Unlike Washington, which remains mired in fiscal negotiations due to the impending “fiscal trifecta” set to coalesce beginning at the end of February (see related story), most states have just kicked off their 2013 legislative sessions and SHRM members need to be tuned in on what’s going on in their respective state capitals.
While the types of issues likely to surface in your state is highly dependent on where you’re located and which political party controls your state’s legislature and governorship (click on the map above produced by the National Conference of State Legislatures), there is a rash of workplace issues poised to come up for review in 2013. Below is a sampling of the types of legislation likely to be debated this year across the country:
- Right-to-Work – Probably the hot-button workplace issue in the states in 2012, legislation allowing union members to decide whether or not to pay mandated union dues as a condition of employment is likely to spread in certain sections of the country. Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan have been the battleground states of late in this initiative, and other states—particularly in the Northeast and the Midwest—are likely areas where this legislation will be considered in 2013.
- Restricting the Use of Credit/Criminal Checks in the Hiring Process – This is an issue that first surfaced on the state level in 2007; now, eight states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont and Washington) have enacted legislation restricting an employer’s use of credit checks in the hiring process. While the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance for employers on the use of criminal background checks last year, the use of credit and criminal check information has caught the attention of legislators—particularly in the Northeast.
- Restricting Access to Applicant/Employee Social Media Passwords – The newest HR issue to surface within state legislatures is an effort to restrict the access by employers to an applicant’s/employee’s social media site. Already, three states (Maryland, Illinois and California) have enacted legislation along these lines and it’s likely more will follow in 2013.
- Mandated Use of E-Verify – The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 decision upholding Arizona’s ability to penalize employers with the threat of losing their business licenses if they are found to have hired undocumented workers is certain to give rise to enhanced employer enforcement on the state level, along with efforts to mandate the use of the federal E-Verify system. Already, nearly two dozen states require certain employers to use E-Verify for work authorization purposes.
- Paid Sick Leave – While the chances of enacting a federal paid sick leave law are remote in the 113th Congress, more and more localities and some states are likely to consider the issue in 2013. In 2011, Connecticut became the first state to enact a statewide statute requiring employers of 50 or more “service” workers to provide paid leave based upon the number of hours worked. Recently, Seattle and Philadelphia joined a handful of other localities to establish a sick leave ordinance for certain employers within their boundaries, and additional cities, such as New York, may follow soon.
- Workplace Weapons – The prevalence of guns in America is certain to garner national attention when Vice President Biden is expected to announce the Obama Administration’s response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School and other recent mass shootings, but the discussion won’t be limited to the federal level. Certain states, particularly those in the South and Midwest, are expected to consider again legislation enacted already in over a dozen states that would allow concealed permit holders (and possibly others) to store a firearm in a locked vehicle, while parked at the workplace.
Do You Work in California or for a California Employer?
If so, you may wish to make time in your schedule to review the FREE compliance webinar SHRM is offering HR practitioners on recent laws enacted in California that became effective on January 1, 2013. While last year was not as robust as 2011 was for workplace reforms, a number of issues—some of which were highlighted above—were enacted into law. To access this online webinar, click HERE.
Also, if you haven’t seen it already, be sure to check out the program schedule for the CalSHRM California Legislative Conference scheduled for April 18 – 19, 2013 in Sacramento. A robust programming schedule, including a preconference workshop on the 17th on California Employment Law Essentials for Businesses, is in place for the conference, so be sure to check it out today by clicking HERE!