As we begin December, it’s important to remember what are the new employment related laws and regulations that become effective on January 1, 2019, as well as additional “Best Practices” for the new year.
In Connecticut, one significant employment related law is effective on January 1 – Pay Equity. Employers will be prohibited from inquiring or directing a third party (e.g. staffing agency) to inquire about an applicant’s compensation history, unless the applicant voluntarily discloses it. The bill does allow employers to seek information about the elements of a candidate’s current compensation structure, such as bonus and/or stock options – as long as the value of those elements are not included.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the overall concept behind the bill is to prevent further inequities in pay between men and women. The Hartford Courant reported that women earn approximately 83 cents for every dollar men earn.
How should Employers prepare?
Before this bill becomes law on January 1, 2019, ensure:
- That all managers and those conducting interviews are properly trained as to what can and cannot be asked during an interview.
- Staffing agencies and other outside recruiters (especially those from outside of Connecticut) are aware of the new requirements.
- That no employment application, job board or other electronic Applicant Tracking System (ATS) inquires into an applicant’s compensation history.
Across the border In Massachusetts, the minimum wage will begin a climb to $15 per hour starting at $12 per hour on January 1, 2019 and ending at $15 per hour on January 1, 2023.
After last month’s election and the Democrats’ strong showing in Connecticut, increasing the minimum wage appears to be on the agenda, so Connecticut employers should prepare for that possibility, as well as the possibility of a paid FMLA act in this upcoming legislative session.
Although the 2018 legislative session did not come away with new sexual harassment training regulations, this is always a critical best practice for employers. The current Connecticut training regulation is still in-force – all employers with 50 or more employees must ensure that supervisors are provided with two hours of sexual harassment prevention training within six months of hiring or being promoted into a supervisory role.
Employers are encouraged but not required to provide training to supervisors who have previously attended approved training.
My top five best practice picks:
- Have an Anti-Harassment policy in your employee handbook and disseminate it throughout the organization at least annually. Include that retaliation for bringing forth a complaint will not be condoned.
- Train all employees on what sexual harassment is, how to recognize it, what to do if it occurs and what will happen if an investigation is conducted. Conduct training annually.
- Ensure that employees have a safe and unbiased complaint channel to use. Don’t require that employees can only lodge a complaint with their supervisor.
- Train supervisors on the organization’s expectations of them, and their specific role in preventing sexual harassment. Include that the work environment is a professional environment, and unprofessional behavior is not allowed.
- Investigate any and all claims and complaints immediately.
Employee Attraction and Retention in a Hot Job Market
As my blog post of this past September highlighted, its getting difficult to attract and retain top talent because the job market is extremely hot, and wages are beginning to rise.
A couple of quick takeaways – key ingredients in the retention of workers are:
- Solid onboarding programs
- Strong training, employee development and career pathing programs
- Competitive pay and benefits
If your employees, especially key employees haven’t discussed their pay and the possibility of a raise yet, rest assured it’s coming. The increase in wages suggests that this has already begun.
What should employers consider:
- Ensure that base pay and other compensation programs are competitive
- Identify through rigor your key employees
- Determine if and when to reward those key employees – before they ask!
Keeping these regulations and best practices in-place will help employers have a solid kick-off to 2019.