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December 7, 2018 | HR Compliance | Posted by Bob Greene, Senior HR Industry Analyst at Ascentis

Compliance Lessons from 2018. Predictions for 2019.

2018 is just about behind us, but what’s happened legislatively and culturally this year has big implications for employers in 2019. From the president’s plethora of executive orders to the #metoo movement, the effects on the workplace will be wide and far-reaching.

1. The Affordable Care Act

The ACA is still here, but thanks to a series of presidential executive orders, it looks pretty different than it did a couple years ago. (See my other blog for more in-depth analysis). The first half of 2019 will see employers examining how they might restructure health insurance offerings as new coverage options become available. With health insurance restructuring, expect to see fundamental changes to the way employees are asked to buy health insurance. Employers will have a greater responsibility to educate their employees to empower them to make the best decisions about their health insurance coverage.

2. Minimum Wage

With a democratic majority in the House of Representatives, look for a minimum wage increase bill as one of their first acts of legislation. While some states already exceed the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, a change at the federal level would have major implications for employers in states like Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and many more. If you operate in one of these states and employ minimum wage workers, be sure to understand how an increase will affect your employees and your company’s bottom line.

3. Family and Medical Leave Act

Unless congress acts, 2019 will be the final year for companies to take advantage of a little-known tax provision. This provision (IRC Sec 45S; TCJA’17 Sec 13403) allows employers who convert a portion of their unpaid family/medical leave to paid family/medial leave to receive valuable tax credits. As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, this provision will expire after 2019, so employers will need to act quickly to receive tax credits for conversion of their family/medical leave plans.

4. #MeToo and #TimesUp

While we don’t expect much movement on anti-harassment legislation at a federal level, individual states are taking up this mantle. Look for many states to enact more stringent employee protection laws. If they haven’t already, companies would be wise to adopt learning management software that administers sexual harassment training and documents participation and mastery. Such measures can help companies maintain strong anti-harassment cultures and avoid costly lawsuits.

5. Gender Pay Equity

Perhaps a natural extension of the #metoo movement is that more people are waking up to the fact that women earn 80 cents on average for every dollar brought home by a man. Look for more states to enact legislation that prohibits employers from inquiring about current salary information from applicants and from taking punitive action against employees who discuss compensation issues amongst themselves. It’s important for employers to know the rules and what may be changing from a compliance perspective.

At Ascentis, we want to help you mitigate risk and avoid costly penalties, which is why we created this free, downloadable Year-End HR Checklist. Use this checklist to make sure you’re aware of and in compliance with the following:

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) year-end requirements
  • New training law requirements for anti-sexual harassment training programs
  • Availability of “last chance” tax credit for paid family and medical leave
  • New Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Health Savings Account (HSA) contribution limits
  • Required reporting requirements
  • Best practice processes for year-end processes

Start 2019 Strong

Download this checklist today and step into 2019 with confidence.


Please see our updated comprehensive guide to HR compliance!

Bob Greene currently serves as Senior HR Industry Analyst at Ascentis. Bob’s 40 years in the human capital management industry have been spent in practitioner, consultant and vendor/partner roles. As practitioner, he managed payroll for a 5,000-person bank in New Jersey. As consultant, he spent 8 years advising customers in HRMS, and payroll and benefits system design as well as acquisition strategies. Bob also built a strategic HCM advisory practice for Xcelicor (later acquired by Deloitte Consulting.)