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Action on employment law shifting to states

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Just because Republicans have their hands on all the levers of political power in Washington doesn’t mean they will be able to advance a cohesive agenda. Just witness the chaos accompanying GOP efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

But while the federal government spins its wheels, states are rushing to enact legislation affecting employment law.

Addressing the Society for Human Resource Management Employment Law and Legislative Conference in Washington last week, attorney Jonathan Segal of Duane Morris said states are far more likely to tackle the following issues than the feds are:

Minimum wage: Most states already exceed the federal $7.25 per hour rate; 19 states raised the minimum wage last year.

Note: Many municipalities have enacted their own higher minimum wages. In fact, cities and towns increasingly set the highest bars for employment law compliance.

Exempt salary threshold: The Department of Labor’s never-enacted rule that would have more than doubled the $23,660 overtime salary threshold is probably dead. However, California and New York recently upped the exempt employee overtime cut-off on their own.

In California, the threshold hits $43,680 this year (almost as high as the proposed federal level) and will exceed $62,000 by 2022. New York established a sliding scale for its threshold—$44,200 in New York City, slightly less in the suburbs and $39,000 in the rest of the state.

Expect other high-cost-of-living states to follow suit.

Predictable schedules: There is almost no chance federal law or regulations will require employers to set schedules well in advance and pay employees a premium if their shifts suddenly change. However, several states already require employers to provide work schedules in advance or pay workers for on-call time.

Look for similar legislation in coming years, especially from states where attorneys general have begun investigating predictable scheduling practices: California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine and New York.

Segal said other HR issues are also ripe for states to step in where the feds fear to tread, including paid sick and family leave, pay equity and gender identity bias.

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