The President and
"Even though you have a Republican president, a
That's not to say there aren't some significant bills with the potential to affect NH businesses hanging out there, slowing wending their way through.
Changes are being proposed at the federal and state level that could affect family medical leave provisions. Currently the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) states that certain employees must be allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family reasons, such as a personal illness or taking care of a newborn, without fear of losing their jobs.
"You could basically have employers juggling all these programs for their employees," says Stevens. "The good part is, most good employers recognize that there is a need for employees to take the time off and that they are probably going to be taking the time off anyway." She says securing income supplementation through the family leave insurance would be good for the employee and may keep them from quitting. "In
Though not a part of the FMLA, Reidy says there is another proposed bill in the NH legislature that would mandate employers offer a certain number of days of paid sick leave per year. If passed, it may affect a business's bottom line, but the absence of such a law could affect a business's ability to compete with states like
Protecting Workers from being Penalized
Two NH laws that employers should be aware of protect employees from being disciplined for making requests, Reidy says. One that went into effect
Another law, which went into effect in 2015, states if an employee requests information about his or her wages or complains about his or her wages, or seeks to disclose his or her salary to co-workers, he or she can't be disciplined. "A lot of employers have rules that say you can't disclose your wage to other employees, and now employers can't do that," Reidy says.
A bill has been submitted to include gender identity as a protected class under existing state anti-discrimination laws. A similar bill stalled in the State House in early 2017, but has come back. There is no federal law protecting against discrimination on the grounds of gender identity. Although some states and municipalities have adopted such laws, NH has not. While NH's law protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation, it does not offer protection against discrimination based on gender identity. "It was close," says Reidy of the first go around with this bill. "If I had to guess, I think it will pass if gender identity is better defined. I think that was the main criticism of the bill."
While changes to these worker protection laws may not have a huge impact overall for businesses, Reidy says, it is still something they will have to be aware of and grapple with in the coming year.
Employers also this year will likely have to spend some time figuring out what to do about paying overtime to employees. There was a great deal of activity in the last two years of the
"The problem is," Reidy says, "employers, including employers here in
Reidy says employers who provided raises so employees met the threshold or changed their status to hourly instead will now have to look carefully to see if they should have given raises or changed their status because of exemption because of duties and decide whether to leave them alone or change pay or status back to what they were before the regulation went into play. "I think this is a hard one. ... Most employers will not do that," he says.
Reidy says he suspects that those employees treated as exempt will remain exempt. The question will be what to do about those whose job duties meet the exemption test, but didn't meet the salary requirement under the proposed changes. Should they now go back to being treated as exempt employees? "So there is some uncertainty in that regard. But a lot of employers-whatever changes they made or didn't make last December- they will probably just stay put," Reidy says.
Speaking of pay, Stevens says that employers should be prepared to talk about minimum wage this year. "Because again," she says, "you're seeing a lot of states and municipalities enacting minimum wage laws that are different from the federal law. We in
And reaction in the business community is mixed, Stevens says. "Most employers would tell you that, 'hey, we pay more than minimum wage anyway in
Stevens says employers are more concerned about how an increased minimum wage would affect wages generally. "Because then you end up with wage compression," she says. "You have somebody who is brand new and you hire them at
Businesses are also keeping an eye on changes to health care. "Federally, health care is obviously in flux right now and there is a lot of uncertainty, although the Affordable Care Act is in place until next year," says
If the mandate repeal goes through, Dowal says it's hard to say what the result will be specifically for business, other than it may mean fewer people having access to affordable insurance, which tends to affect the economy as a whole. "Really it's just keeping an eye on that, and it changes so frequently," she says. "I guess that change is the only guarantee."
There is also a bill in the NH House requesting that a commission be established to study the feasibility of a single-payer health care system in the state. Dowal says this is basically like Medicare, but it would cover everyone. "If that passed, you wouldn't have a need for employer coverage and that would be a huge change for the way we get health care in
Also on the horizon are possible changes to real estate regulations, says
"That's been, over the last five to 10 years, a driver of a lot of real estate transactions," says Hastings. "The folks who are selling properties, instead of taking a significant tax hit, will roll their proceeds into additional property and defer payment of the tax."
"I have not seen either of the federal tax plans [from House or
Hastings says NH has a few such projects in the works, including
The EB-5 Regional Center Program was due to sunset earlier this year but received an extension to
"And that's a real challenge for employers who are trying to enforce their drug free workplace and other drug and alcohol policies," Reidy says. "Given our proximity to these other states, you can certainly have someone living in one of those states and working in
Reidy says he often reminds clients that pot is still illegal under federal law, and they can follow the federal law. He tells them to treat marijuana as they would alcohol. While alcohol is legal, businesses can still have policies that say you can't come to work under the influence.
On another front,
Computers need to review their policies and provide training to all employees and managers, says Chatfield. "If you haven't done training with your workplace, get it done. And that needs to start with the top. There has to be buy-in from the top, by the most senior management and the most senior executives. They themselves need to get trained first and foremost and then they need to provide that training to their staff. It will be more impactful and effective if they can say, T went through this training, and I take this seriously.' I've already seen an uptick with my clients saying can I get training on the books.. ..The smart employers are being proactive."
Chatfield suggests that companies take stock of their privacy and data security and upgrade if necessary.
Chatfield predicts this year may actually result in some pleasant changes for NH businesses. "I think we're going to see fewer new regulations or at least a streamlining of regulations that hopefully will bring more ease of compliance," Chatfield says. "When it comes to regulations, you want to invite compliance rather than making them so complex and so numerous [that] you just kind of want to throw your hands up and say T just can't comply with everything.'"
Source : https://insurancenewsnet.com/oarticle/rules-and-laws-to-watch-in-2018