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Get Ready to Ring in the New Year with More Employment Law Changes

The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on the prior year and plan for the upcoming one.  In 2018, a spotlight was directed at sexual harassment issues, leading to significant upcoming changes in some states’ employment laws.  Likewise, mandatory paid sick leave became a major 2018 issue that has led to changes for many employers.

Even more changes will soon become effective in 2019, and now is the time to review employee handbooks, payroll policies, and training programs to ensure compliance with the changing labor and employment laws.  Here are just a few highlights for employers to consider in 2019:

Minimum Wages Rise

A number of states and localities across the US are increasing the minimum wages for both regular and tipped employees.  Some of the larger increases taking effect in states on January 1, 2019 include the following:



Minimum Wage


Minimum Wage

2018 Tipped Minimum Wage

2019 Tipped Minimum Wage





















New York










Paid Sick Leave Policies

Michigan joined the growing ranks of states to implement mandatory paid sick leave policies for employers.  Effective April 1, 2019, Michigan’s Paid Medical Leave Act will apply to companies that employ 50 or more individuals.  An eligible employee will accrue paid leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 35 hours worked.  Alternatively, an employer may frontload at least 40 hours of paid sick leave at the beginning of the benefit year.  Employers may limit the use of paid sick leave by an employee to 40 hours per benefit year.

Sexual Harassment Prevention and Confidentiality Provisions

California has expanded its mandatory sexual-harassment-prevention training law to businesses with 5 or more employees, requiring employers to comply by January 1, 2020.  Employers must provide at least 2 hours of sexual-harassment-prevention training to supervisory employees and 1 hour of training to all other employees, then provide additional training every two years after.

In 2018, New York employers were required to update anti-sexual-harassment policies and conduct annual sexual-harassment-prevention trainings for all employees.

States like California and New York have passed laws affecting confidentiality provisions in sexual-harassment settlement agreements.  Effective January 1, 2019, California will prohibit provisions that prevent the disclosure of factual information related to sexual harassment, discrimination, and assault, or retaliation against a person for reporting sexual harassment or discrimination. In New York, the parties must establish that the confidentiality provision is the complainant’s preference by giving the complainant a 21-day waiting period to sign the agreement and a 7-day revocation period.

Accommodation and Gender Equity Moves

California aligned its lactation-accommodation law to be consistent with federal law, requiring that a lactation space cannot be a bathroom. 

California now requires that publicly traded companies appoint a certain number of women to their boards of directors.  Covered companies must have at least one female on their board by the end of 2019, and two or three females depending on board size by the end of 2021. 

Awaiting Overtime Rules

On the federal level, employers are still awaiting the Department of Labor’s announcement on rules concerning overtime and the salary level for the “white collar” exemptions.  An announcement of a new rule is anticipated in 2019. 

For New York employers, the salary threshold for exempt “administrative” or “executive” employees will change on December 31, 2018 to the following:

  • For New York City employers with 11 or more employees, the threshold will increase from $975 per week ($50,700 annually) to $1,125 per week ($58,500 annually).
  • For New York City employers with 10 or fewer employees, the threshold will increase from $900 per week ($46,800 annually) to $1,012.50 per week ($52,650).
  • For Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester county employers, the threshold will increase from $825 per week ($42,900 annually) to $900 per week ($46,800 annually).
  • For the other cities and counties in New York, the threshold will increase from $780 per week ($40,560 annually) to $832 per week ($43,264 annually).

Likewise, the salary requirement for exempt employees will also increase in California.  To be considered an exempt executive, administrative, or professional employee in California, employers will now need to pay a minimum salary of $49,920 per year.

As 2019 brings more changes, the Employer’s Wage and Hour Advisor and the Labor and Employment attorneys at Honigman will continue to provide you updates on laws and decisions that may impact your business. May 2019 bring you continued success, joy, and compliance!

Topics: Minimum Wage
  • Matthew S. Disbrow

    Matt Disbrow is a labor and employment attorney who advises clients concerning a wide spectrum of employment matters, including wage and hour issues, overtime issues, executive employment and compensation, employment ...

  • Jennifer L. Muse

    Jenn Muse is an employment law attorney who provides proactive counsel to businesses on practical strategies, steps, and policies to address human resources and relations concerns. She focuses her practice on employment ...

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