by Lauren Belcher at Phillip Blount & Associates

Last year, our compensation team at Phillip Blount & Associates looked at several changes in HR trends and regulations that were anticipated in 2017.  During the past year, we have seen the first steps toward changes in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime regulations, along with several growing trends in human resources.

2017 Changes in HR Policy and Regulation

FLSA Overtime Ruling

Just two months before the inauguration in January 2017, the FLSA overtime rule was halted by Texas federal judge, Amos Mazzant.  Today, as of February 2018, the Department of Labor (DOL), is working to revise regulations regarding the exemption of executive, administrative, and professional employees from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.  The DOL states that until its final rule, the November 30, 2016 rulings will stand, including the standard weekly salary level of $455/week.

When we receive information on the DOL’s final ruling, we will report it to you.

Affordable Care Act Employer and Employee Mandates

As of September 2017, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains intact.  If a repeal had taken place, the employer mandate would have been removed and states would have gained more control over health care requirements.  Currently, employers should remain compliant with all ACA requirements.  (SHRM)

With the recent passing of the new tax bill, the requirement of individuals to have health care or pay a penalty was removed.

“Buy American, Hire American” Executive Orders Issued

In mid-April 2017, an executive order nicknamed, “Buy American, Hire American.” was issued.  The “Buy American” Executive Order 13788 was put in place to “promote economic and national security and to help stimulate economic growth, create good jobs at decent wages, strengthen our middle class, and support the American manufacturing and defense industrial bases…”. “Buy American” laws will affect the procurement of manufactured products to be used for federal and/or federally-funded projects.  “Hire American” laws were issued “in order to create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests…”.

 Strong U.S. Economy Continues Upward Trend

The United States has seen increasingly strong economic growth through 2017.  According to the Department of Labor (DOL), more than two million jobs were created, with the “manufacturing and mining and logging” and “construction” industries topping the category with a combination of nearly 500,000 new jobs created in 2017.  With all the new jobs created in 2017, unemployment is at just 4.1 percent, matching a 17-year low.  (DOL)

In addition, the new corporate tax rate will fall to 21 percent – down from the current 35 percent rate.  It is anticipated that individuals will also see an increase in after-tax incomes by an average of 2.2 percent according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

Trends to Look For in 2018 Impacting Human Resources Policy, Practices & Regulation

Employee Experience

Look for continued movement of employers away from focusing on employee engagement to focusing on employee experience.  Employee experience incorporates engagement, culture and performance management all in one.  Apps and productivity tools are among some of the technology that will be increasingly used to enable “understanding and development” of employee experience.  (Forbes)

HR Digitalization

Emplyee recruitment practices are becoming more effective with the aid of digital tools and artificial intelligence.  These technological advances are also lowering the cost of recruitment.  (Forbes)

The “Gig Economy” Continues Expansion

The “Gig Economy”, defined by the BBC as a “labor market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work” (Forbes) is changing the way benefits are being implemented, employers are using more voluntary benefits to retain gig and part-time employees. (SHRM)

An Increasingly Remote Workforce

Telecommunication has grown exponentially over the past twenty years.  According to Forbes, it has quadrupled – thanks, in part, to VPN technology and a growing trend among employers to allowing remote access to work systems.   Telecommuting goes hand-in-hand with the gig economy and an approach which allows employers to better retain employees and provide a more satisfying work-life balance.

“Gamification” in Recruiting

Gamification, defined by Forbes as “the idea of turning engagement into a competitive game format,” offers employers a new more interactive way for recruiting employees using apps and analytics.  (Forbes)

These 2018 changes and trends in HR are just a few to watch for as we near the mid-first quarter of 2018.   Please do not hesitate to contact us at Phillip Blount & Assocatiates with any questions you may have about our perspectives around compensation trends and strategies relevant to your 2018 pay plans.