The rapid implementation of remote and hybrid work arrangements over the past few years has removed many boundaries to employment allowing employees to work from virtually (no pun intended) anywhere. While remote and hybrid work arrangements have generally been successful in terms of productivity and finding the best talent, it has created a burden for HR staff who now need to understand and comply with employment laws in other states. In Smart HR’s first multi-state employer blog, we covered some of the many recruiting and onboarding considerations for multi-state employers. In Smart HR’s multi-state employer blog part 2, we examined payroll issues that arise across state lines. In this final multi-state compliance blog, we are spotlighting some general employment law compliance issues of which multi-state employers should be aware.
Most jobs require some level of on-the-job training to learn the skills and competencies required of the position. But, did you know that some states require various types of compliance training such as sexual harassment prevention training? For example, New York’s Human Rights Law requires employers with 15 or more employees to conduct annual sexual harassment compliance training that is interactive, includes examples of unlawful conduct and information on available remedies for employees who have been subjected to sexual harassment. The employer must have on file proof of each employee’s participation in the training. The law also requires all employers adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy that includes a complaint form, post a sexual harassment prevention notice in a common area and provide new hires a sexual harassment prevention information sheet upon hire.
Connecticut’s Times Up Act has similar requirements with employers required to provide new employees a copy of information about the illegality of sexual harassment and mandated sexual harassment training for all employees. California, Delaware, Illinois and Maine also have mandatory sexual harassment prevention training statutes.
Multi-state employers must assess any training requirements for employees in other states and implement a system for conducting the training.
Paid Leave Laws
There’s no federal law requiring paid sick leave for private sector employees, but many states have enacted their own paid sick leave laws. Currently, 16 states and Washington, D.C., require (or will soon require) certain employers to provide paid sick leave to employees for their own health condition or, in some cases, to care for a sick relative. Every state’s law differs concerning eligibility, reasons the leave may be used, accrual rates and waiting periods. In Washington, D.C. employees may use their “sick and safe leave” if they or a family member need services related to domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault. Maryland’s paid sick leave law also allows employees to use their leave for absences due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against the employee or the employee’s family member. Certain Maine employers must provide paid time off for any reason including emergencies, illnesses and vacations. Making compliance even more difficult are states like California with some cities that have their own paid leave laws more generous than the state law. In addition to mandatory paid sick leave laws, many states have laws requiring leave for a range of situations such as bonding and caring for a new child, adoption, blood/bone marrow/organ donation, bereavement, children’s school activities, voting and serving on a jury. Because mandatory leave laws vary considerably from state to state, multi-state employers must enact policies consistent with all applicable laws at the federal, state and local levels to ensure compliance with the intersecting and overlapping requirements.
Workers’ compensation insurance is regulated on the state level with each state having its own requirements and penalties. It’s imperative for HR staff administering workers’ compensation to understand what is required in every state in which employees work. Some examples of areas in which states’ requirements may differ include the minimum number of employees at a location that triggers the requirement for workers’ compensation, whether coverage is required for independent contractors and exemptions and exclusions to coverage. Multi-state employers may need to buy a separate policy for each state in which employees work or buy an “all-states” workers’ compensation policy offered by some carriers.
Currently, there are five states that have state-mandated disability insurance requirements: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. Puerto Rico also has mandatory disability insurance requirements. Employers in a state in which disability insurance isn’t required must provide disability coverage to employees working in any of the states in which the coverage is mandated. For example, if a Maryland-based employer with no short-term disability plan in place hires employees in New York where short-term disability coverage is required, the employer will likely need to purchase short-term disability coverage for its New York employees. This same employer must have a policy and procedure in place to accommodate an employee in New York with a disability that is covered by the New York short-term disability plan.
Meal Periods and Breaks
There is no federal law requiring employers to provide lunch or rest breaks to employees. However, many states have their own mandated break laws for lunch/meals, rest and recovery and nursing mothers. The FLSA requires employers with at least 50 employees to provide break time to hourly employees for nursing mothers to express breast milk in a clean, private space, other than a bathroom for up to one year after each child’s birth. However, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York provide protections to nursing mothers that far exceed those required by the FLSA. For example, New York employers must provide nursing mothers break time to express milk for up to three years after the birth of their child. In New Jersey, employers must offer all nursing employees, not just hourly ones, break time and an appropriate space to express breast milk. San Francisco requires all employers within city limits to provide a lactation space for employees. Other states have mandated breaks with varying rules concerning employee eligibility, break duration and compensation.
Get Smart HR
Complying with the dizzying array of state employment laws and regulations can be confusing and overwhelming. If you are a multi-state employer and are unsure about whether you are in compliance with state employment laws, or if you just need help determining how to get compliant, Smart HR has you covered. Smart HR consultants are well-versed on employment law, understand how to coordinate differing laws among states and can help you put policies, procedures and best HR practices in place to ensure all your employees are on the same page, and you are compliant with the law. Call today.