2023 promises to bring sweeping changes for employers and the employee experience. A host of new labor laws, rules, and regulations are set to come into effect in the coming year, with a focus on wage equity, expanded healthcare benefits, and other initiatives.
Some of the more significant changes employers may have to deal with this year include:
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
President Biden signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2023 (PWFA) into law in December 2022, which will take effect on June 27, 2023. The PWFA will provide new protections for pregnant and nursing employees.
Thus, companies with more than 15 employees must grant temporary and reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. These accommodations may include providing more frequent restroom breaks, providing seating, or allowing modified work schedules. The PWFA also applies to nursing mothers, requiring employers to provide reasonable break times and a private space other than a bathroom for them to express milk during the workday.
FTC’s Proposal to Ban Non-Compete Clauses
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently proposed banning non-compete clauses, which prevent employees from working for competing businesses for a particular amount of time after leaving their current employment. The FTC’s proposed rule would prohibit employers from using these clauses, giving workers more freedom to switch jobs and pursue better wages and working conditions.
According to the FTC, non-compete clauses can hurt competition in the labor market by limiting worker mobility and preventing them from taking advantage of higher wages or better working conditions. They also believe these clauses can limit innovation by preventing businesses from hiring employees with specialized skills or knowledge.
The proposed ban has been met with both support and criticism. Supporters argue that it will give workers more freedom to move between jobs, while critics worry that it could lead to an increase in the poaching of employees by competitors — not to mention the loss of customers when employees transfer the relationships they’ve created during their previous employment to their new employer.
Family Leave Benefit Policy Expansions
Despite having limited state-wide policies for paid family leave, many states have expanded their coverage this year. New York’s Paid Family Leave program updated its definition of “family member” to include siblings on January 1, 2023. This gives individuals caring for their brother or sister the same benefits and opportunities as those looking after spouses, domestic partners, parents, and children.
In Vermont, employers who want to provide paid family and medical leave benefits can do so through private insurance plans starting in July of 2023. Employees are eligible for up to six weeks of leave in situations such as childbirth, adoption, or when caring for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
Virginia has also expanded access to paid family leave by allowing employers to purchase family leave insurance for employees — similar to how they purchase disability and life insurance for employees — giving them up to 16 weeks of one hundred percent paid leave for various circumstances, including bonding with a new child.
Pay Transparency Rules
The start of 2023 has seen the introduction of new pay transparency laws in several states.
In California, employers must now disclose the wage scale or salary range for an opening in any job posting. The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries requires employers to include a wage range or salary range in job postings. In Rhode Island, employers must post anticipated salary ranges in job postings.
These new laws also require employers to provide additional information, such as benefits and other compensation information. For example, Colorado and Washington’s laws require employers to disclose benefits in job postings; while New York City’s law requires employers to make available certain compensation data upon request from current or prospective employees.
For a summary of how pay transparency rules affect each state, please see Pay Transparency Laws By State  – Zippia.
House Votes for Federal Workers to Return to the Office
On February 1, 2023, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation mandating federal bureaus to reinstate their pre-pandemic remote work regulations. The bill, called the SHOW UP Act, would require federal agencies to return to the telework policies that were in place before the pandemic hit. However, the largely Republican-backed bill is not expected to pass the Democrat-led Senate.
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This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.