Blog > work

Employment Law Changes For 2020: What American Workers Need To Know

While American workers ring in the new year by toasting champagne and making resolutions, their employers will be scrambling to ensure that they’re in compliance with the more than two dozen federal and state laws set to go into effect on January 1, 2020. Here are some of the most noteworthy. 

Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime Provisions

By raising the standard salary level from $455 to $684 a week, this rule will make all employees who earn less than $35,568 annually—or some 1.3 million workers—eligible for overtime pay of at least time-and-a-half under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The salary threshold hasn’t been raised in more than 15 years, and many workers argue that this hike still isn’t high enough. 

California Assembly Bill 5

More commonly referred to as AB5, this California law will require companies to reclassify independent contractors as employees, offering them health benefits and paid time off, among other forms of compensation. The legislation is meant to safeguard gig-economy workers, two million of whom call the Golden State home, but it’s already cost some their jobs. Vox Media announced plans to cut hundreds of freelancers ahead of the implementation of AB5. 

New Jersey Salary History Ban Law

Today In: LeadershipNo longer will job candidates be subjected to questioning about how much they make, or at least not in New Jersey, where Assembly Bill 1094 will prohibit employers from asking applicants about salary history, including wages and benefits. By preventing companies from screening out or making offers to prospective employees based on past earnings, the Garden State hopes to promote pay equity. 

Nevada Assembly Bill 132

On January 1, Nevada will become the first state to bar employers from refusing to hire candidates for testing positive for marijuana in drug screening tests. While a few lines of work are exempt from the law—among them drivers, EMTs, firefighters and anyone else whose use of the substance could put the safety of others at risk—AB132 is meant to combat employment discrimination in the state, where medical and recreational marijuana are legal. It has also inspired other cities and states to amend their legislation. 

Oregon’s Employer Accommodation For Pregnancy Act

House Bill 2341 will expand the Oregon Fair Employment Practices Act by requiring that all organizations with at least six employees provide reasonable accommodations for those who have workplace limitations or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. Accommodations may include modifications to a worker’s assignments, equipment or schedule. 

California Senate Bill 142

The California Labor Code and Health and Safety Code already mandates that employers must provide workers with lactation accommodations (defined as time and a private location that’s not a bathroom). In the new year, SB142 will require additional accommodations, including complete privacy, a place to sit, a surface for a pump and access to electricity, a refrigerator and a sink.

Washington’s Paid Family And Medical Leave

Eligible employees in the state of Washington will soon be entitled to take up to 18 weeks of paid family and medical leave per year. It is the fifth state to enact such legislation, and it won’t be the last: the District of Columbia and Massachusetts are slated to follow suit in July 2020 and January 2021, respectively.