Every year brings new legal changes and this year is certainly no different. Government agencies have issued a series of new laws and guidance updates that could impact how you manage benefits, compensation, workplace safety and hiring.

To keep you on track, here's a review of five important changes.

1. Don't Count on the IRS Waiving Penalties for ACA Reporting

The ACA is in full swing and has brought with it a number of compliance requirements for organizations. In 2016, large employers were supposed to file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to report their coverage for employees in 2015. The deadline was June 30, 2016, and if the forms were incorrect, late or incomplete, employers were supposed to pay a penalty. However, this past year the IRS decided not to asses penalties against organizations that were considered to have made good faith efforts to complete everything properly.

If you managed to avoid the penalty this year, you shouldn't count on this happening again, as the IRS hasn't given any indication that they'll be lenient in the future. Make sure your HCM system properly shares employee data across departments and avoids data silos, especially those caused by mergers and acquisitions. This should help ensure your firm will have all necessary employee data on hand to file by the deadline.

While recently there has been activity around attempts to repeal the ACA, including the recent defeat of a new, pared down bill to repeal parts of the ACA in a dramatic 51-49 vote, until new legislation is actually passed, all provisions of the ACA remain intact.

2. OSHA Sets Tougher Penalties

Workplace safety should be even more of a priority for your organization as OSHA launched tougher penalties for workplace violations on Aug. 1. OSHA increased the penalty for a serious safety violation from $7,000 to $12,471. They also increased their penalty for organizations that don't fix a serious problem by their deadline. Finally, the penalty for repeat or willful violations increased from $70,000 to $124,709. Your organization should be on guard to avoid these penalties, especially repeat problems since they have the largest fine.

3. New Bill Could Prevent Employers From Asking Salary History

A new bill in Congress would make it illegal for employers to ask about salary history during a job interview. Under this bill, employers who break the rule could be fined and required to pay damages to the applicant.

While this bill is still not law, it's part of an ongoing trend throughout the country. Massachusetts, California and New York City all have passed laws restricting employers asking about salary history. Your organization should consider avoiding these questions in the future during your hiring process.

4. AARP Challenges Workplace Wellness Programs

Your organization can create financial incentives for a workplace wellness program to encourage employees to be healthier. If employees do not participate, you could charge them an extra penalty for their health care costs and/or offer discounts for those that do participate. However, the AARP has challenged EEOC guidance regarding these programs in court saying that they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act [and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act]. This case is worth following if your organization was considering financial incentives for its workplace wellness program.

Keeping up with changes in the law is crucial for effective human capital management (HCM). This is a snapshot of what is going on now and we'll be sure to keep you updated next quarter.

Tags: legislation