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Monday, January 21, 2019

Top 7 Human Resource Resolutions for Alabama Employers in 2019


1. Prepare now for new “White Collar Exemptions” Under the FLSA

In March the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is scheduled to release for comment a new proposed rule for "Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees" under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The current annual threshold will likely increase from $23,660 to approximately $30,000 (as opposed to the $47,476 threshold proposed in 2016). Prepare to repeat the 2016 job description exercise, but not as painful. 

2. Research if your Company a Potential Joint Employer

The DOL is considering a new proposed rule, that could change the test for determining whether an entity is a joint employer. The proposed DOL changes to its regulations concerning joint employment under the FLSA are intended to update and clarify the 60-year-old legislation.

3. Update Policies Related to Harassment and Discrimination

In the age of #MeToo, some companies still don't understand the importance of having air tight harassment policies and a written systemic process to investigate allegations. Scheduling employee and management training, providing all employees a legally compliant signed policy, and dual reporting channels to make a report, are all critical. Then know how to conduct an attorney-client privileged legally defensible workplace investigations of allegations. The goal is to provide the employer an affirmative defense. Expect new EEOC Harassment guidelines to be released shortly. 

4. Employee Health Insurance and Wellness Choices will Continue Evolving

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on Dec. 14, 2018 declared the individual Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate to be unconstitutional. So, the future of the ACA is uncertain. Employers should begin to look now at new plan options. The EEOC announced that it will likely propose new Wellness regulations in June 2019, after the last were overruled effective January 1, 2019. Also look for the highly anticipated final Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) Regulations to be released in early 2019.

5. Update/Adopt Employee Arbitration Agreements

Employers with employee arbitration agreements may wish to adjust their agreements as needed to boost enforceability. Others may wish to adopt them. The Supreme Court has given arbitration agreements a full green light of enforceability.

6. Update Noncompete/Confidentiality Agreements

Many Alabama Employers have not yet updated their agreements to bring them into compliance with the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, the 2016 Alabama Non-Compete Act or the Alabama Trades Secrets Act; all of which provide forward thinking employers multiple remedies against data thieving employees.  

7. Update FMLA Policies, Forms & Procedures

On Aug. 28, 2018, the DOL released new opinion letters on the use of Family and Medical Leave Act leave time and the applicability of “no-fault” attendance policies or attendance policies with point systems as they are applied to the FMLA. Employers should consider reviewing their FMLA policies in light of these opinion letters and the increasing abuse of intermittent FMLA leave. In September 2018 the DOL released updated FMLA forms and certification notices, which employers should be using now. The forms are available at DOL.gov.

In 2019 resolve to be alert to these 7 issues and prepare to make the necessary changes to your policies and procedures. And Have a Blessed 2019!

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP office in Opelika, AL and West Point, GA can be contacted at teden@constangy.com or 334-246-2901.