The laws and regulations impacting today’s businesses are ever-changing. Compliance is essential from an HR standpoint and is integral to preventing ugly penalties and costly litigation. 2017 is shaping up to be a particularly dynamic year with several new employment laws taking effect.
Employee Paid Sick Leave
The U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule requiring federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to employees who work on or in connection with certain federal contracts. Here are the details:
- Federal contractors must offer up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year
- Employees can use it when they’re sick or when they need to provide care to a sick loved one
- It’s designed to protect public health and give hardworking individuals time to recover from illness
- It will apply to over one million working families
This rule went into effect on January 1, 2017, and must be followed moving forward. Keep this in mind when determining which type of contract to enter into with employees.
New I-9 Form
Immigration reform is a hot topic. Since March 8, 2013, employers have been using the same I-9 form which concerns the immigration status of new employees. Beginning January 21, 2017, the updated version of the I-9 form must be used, making all previous versions invalid.
The primary goal of this updated I-9 form is to minimize technical errors that often result in fines, and to simplify the overall process of checking immigration status. Be sure you’re using the updated version by January 21, 2017, to avoid issues.
New OSHA Rule Regarding Silica Dust
As you might imagine, OSHA hafs a few changes up its sleeve. A new rule will go into effect in June 2017 that specifically applies to two industries — Construction and General Industry and Maritime.
OSHA has issued a final rule to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica.
In short, employees in these industries can only be exposed to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air during an eight-hour shift. This is far less exposure than the current standards permit. Employers must also offer medical exams to workers with a high exposure to crystalline silica.
Reporting Workplace Injury and Illness
Finally, there’s a slight change to the way employers must submit injury and illness reports. OSHA states, “The new rule, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that they are already required to record on their onsite OSHA Injury and Illness forms.”
The logic here is to improve the quality of OSHA’s data and to maximize workplace safety. Please note that this only applies to two types of businesses:
- Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the record-keeping regulation
- Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries (e.g. construction, manufacturing, etc.)
Always keep your eye on new employment laws impacting your business. You never know when a change could have a monumental impact. This is the best way to stay compliant and avoid unnecessary headaches.