With every new year come new laws and changes to existing laws that affect employees and employers across all 50 states. Do you know which new laws will affect your employees and your company? If you don't, you should. Fortunately, Adam Ochstein, founder of HR consulting firm StratEx, has provided a cheat sheet to get you started. Here's his rundown of new and altered laws you need to know about right now:
1. You have more time to file ACA forms.
Employers now have an extended deadline for filing form 1095-B or 1095-C, certifying health care coverage for their employees during 2015. You can file these forms as late as May 31, if filing on paper, or June 30, if filing electronically. As a reminder, your employees must demonstrate that they had at least basic health care coverage during 2015 or pay a penalty to the IRS.
If you take advantage of these extended deadlines, one result may be that employees won't have their 1095-B or C forms in time to file their individual returns by the April 18 deadline. The deadline for income tax filings is extended this year because Washington, D.C. will celebrate Emancipation Day, which commemorates the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, on Friday April 15. Employees who file their taxes before receiving form 1095-B or C can simply file their taxes without those forms, which are not a requirement.
2. You may be required to provide paid sick leave.
Four states have so far enacted laws requiring employers to provide paid sick leave: Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, and Oregon. But even if your company is located outside those states, you may still be required to offer paid sick leave if you're in one of 20 U.S. cities that have also enacted similar laws. These include New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Oakland, California, among many others. Even if you're not in an affected state or city, you may want to consider making plans to provide paid sick leave as these laws are gaining in popularity and are likely to spread to more cities and states.
3. You may need to offer commuter benefits.
New York and San Francisco already have laws requiring employers to provide commuter benefits. Washington, D.C., is in the process of passing a similar law, and Chicago may be next. Depending on your location, you may be legally required to offer employees commuter benefits in the near future.
Even if changing laws don't force you to do it, offering commuter benefits may be a smart move. Employees are particularly fond of these benefits, especially since they usually come tax-free. Many employers, especially larger ones, offer this benefit as a matter of course, so in today's tight labor market, you may want to consider offering commuter benefits to help you hire the talent you need.
4. You may have to stop asking job candidates about their criminal records.
"Ban the box" laws and policies--so called because they require removing the box to check if an applicant has a criminal conviction--seem to be gaining momentum in states and cities across the country. Most of these laws so far apply to state, city, or county employees only, but some cover all employers. If you make a practice of asking about criminal convictions on your job applications or in job interviews, keep a close watch on changing legislation in your community. You may have to stop asking one day soon.
More changes may be coming.
In addition to these new laws, there are a number of initiatives in various stages of congressional review that could change things even more. Among them are proposals to raise the minimum wage, to require employers to offer time off as compensation for overtime worked, and to require paid vacation time for employees. Ochstein recommends setting news alerts for these laws so you'll know well in advance if one or more of them will affect you.