Legislation is constantly in flux and therefore critical to track, particularly for BSCs. During the upcoming Virtual Human Resources Summit, Paige McAllister, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Vice President of Compliance at Affinity HR Group, teases out her session with insights regarding legislative updates pertinent to the industry and how leaders can better equip their employees to adapt with the changing landscape.
BSCAI: How has legislation relative to BSCs changed since the COVID-19 pandemic on both a state and national level?
PM: “This is a harder question to answer from an employment law standpoint. I don't think there's been anything that is specific to BSCs since COVID. During COVID, there were things such as required time off. However, since COVID, there really hasn't been anything like that. During COVID, OSHA had impacts. In health and safety, there's a little bit more guidance about containing germs, having disinfectants and hand sanitizers, etc. So much of what they required during COVID, such as the social distancing, has gone away.”
BSCAI: At a high level, what are some changes BSCs should expect in the coming months?
PM: “There are a lot of different things that are going on, and some of it is on a federal level. Everybody's going to encounter different challenges and changes depending on where they are. I will say it's important to know if a company operates in multiple states, because they need to know what's going on in each one of those states.
For example, there's a lot of conversation about restrictive covenants and what can and cannot be allowed. That would be non-compete, non-solicitations, non-disclosure agreements, and for various reasons. There are more restrictions as to when those covenants can be put in place, especially for BSCs.
Some companies have everybody sign a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement. But, when you're talking about cleaners, you having a non-compete or non-solicitation probably wouldn't work, because you can't tell a cleaner that they can't work at a competition, because that's impacting somebody's livelihood.
Pay transparency and pay equity is another big topic, where you have states and cities that require the pay range, or salary range, to be put in any job posting. That applies in some states but it's also in some cities. That means that it's required to be a good faith wage estimate. The pay range can't be zero to infinity. It has to be a good faith estimate, whether that's an hourly range or a salary range.
Another area is mandated time off. There's paid and unpaid time off. A lot of states have it. Illinois made a lot of news about a law that is expected to be signed sometime this month, requiring paid time off for any reason. It mirrors a lot of sick time off laws that other states or counties or cities have.
Additionally, there's the mandated, paid family leave. There's several states that have implemented paid family leave options that are run through the state. It's not necessarily a cost to the employer, because a lot of the cost is taken out of payroll taxes charged to the employee. However, it adds more time that employee may need to be off and protects that time.
One last thing I'm going to just mention is the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which is regulated and overseen and enforced by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The board under President Biden is very employee friendly. We know that he's a big friend of the unions and always has been.
That also applies not only to employers that have unions, but to also nonunion employers as well, because employees have rights and employers can't kill those rights. A big one is Protected Concerted Activity: basically an employee's right to speak out on the idea of improving work conditions. How does that policy come about? You can't have a blanket confidentiality policy. You have to allow employees to talk about their work conditions. They don’t have complete freedom to talk about anything, as in, they can violate other things, like market strategies or client information. But, they can talk about their salary or if it's too hot where they work, or “I don't like my manager.” Those things are protected.
That impacts things such as social media use, conversations, and discussions. The NLRB has come out saying that they are looking at handbook policies. A few years ago, they released very detailed guidelines about where they looked at handbooks of nonunion workplaces, and other places, and they made them change the language because the language could look like it's impeding those employees’ rights. So it's not that it's a new law, it's just that the NLR changes as the makeup changes. What they choose to focus on changes.”
BSCAI: Why is it important for BSCs to stay up to date on legislative changes?
PM: “I will say that they need to be prepared for the changes. Some of these things sneak up on us. They may pass a law that is effective immediately. You may think, ‘Wait, where did that come from?’ But there are things that you can do to prepare for those changes.
You also have to update policies and procedures, and you have to notify employees. That could create somebody coming in to investigate. I talked about those investigations, where if an employee makes a complaint, or a wage an hour complaint, and they think that it's legitimate, they're going to come in and start looking. If they start looking, what are they going to find? They will look at your policies and your procedures, and check that you have the right posters up.
What started out as an employee complaining because they didn't get paid overtime can give them a them a reason to dive into everything. It’s really is important to stay up to date and to be as prepared as possible, because it's too hard to get caught up once you get behind.”
What can BSC business owners do to keep their employees informed of these changes?
PM: “What I recommend is, the more critical the information, the more ways you should try to get it to your employees. You could email them, you can text them, you could do it as a pay stub attachment, or you can have it printed in the pay stub. If people are paid via direct deposit, you may be able to add a memo section on their pay stubs. You can put the announcement on an intranet and have managers or supervisors go over it during their weekly meetings with employees. If it's a big change, you can call a company meeting. There's a lot of different things that that you can do. This also depends on how big and how critical the change is. If it's something minor, then I think sending a memo is totally fine.
The more critical it is, the more options you want to give people to hear about it. You want to make sure they get the information. If it's something that is truly critical, then you want something signed off by the employee to acknowledge that they got it. Or, again, send it out multiple ways, so that you can show that you did everything you could to get that information to the employee. This is in addition to posting new notices and posting things that need to go up.”
BSCAI’s third annual Virtual Human Resources Summit is a must-attend event featuring four interactive and engaging sessions. You do not want to miss this opportunity to join the conversation, hear from human resources experts and take home valuable insights from peers. Register now for the BSCAI Virtual Human Resources Summit.