace Compliance Trends in 2024

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    Staying compliant isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. In 2024, new laws — even those in the states where you don’t operate — could inspire legislation that affects your company. From expanded civil rights to mandated leave policies, read what you need to know about workplace compliance trends from across the country and how to address them.

    Every regulatory strategy has an expiration date. As 2024 nears, it’s important to consider the workplace compliance trends on the horizon and how to adapt your approach.

    While not every new law will impact your organization, we don’t work in silos. Unique state rules that gain traction can emerge elsewhere. For example, several states recently banned or severely limited the use of noncompete, nonsolicitation and confidentiality agreements. Given how rampant this kind of legislation was in 2023, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see these laws gain momentum elsewhere.

    Luckily, you don’t have to wait for a new regulation to impact your business. With a grasp of the upcoming compliance landscape, you’ll know how to navigate it with confidence.

    4 top workplace compliance trends of 2024

    From benefits to background checks, the new year brings rules and updates that can transform the way we operate. Here are four of the most prominent trends.

    1. Expanded civil rights for employees

    As people push for more inclusive and equitable workplaces, expanded civil rights follow closely behind.

    Montana Senate Bill 270, for example, protects workers and job applicants from retaliation, automatic rejection and other adverse employment decisions for exercising free speech on social media. While the law outlines some exceptions, employers or their representatives can’t ask employees to:

    • disclose their social media login info
    • present their social media pages and profiles
    • divulge any personal social media, such as hidden accounts
    • and more

    The state’s unique for being the only one to not practice “at-will” employment. Since 1987, the Wrongful Discharge From Employment Act has limited companies in Montana from firing workers without a strong cause. SB 270 expands on this, emphasizing importance of social media protection across the state.

    In New York City, Section 209-A of the Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act bans height and weight discrimination in:

    • employment
    • housing
    • public accommodations

    Likewise, Michigan Senate Bill 4 amends the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect gender identity and sexual orientation in organizations with 15 or more employees.

    As similar legislation gains traction across the country, we’ll likely see a greater expansion of civil rights — and possibly a new precedent for employee protections, too.

    2. Increased screening restrictions

    Nationwide, new rules around job postings, background checks and screening restrictions transform how employers evaluate and convey compensation.

    Effective March 1, 2024, a local ordinance in Columbus, Ohio, will ban pay history discrimination for companies with 15 or more employees. Additionally, the law prohibits employers from making hiring decisions solely based on an applicant’s salary history. It also bans retaliation against candidates who don’t disclose the information. Violating the ordinance could result in fines of up to $5,000.

    Pay transparency laws are picking up steam, too. New York, Illinois and Hawaii have introduced legislation that requires employers to disclose salary ranges in job postings or during the hiring process — like during an initial interview.

    Failing to comply with these laws also carries a high price. In New York, civil penalties range from $1,000 to $3,000. Illinois, on the other hand, renders fines up to $10,000 for repeated violations.

    Both trends seek to level the playing field and address historical pay disparities. Ideally, it helps create equity, especially among women and people of color who have had fewer opportunities to negotiate pay.

    3. Paid leave and health insurance requirements

    These compliance trends speak to more than just hiring. More states are creating guarantees around time off and health coverage for current employees as well.

    Take Illinois’ Paid Leave for All Workers Act, for example, which mandates businesses give up to 40 hours of PTO every year to:

    • part-time employees
    • full-time employees
    • domestic workers

    Effective Jan. 1, 2024, the law specifically grants one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked. Companies that violate the act could face penalties of $2,500 for each separate offense.

    In the northwest, Minnesota will require all employers in the state to participate in the Paid Family & Medical Leave program starting in 2026. The initiative will allow employees to take time off for:

    • family care
    • serious health conditions
    • certain personal safety issues
    • and more

    As of now, noncompliance penalties haven’t been set.

    Effective Oct. 1, 2024, Maryland will expand its leave policies for employers with 15 or more workers through Senate Bill 828. Like Minnesota, the law requires defined time off for personal and family medical needs — including emergencies related to military deployment. Individual violations could yield penalties of up to $1,000.

    This wave of legislation stresses the importance of supporting employees through personal, family and other complex situations.

    4. Benefits for self-employed gig workers

    New laws enhancing gig worker benefits and protections are making waves on the East and West Coasts.

    In Seattle, the App-Based Worker Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance entitles certain gig workers — such as those working for Uber and Instacart — to one day of PTO for every 30 days of work completed through those apps. The coverage will extend to app-based workers at large companies on Jan. 13, 2024.

    New York City takes compensation for gig workers a step further by establishing a minimum hourly wage. Starting at $17.96 per hour for app-based delivery employees, this rate will rise to $19.66 per hour by 2025. This law faced several legal challenges, with a court ruling against the likes of Uber, DoorDash and Grubhub.

    How to budget for new compliance trends

    You can’t account for every potential rule or compliance challenge. But you can be proactive in how you manage your current resources to account for tomorrow’s hurdles. Keep these four tips in mind as you adapt your compliance strategy.

    1. Determine your exposure

    Conduct a comprehensive compliance risk assessment. It may sound daunting, but doing so will help you identify vulnerable areas and evaluate potential financial impacts. It could be as simple as asking your team questions like:

    • If we were required to share salary information in our job postings, how would that impact our recruitment process?
    • Would our current time-off policy be significantly affected by a new wage and hour law like what we’re seeing in other states?
    • How do the states and cities where we operate differ in terms of compliance, and how are they similar?
    • If we employ a lot of app-based workers, are we prepared to accommodate a new time-off requirement or a minimum hourly wage?

    2. Create a training budget

    Help keep your workforce on top of emerging compliance trends through:

    • ongoing training
    • flexible budgeting frameworks
    • well-funded employee development programs

    The right learning management software simplifies this push by making it easy to regularly train your people and help reduce your overall compliance risk.

    3. Invest in reliable compliance tech

    Don’t underestimate the power of the right tools. Investing in powerful government and compliance software helps you streamline error-prone processes and extensive reporting.

    As you narrow your list of tech vendors, a thorough request for proposal (RFP) helps ensure your HR and payroll partner can meet your current needs and adapt to the future. While your RFP should be informed by your company’s specific needs, it also should include:

    • budget limitations
    • clear expectations
    • timelines
    • goals

    Don’t forget to verify if a provider can automate processes around far-reaching federal laws, either. Paycom’s Government and Compliance tool, for example, updates based on changes to the most relevant employment legislation and authorities, such as:

    Our E-Verify® software also reduces the time and stress involved with verifying that a new hire is legally eligible to work.

    4. Set aside provisions for legal counsel

    Alongside the rest of the year’s financial planning, be sure to include estimates for legal services and — if necessary — the cost of dedicated general counsel. This will help you secure timely access to legal expertise, which helps you pivot in the face of unexpected regulatory issues.

    After all, understanding the laws that impact your operations matters, but that knowledge still needs to be backed by a licensed legal professional.

    How do employers boost their workplace compliance?

    Every area of your business houses opportunities for improvement. Since compliance can shift, the best defense against fines, audits and penalties involves continuously vetting your team members and their resources. Consider these six tips to help you comply with confidence.

    1. Specialized compliance management team

    Within your HR team, you should have representatives dedicated to monitoring for new changes and updates. This team should be aware of emerging trends, even if they don’t directly affect your company.

    Whomever you choose should consider the best way to communicate with the rest of the workforce. This can’t always be a unilateral approach. For example, C-suite executives may prefer a brief, high-end summary, whereas employees could benefit from an engaging presentation with examples, assessments and news coverage.

    2. Updated legal library

    Keep an updated legal library — ideally in a single HR management software — to give your team quick, direct access to information about the latest laws and regulations. This could include:

    Regardless, your legal library needs to be filled with relevant material. This helps ensure your HR pros have current information to make quick and informed decisions.

    3. Continuous compliance audits and monitoring

    Preparing for unexpected audits requires you to, well, expect them. Consider auditing and monitoring tools that track your compliance in real time. Your software should work seamlessly with the rest of your HR tech to ensure your data is accurate and:

    • sends automated alerts to highlight potential noncompliance
    • helps mitigate your exposure with clear and concise organization
    • analyzes employee demographic data for annual compliance requirements
    • generates reports in government-required formats

    While compliance is your organization’s responsibility, the right software helps you manage it with confidence.

    4. Streamlined document management

    Compliance depends on companywide understanding. Your organization’s HR tech should make it easy to create and distribute compliance-related documents for employees to sign and acknowledge.

    Ideally, this document management software should be secure and accessible to create a digital trail for future reference.

    5. Automated employment agreement updates

    Alongside versatile document management tools, your HR tech should allow you to seamlessly update contracts in the face of legislative updates. With automated distribution, you can quickly ensure employees re-sign updated agreements — or follow up with them if they don’t. This helps you stay ahead of any new legal requirements.

    6. Integration of workplace tech

    As you’ve probably gathered, strong compliance puts a lot on HR’s plate. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be daunting with tools to simplify tedious compliance-related tasks. Automation should bolster your policy and procedures, but you’ll also benefit from software that helps you monitor and build consistency across:

    Ultimately, compliance depends on your ability to be proactive, adaptable and accountable. These traits — along with the right HR software — will prime your organization for what lies ahead.

    And remember, compliance isn’t just a box to check. It’s a commitment to the law that helps you build and maintain a fair, equitable workplace.

    Want more ways to prepare for next year’s regulatory landscape? Watch our webinar, Workplace Compliance Trends for 2024!

    DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.