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8 Employment Law and HR Compliance Challenges for 2019


One of the biggest challenges employers (especially small businesses) face today is remaining compliant with various employment and HR laws.

The last few decades have seen an unprecedented number of legislation passes affecting employers and workers, and recent years have also seen an uptick in these laws taking effect.

Last year, we highlighted several HR compliance issues that were going to impact employers. With the new year almost here, let’s explore 8 employment law and HR compliance issues companies will be facing in 2019 (and beyond).


The last several years have seen state and local governments enact various laws that address paid leave for workers. This has caused a lot of confusion for employers who need to comply with laws at each level or risk compliance issues.

In 2018 alone, both New Jersey and New York had paid leave legislation take effect, and more states are expected to follow in the years to come. Employers will need to continue to stay up-to-date with all paid leave laws that are enacted in states and municipalities where they do business.


Another area of employment law that is changing at the state and local level of government are minimum wages. While the federal minimum wage has been unchanged for almost a decade ($7.25), many states are taking it upon themselves to boost wages to aid workers.

New York is currently on their way to a $15 minimum wage, and New Jersey is hoping to pass legislation in the near future that will eventually get the minimum wage in the state to $15, too (the state’s minimum wage is set to increase to $8.85 on January 1, 2019).

But even local municipalities are adding their own minimum wages that employers operating in the area would have to comply with. Once again, employers need to stay updated on the various minimum wage changes to ensure compliance at the state and local level in 2019 and beyond.


One of the biggest compliance shifts for 2018 will also be critically for employers in 2019. The rise of the #MeToo movement has caused significant changes throughout the business world, with employers significantly altering their approach to prevention and training.

Additionally, legislation on workplace harassment has been passed on some states and municipalities, including New York and New York City. These laws outline various provisions that employers will have to comply with including policies and training.

As we move into 2019, employers must continue to make workplace harassment prevention a priority to ensure a safe, healthy working environment for all employees.


Another area where legislation is growing at a rapid pace is around reasonable accommodations, especially at the state and local levels. Areas that have been addressed by laws at various levels of the government include pregnancy, breastfeeding while at the workplace, domestic violence, and many more.

Additionally, other accommodation requests are becoming more common that can cause confusion for both employers and employees. One such example are service and emotional support animals at work. Small employers shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to HR compliance and risk management experts if they aren’t sure how to handle a request that could fall under reasonable accommodation laws.


A growing trend in recent years at the state and local levels has been the increase in “ban the box” legislation. These laws prevent employers from asking about a candidate’s criminal history on initial job applications. Some legislation prohibits employers from asking these questions until after a first interview or even until an employment offer has been made.

Currently 33 states, over 150 cities, and the District of Columbia have adopted ban the box legislation, with more expected to join over the next several years.


One of the bigger HR and employment-related concerns today is pay equality. To address this issue, numerous states and municipalities have passed pay equity laws. New Jersey was one such example in 2018, when they passed legislation that was intended to be one of the nation’s strongest pay equity laws.

Another way state and local governments are battling pay gaps are through salary history bans. These laws prohibit employers from asking for or looking up a candidate’s past salary, which proponents say will help reduce wage inequality between men and women, as well as minorities. New York City’s salary inquiry ban is one example.


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) also made last year’s list mainly due to the uncertainty surrounding the law with the Trump administration in office. Despite efforts to undue ACA laws and provisions, this landmark healthcare legislation still must be complied with for employers to avoid fines and penalties.

The Trump administration has taken some actions to undue certain provisions of the ACA as well as offer alternatives to individuals and groups. However, what 2019 has in store for the Affordable Care Act and healthcare in the United States is still very much uncertain. For this reason, employers must ensure compliance with all ACA laws while keeping up with any legislative updates that may come.


Perhaps the biggest issue small employer faces with employment laws is how often existing legislation gets updates, as well as the frequency of new laws getting passed. For small business owners, it can be overwhelming to keep up with all legislative news at the federal, state, and local levels.

But failing to maintain compliance with any aspect of a law can result in serious fines, penalties, and lawsuits for employers. Working with HR and risk management experts can help small businesses ensure compliance with laws at every level of the government. This includes new laws that get enacted and updates to existing laws that could impact an employer.


HR compliance can be time-consuming and stressful for small business owners, yet it is incredibly important for these companies to remain compliant with all employment-related legislation.

Small businesses that are struggling with HR compliance can look for strategic HR partnerships to help ensure compliance. One such solution is a professional employer organization (PEO), who can offer small business leaders access to various compliance and risk management professionals who can help keep the business up-to-date with all legislation.

As we move into and through 2019, employers need to stay updated with all developing HR and employment law news.

Want to learn more about PEOs? Check out our eBook, How Well Do You Know PEO? This eBook provides an overview of the PEO industry as well as helpful information for brokers and employers!

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