Several states throughout the nation continue to experience significant change as it relates to employment. As of July 1, 2016, still more changes will be going into effect, and employers will need to be ready. These changes, affecting minimum wage and paid sick leave (PSL), can be expected to continue throughout the country.
In response to concern over the need for a living wage, State and municipalities are raising minimum wages and creating their own PSL laws. A great example is in Los Angeles where hotels are affected by both the LA Hospitality ordinance and a separate minimum wage ordinance. Keeping up with these changes can be tricky for employers, especially those with multiple locations throughout the state, or the nation. Here are a few best practices that may help employers stay compliant as it relates to managing these ongoing changes.
1. Subscribe to Free or Paid Legal Updates
With the frequency of changes that can happen at any time, and the vast number of locations to consider, it may be helpful to subscribe for free or paid legal updates. These updates will be sent to you with advance notice of what to be prepared for, such as informing leadership of the necessary wage increases, adjusting budgeting accordingly, scheduling payroll changes, and ordering minimum wage posters to be posted by the new effective date if posting requirements will be applicable. Receiving legal updates from trusted regional or national employment law attorneys ensures that you understand which jurisdictions are making which changes, whether or not those changes apply to your business, and on what dates. They will also ensure that you are receiving information timely so that you are not finding out about important changes late, and that you remain in compliance.
2. Review and Update Handbooks and Salary Schedules
Now is a good time to review and update your handbooks and salary schedules. When revising your policies regarding minimum wage and paid sick leave, it’s important to determine if you will implement those policies across the entire state of California to make administration simpler, or if you would prefer to implement changes based upon each municipality. Once you are certain which ordinances affect the pay and sick leave benefits of your employees, update your handbooks and pay schedules to reflect the new changes as soon as possible. You may also want to simultaneously update your new-hire packets to ensure that all communication as it relates to these policies is in compliance, and that you are providing the required notices to your employees. Think about using an online tool to keep everyone in the know, e.g., in-house wiki’s, payroll and HRIS, etc. Also, two other best practices to be aware of: make sure that employees acknowledge receipt of the updated information and translate notices into alternate languages in compliance with legal requirements.
3. Educate Management on Changes
As you are already well aware, many states and cities have undergone several changes over the last few years related to employee pay and benefits, and managers may start to get overwhelmed by which changes pertain to their employees, which do not, and when they become effective. It’s especially important to educate those managers and leaders accountable for employees in multiple states and make sure that they are aware if your company has elected to provide the same benefits and entitlements to all or if they are different by locale. It’s critical that they be educated on the reasons for the policy decisions, effective dates, and the required communications that will need to be provided. Try to provide as much advance notice as possible so that adjustments to benefits and payroll can be made.
The scope of these changes can seem overwhelming, and it may feel like there isn’t adequate time to adjust. It can also be confusing when attempting to determine which laws apply to your municipality, especially for those employers with multiple locations. For employers concerned that they may not be in compliance as they navigate these changes, you may want to consider a full review of all of your pay structure and paid sick leave policies, making sure that they align with the new local laws. It may also be wise to consult outside legal counsel. Subscribing to legal updates, updating your handbooks and salary schedules, and educating management are three key strategies to help keep you on the right track.