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2016 HR Trends to Watch

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Yes, you read that right … It’s mid-July 2015 and I’m talking about trends for 2016.

Far too often organizations find themselves scrambling and playing catch-up to comply with changed or new regulations. We leave ourselves open to risk by not discussing, planning and implementing measures far enough in advance to be ready when its time to enforce and report. We hurt our reputations by not being ready to respond to requests from senior management and employees. We waste our time and resources scrambling to get advice from attorney, vendors and peers.

Let’s do it differently for 2016! Let’s start planning now for 2016. Let’s be ahead of the game and ready to tackle the newest requirements for our organizations.

Here are 4 big things happening now that will probably have big impact on your organization  in 2016:

Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

The SCOTUS decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States happened just a few weeks ago. Inevitably, this decision is going to lead to more same-sex marriages … And you know what that leads to??? Qualifying events!! Are you prepared for how you will handle qualifying events for health benefits for same-sex couples? Are you prepared for the additional related costs?

Caitlyn Jenner

The decision of former Olympian Bruce Jenner to change his gender, transition to a woman and live as Caitlyn Jenner has been front page news for months now. It has brought the subject of transgender identity front and center. This will lead to more transgender employees coming forward in our workplaces, requiring organizations to be prepared to make accommodations and address issues that may arise. Do you know the legal guidance and requirements from the EEOC or in your state on transgender accommodation? Are you prepared for how you will handle requests from transgender employees? Are you prepared to address discomfort or discrimination issues that may arise?

The Affordable Care Act

SCOTUS also ruled on the Affordable Care Act a few weeks ago, upholding the provision that allows individuals to obtain subsidized coverage from federal exchanges. This eliminated the chance of repeal of the law or another delay of full compliance. Employers will have to report on employee 2015 hours and eligibility to the government in 2016. Are you tracking employee hours and eligibility to get ready for this? Are you monitoring enrollment activity and obtaining waivers to defend against possible penalty assessment? Are you certain your plan and premiums meet the requirements of the law?

Another part of the ACA which employers need to be prepared for is the Excise Tax. Also called the “Cadillac Tax”, this will begin assessing up to a 40% tax charge on plans that exceed certain limits. With the law itself having stood several SCOTUS reviews and survived, those who don’t like the ACA are setting their sites on this tax. It can be lessened or eliminated in Congress without involvement of the Court or the President. Hopefully, Congress will find middle ground on this before it goes into effect in 2018. In the meanwhile, employers need to have a plan for how they’re going to address it if moves forward without change. Are you aware of and monitoring your limits to know what your potential tax liability could be?

OT for Salary’s under $50,400 per Year

Earlier this month, the President added a wage and hour regulation into the Federal Register which would require employers to pay OT to salary employees earning $50,400 or less. Unless something drastic happens, this will become wage and hour law beginning in 2016, with all employers required to comply. Are you looking at your employee salaries and hours worked to determine your risk? Are you estimating the costs of this change to make decisions on how to staff and compensate your employees?

The legal landscape is always changing. And it impacts how we conduct business. We cannot be reactive to what is happening around us. We have to be prepared and ahead of the curve. These are just a few examples to look out for as 2015 continues to fly by and 2016 arrives before we know it. Look out for more examples. And share them when you find them to help others.

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