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What's New in 2024- Employment Laws & Rules

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Now that 2024 is officially in full swing, we want to help ensure you are set up for success and aware of the most important compliance updates. Below we outline some of the many employment changes that took effect in 2024. Please note that this is not an all-encompassing list. 

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The recreational use of cannabis has previously been legalized in California and Washington, and in 2024 these states have taken additional measures to fortify employment protections related to cannabis utilization.

In both Washington and California, a significant shift has occurred: most employers are now prohibited from discriminating in hiring based on an applicant's off-duty cannabis use away from the workplace or a positive result for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites on a pre-employment drug test. Non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites, stored in the body after THC metabolization, indicate previous cannabis consumption without indicating current impairment. 

Moreover, in California, employers are restricted from inquiring about an applicant's prior cannabis use or considering information, including criminal history, pertaining to an applicant's or employee's past cannabis use. As anticipated, exceptions exist, notably for safety-sensitive positions and when testing is mandated by law.

We foresee a potential trend of more states embracing similar trends in the future.

Victim Protection

Oregon has expanded its victim protection laws to encompass victims of bias. According to Oregon law, a victim of bias refers to an individual targeted in a crime due to their perceived race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin—a commonly recognized category known as a hate crime.

Under the newly expanded law, all employers are now prohibited from discriminating against an applicant or employee on the grounds that they are a victim of bias. Furthermore, employers must provide reasonable safety accommodations upon request. For employers in Oregon with six or more employees, the law mandates the provision of reasonable leave to an employee who is a victim of bias or has a minor child or dependent facing such victimization, allowing time away for related purposes like medical treatment or relocation. Notably, this marks the first victim protection law to explicitly include victims of bias.

Similarly, Nevada has bolstered its protections for individuals impacted by domestic violence. The state has extended unpaid leave to employees who are victims of sexual assault or who have family or household members encountering such victimization.

Reproductive Loss and Bereavement Leave

A growing number of states are now recognizing the need for individuals to step away from work following a traumatic or unforeseen loss within the family.

In California, employers with five or more paid employees are now obligated to provide up to five days of reproductive loss leave to their employees following a reproductive loss event (loss). This includes the day, or for a multiple-day event, the final day, of a failed adoption, failed surrogacy, miscarriage, stillbirth, or unsuccessful assisted reproduction. It is crucial for employers to uphold the confidentiality of any employee requesting reproductive loss leave, refraining from retaliating against them for seeking or taking the leave, and respecting their other rights under the law.

In Illinois, employees are now entitled to an additional amount of unpaid, job-protected leave in the unfortunate event of losing a child due to homicide or suicide. The duration of this additional leave is contingent upon the size of the employer. Furthermore, Illinois has increased the amount of unpaid leave available to employees whose family or household member fell victim to a violent crime.


Paid Leave

States have been proactive in addressing the need for regulated paid leave. 

California has heightened the amount of sick leave employees can utilize annually, increasing it from 24 hours or 3 days to 40 hours or 5 days.

In Colorado, the paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program (FAMLI), which commenced last year with employers withholding and remitting premiums, has started providing benefits to employees.

Illinois has adopted an innovative approach, granting employees the right to earn and utilize a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave within a 12-month period for any reason. In a similar vein, Cook County has transitioned its paid sick leave program into an all-encompassing paid leave initiative. Meanwhile, Chicago has revamped its sick leave ordinance, replacing it with a model offering 40 hours of paid leave for any purpose and an additional 40 hours of sick leave, effective July 1, 2024.

Minnesota has implemented the Earned Sick and Safe Time policy for employees who work at least 80 hours in a year for their employer.

Pay Transparency and Pay Equity

Typically, pay transparency laws mandate organizations to disclose pay ranges in job postings, not only offering transparency to job seekers but also encouraging open discussions among current employees—an activity protected by legal rights. When employees have insight into pay ranges, they are more likely to identify discrepancies, compelling employers to prioritize pay equity within their organizations.

In Colorado, there has been an expansion of pay transparency laws. Employers are now required to inform employees about all job opportunities (excluding career development or progressions) before they are filled, broadening the scope beyond promotional opportunities, which was the previous requirement. Additionally, Colorado employers now have added post-selection notice responsibilities. Within 30 days of the selected candidate commencing the job, employers must communicate specific information (such as name and job title) to employees regularly working with that individual. Furthermore, all eligible employees must be informed of a position's requirements for career progression, especially when it follows a regular or automatic pattern based on time or other objective metrics. This notification must encompass details like pay, benefits, full- or part-time status, duties, and access to advancement.

In Hawaii, a trio of pay equity updates came into effect at the beginning of the new year. Firstly, employers of all sizes are now mandated to ensure equal pay across all protected categories in the state, extending beyond gender to include other protected categories. Secondly, the state has shifted the standard for equal pay from requiring employees or groups of employees to be paid the same for "equal" work to defining equal pay as "substantially similar" work. Thirdly, employers with 50 or more employees must now include the hourly rate or salary range in job postings, enhancing transparency in employment opportunities.pexels-fauxels-3184301-1

Every year, there are dramatic changes in the tax and compliance requirements for employers. We at ScalePEO are here to help you through times where you need a little information, a helping hand, or a “knight in shining armor” to jump in and help solve your questions. Reach out if you have any questions or would like to set up time to chat and see if ScalePEO can help you achieve your goals.

*This information is offered for general information only. It does not provide, nor is it intended to provide, tax or legal advice.

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*This assumes our timely receipt of all data requested from you, as well as your payment of initial benefit premiums and PEO implementation fees.
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