Top 10 Laws, Regulations Affecting You in 2016 (Part 2)

This is part 2 of our blog on new laws and regulations that can affect your business in 2016.

Family leave expanded a little
A school activities law has expanded the right of employees to take protected time off from work when searching for a school or childcare provider.

The law, which applies to employers with 25 or more employees, requires employers to allow an employee to use eight hours in a calendar month, with a total of 40 hours in a calendar year, to find a school or a licensed childcare provider and to enroll or re-enroll a child, as well as time off to address childcare provider or school emergencies.

Inappropriate use of E-Verify
Effective Jan. 1, employers are barred from using the E-Verify system to check the work eligibility status of an existing employee or an applicant who has not received an offer of employment, as required by federal law, or as a condition of receiving federal funds.

Stiffer workplace safety penalties
Federal OSHA fines will increase for the first time in 25 years, with fines almost doubling from current levels.

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 exempted OSHA from increasing its penalties to account for inflation. The new budget, signed into law on Nov. 2 by President Barack Obama, contains an amendment that strikes the exemption.

Now, OSHA is required to issue an interim final rule increasing its penalties to account for current inflation levels, which would raise proposed fines by about 80%.

This would mean the maximum penalty for a willful violation would rise to about $127,000 from the current $70,000. The adjustment must occur before Aug. 1, 2016. In subsequent years, OSHA also will be allowed to adjust its penalty levels based on inflation.

OSHA’s new filing requirements
OSHA is expected to roll out a new rule that requires employers with 250 or more employees to electronically submit injury and illness records to OSHA on a quarterly basis. Also, some smaller employers will be required to electronically submit their OSHA Form 300A, which summarizes their annual injury and illness data, on an annual basis.

Paid sick leave
This law actually took effect on July 1, 2015 and new amendments took effect on July 13. Under the law, California employees are entitled to one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

The changes included clarifying who is a covered worker; alternative methods of accruing paid sick leave, other than one hour for every 30 hours worked; clarifying protections for employers that already provided paid sick leave or paid time off before Jan. 1, 2015; and providing alternative methods for paying employees who use paid sick leave.