HR News December 2018

HR News You Can Use – December 2018

HR Legal Issues/Updates:

  • Expungement of criminal records and employer liability: Effective Dec. 27, 2018, among other things, SC employers must not use expunged information adversely against an employee, and an employer who employs a worker with an expungement must not be subject to any administrative or legal claim (for example, negligent hiring) related to the worker’s expunged offense.
  • Noting the passing of President George H. W. Bush earlier this month, we are reminded of his impact on employment law: he signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Holiday Parties: How much fun for everyone?

According to the 2018 Holiday Party Survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, just 65% of employers are holding holiday parties this year, the lowest rate since the 2009 recession. No doubt concerns about employer consequences of inappropriate party behavior is contributing to this reduction in merry-making. Clearly, holiday parties are a mixed blessing. Where and when should it be held? Should it be during the work day, or after work? Should spouses and dates be included, or not? Should alcohol be served, and if so, can it be effectively monitored? These are just some of the questions as HR professionals we face at holiday time. No doubt you have already made your plans for this year, but here are some last minute tips to ensure that a fun and hopefully liability-free time is had by all.

  • Send an email to your employees prior to the event, reminding them of your anti-harassment policy, and that the company’s expectation is for all party goers to behave professionally and respectfully to others, just as they do in the office. Follow-up immediately on allegations of inappropriate behavior at the event, conduct a thorough investigation of the facts, and if corrective action is warranted, apply it promptly.
  • Ask you supervisors and managers to keep their eyes and ears open during the party, to be alert to any inappropriate words or activity…. and, remind your management team to set a good example of appropriate behavior at the event.
  • Be sure to communicate that attendance at the event is optional, and be sure not to penalize employees who choose not to attend.
  • If you are serving alcohol, make sure you have a professional bartender mixing the drinks and advise them not to continue serving drinks to anyone appearing to be intoxicated. Introduce them to a member of management they can contact if they have any problems with guests at the bar. Also, provide plenty of food rich in carbohydrates and protein to slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
  • Consider using drink tickets or a cash bar to limit the amount of alcohol consumed. Have a good selection of nonalcoholic drinks, and perhaps include a tasty “mocktail.” Although not perfect solutions, such options reinforce the company’s expectation that guests will not overindulge.
  • Arrange transportation for any employees appearing to be intoxicated, and communicate ahead of time that such transportation will be provided, if needed.

Employment Policy Roadmap for 2019

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank that proposes public policies to protect and improve the economic conditions of low and middle income working Americans. EPI has published their agenda of policy initiatives for Congress to take up next year. As the Democrats will be in control of labor and employment policy in the U.S. House of Representatives beginning in 2019, do not be surprised if you see a number of the following policy prescriptions being proposed over the coming two years:

  • End at-will employment
  • Amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to ban right-to-work laws, require first contract arbitration, increase penalties on employers, and limit employers’ ability to communicate with employees
  • Establish national paid sick leave and predictive scheduling
  • Increase the federal minimum wage immediately to $13 per hour, and set the salary basis for overtime eligibility to at least the $47,476 as proposed in the 2016 overtime rule
  • Ban pre-dispute arbitration agreements
  • Institute federal contracting “blacklisting” standards
  • Require employers to disclose employee wage data broken down by sex and race to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Updated IRS Contribution Limits for 2019

In late November, the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2018-57, announcing updated contribution limits for the New Year.

Medical FSA Limit: $2,700

Monthly Mass Transit & Parking Limit: $265

Adoption Assistance Limit: $14,080

H S A Contribution Limit: Single Coverage- $3,500; Family Coverage- $7,000


This newsletter is not intended to provide legal guidance to you. We welcome your input on topics you would like to learn more about. We encourage you to contact the author of this newsletter, Caryl Kuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP at 803.729.8398 or at ckuchman@benefitcompany.com  if you have questions on any information presented.

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