Dying for an Emoji: New Texting & Driving Laws and Other Updates
With so many news stories flooding out of television sets, computer screens, and radio speakers every day, it can be difficult to separate the matters that affect your business the most from the noise. Even when a new law seems like it’s not applicable to your business at the surface level, many times it affects Human Resources operations and policies. As the second quarter of 2017 begins, here are the HR updates that affect your Texas business.
New Texting & Driving Laws
The majority of states have already banned texting while driving, and new legislation makes it likely that Texas will become the 47th state to ban this practice. Three dozen cities in the state already have such a ban in place, which can be tricky for drivers that pass through multiple towns on their commutes. But why does this matter to HR?
Other than the desire for a workforce that is safe at all times (not just while on company property), it’s important for business leaders to consider this law. Do you have employees that operate a vehicle as part of their regular job duties? Are there workers that occasionally drive off property to pick up lunch or to run a quick company errand? Regardless of the law in your specific city, it would be wise to place language into employment agreements banning texting while driving during any activities related to your company. Not only is it a safe practice, but it can help avoid future legal consequences.
Healthcare has been dominating the news cycle in recent weeks, as a formal attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a new health insurance system failed. Despite this delay in policy change, lawmakers have continued to push rapidly forward and have prepared a new attempt at a replacement system.
While a deal will not be reached prior to a two-week recess for congress, HR employees must still be braced for future changes that could be proposed and voted upon quickly. Comfort can be taken in the fact that any ratified changes won’t take place until 2018 at earliest, and more than likely will be 2019 or later. In other words, you will have time to digest what changes mean for your specific business and employee group.
Increasing H-1B Visa Applications
Each year, a total of 85,000 H-1B visas are made available to allow foreign workers to be employed in the U.S. Last year, the government received 236,000 applications for these visas in just one week. Given the uncertainty of new regulations being proposed to limit foreign workers, applications for H-1B visas will be higher than ever in 2017.
If your business relies on employing foreign workers that use this type of visa, it will be more difficult than in past years to have an application approved. This means alternative sources of staff will need to be found. Even if you don’t employ workers that are on a visa, any modification of this regulation will change the makeup of the available workforce as well as necessitate updates to HR policies.
Your One-Minute HR News Roundup
Human Resources is an increasingly complex field that changes shape often with each new court decision, regulatory change, or policy update. Here are additional updates on our radar:
- The IRS has released new mileage rates for 2017. Even if most of your employees don’t drive on the clock, employee agreements and handbooks should be updated.
- Lawsuits stemming from retirement plan fees are on the rise. An internal analysis can avoid this situation for your business.
- Inaccurately-written job descriptions are causing organizations to accidentally violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Does your employee handbook consider hugging as sexual harassment? The U.S. Court of Appeals is set to let a jury decide if it is grounds for a violation.
- As Baby Boomers continue to work past the traditional age for retirement, age bias lawsuits will likely increase.
- A historic ruling has banned workplace LGBT discrimination, setting the stage for the Supreme Court to weigh in.
- Massachusetts has become the first state to ban employers from asking for previous salary figures when hiring. Expect more states to follow suit in an effort to improve pay equality.
HR Updates That Affect Your Business
Sifting through the countless news stories that vie for your attention at every turn can be enough to make most people stop paying attention. But HR professionals aren’t most people. By keeping up with the seemingly non-stop changes that affect your Human Resources department, your business can continue to operate efficiently.
For an HR consulting partner that can determine what these updates mean for your workforce, contact us today.