We are now a full quarter into 2021 and, at the time of this writing, over 60 days into the new administration. As expected, changes to labor laws and employment are now beginning to show themselves. Some are no big deal for the average employer. Others are rather significant.

We have put together a list of the changes that we believe are worthy of keeping an eye on in 2021. As a benefits professional, these are all things that impact your clients in both the HR and benefits arenas. You being fully versed in them will make you an invaluable source of advice and information.

ID Requirements for W-2 Forms

This first change is considered minor by most standards. As of January 1, employers concerned about identity can choose to modify W-2 forms so that these only display the final four digits of an employee's Social Security number. Your clients currently handling payroll in-house may need a software update to accomplish this change. Clients utilizing third-party payroll providers need only ask that it be implemented.

2019 and 2020 EEO-1 Reports

Certain qualified employers are required to file an annual EEO-1 report according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1967. The EEOC waived that requirement in 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis. However, certain employers who took advantage of the waiver will now have to file their 2019 and 2020 reports this year. A filing deadline has yet to be set. Employers are encouraged to check with the EEOC to learn the details.

Coronavirus Legislation

Many of the provisions put in place to protect employees throughout 2020 were allowed to expire at the end of the year. However, multiple states are picking up the mantle by either extending their own coronavirus relief bills or drafting new ones. Colorado and California are two examples.

Colorado is extending legislation enacted in 2020, legislation that requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave to workers who are already sick with coronavirus, are being forced to quarantine, or must care for children who are either sick or can't attend school due coronavirus lockdowns.

Family and Medical Leave

Multiple states are extending existing family and medical leave policies. Others are adopting such policies for the first time. If your clients do business in any of the following states, you would do well to learn more about the family medical leave policies that affect them:

New York has one of the most generous family and medical leave laws. Under the state’s Sick and Safe Leave Law, all employers are required to offer something. Smaller employers get away with less, but even they must provide up to 40 hours of unpaid leave.

Masking and Vaccination Policies

Now that coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out, the CDC is altering its guidelines. Expect the states to follow. What is not yet clear is how federal and state agencies are going to address employer face mask and vaccination policies. However, know this: the issues will be addressed one way or another.

Expect to see changes addressing whether or not employers can continue requiring vaccinations. Expect to see new policies regarding mask requirements in the workplace. Coronavirus is an ever-evolving problem that will force regulators at all levels to modify guidelines and policies.

If any of these changes impact your clients, directly or indirectly, advise them to consult with an expert capable of helping with implementation. One way or another, know that change is coming. It always does.

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