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New Laws that Benefit Those who Work

2018 brings with it a number of new laws including raises to the minimum wage, paid family leave and important worker protections

Brian Young's picture
Jan 03, 2018

2018 is here and with it come a host of new laws that unions have spent the last few years fighting for. They range from hikes to the minimum wage, paid family leave and a law meant to narrow the pay gap.

Minimum Wage

Thanks to the hard work of the Fight for $15 Movement, 18 states raised their minimum wage on January 1, affecting 4.5 million people. The increases ranged from just a few cents to over a dollar. Some of these raises are part of a multi-year schedule of increases to bring the state to a $15 minimum wage. In New York City, businesses with over 11 employees will now pay their workers $13 an hour, one of the highest rates in the country. New York has multiple minimum wages based on the size of the business and where the business is located. Seattle also increased their minimum wage to over $15 for large businesses.

Paid Family Leave

New York has now become the fourth state in the country to provide paid family leave. This allows employees to take time off to care for sick family members without having to worry about losing their paychecks. The program will be paid for out of the state disability system. Once the system is completely phased in, you will be able to take 12 paid weeks a year in family leave. Washington state also enacted a similar law that covers all employees at businesses with more than 50 employees.

On January 1st, California’s family leave policy also took effect. The New Parent Leave Act allows new parents 12 unpaid weeks of paternity or maternity leave, without fear of losing their jobs, as long as they work for an employer that has more than 20 employees.

Salary History

In recent years a campaign has begun to decrease the pay gap between men and women as well as whites and people of color. As UCOMM has reported, localities have been passing laws to make it illegal to ask a job applicant their previous salary history. In California, as of January 1st, it is now illegal to ask a job applicant for their salary history and employers must provide a pay scale for the position if asked.

Worker Protection

Multiple states also sought to slow down or stop employers’ intrusions into their employees personal lives. In Vermont, employers will no longer be able to require employees or applicants to disclose their social media account information. It also bans an employer from forcing the employee or applicant to access the account in their presence or change the privacy settings so that they can access it.

In Illinois, employers will no longer be allowed to penalize an employee who refuses to consent to genetic testing. As UCOMM reported companies have used this testing for a number of employment and cost decisions.

In Maine, employers will now be required to follow a set checklist when conducting sexual harassment training.

For many, 2017 was a hard year, but thanks to the hard work of unions and workers around the country, a number of important worker protection laws were passed. Hopefully there will be many more in 2018.

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