January 1, 2021 means new regulations for employers in many states. Affinity HR Group, PPAI’s affiliated human resources partner, is tracking legislative updates across the U.S. to help advise employers on these changes, what they mean and what to do next. Paige McAllister, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, vice president/HR compliance at Affinity, has compiled a quick guide.

Some of the most significant changes include these:

  • Employers in Colorado, Maine and New York will be required to offer employees paid time off. California employers will need to expand the permissible reasons for using sick time.
  • Mississippi and South Dakota approved medical marijuana laws, so 36 states and Washington D.C. will now recognize some forms of medical marijuana. Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota passed measures legalizing some form of recreational marijuana use, increasing this list to 15 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Florida is expanding its e-verify requirements to include certain private employers, increasing to 20 the number of states mandating some or most private employers that use the tool.
  • Hawaii and Missouri will further restrict the consideration of an applicant’s or employee’s criminal history in employment decisions.
  • Iowa, Minnesota and Virginia will implement new classification requirements for independent contractors.

Below is a compilation of other legal changes being implemented in several states next year.


  • The California Family Rights Act was expanded to cover all businesses with five or more employees, removes the 75-mile radius criteria, and adds categories for qualifying reasons.
  • Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI) was expanded to include absences due to a family member’s military service.
  • Protected time off for crime victims was expanded to include leave for any crime that caused physical injury or mental injury with the threat of physical injury.
  • HR professionals who work for businesses with five or more employees and who employ minors are required to report any suspected child abuse.


  • Legislation now mandates employers with 16 or more employees to provide all employees with paid sick leave (accrued at one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked up to 48 hours per year) and applies to all employers as of January 1, 2022.
  • Employers are now required to provide up to two weeks / 80 hours of paid leave to supplement an employee’s available sick time during a public health emergency for use for covered reasons
  • The Equal Pay for Equal Work law:
    – Prohibits wage discrimination based on sex and gender identity.
    – Requires wage transparency by prohibiting employers from seeking salary history from applicants and preventing employees from discussing their wages. It also requires all employers (including those located outside of Colorado) to include compensation and benefit information in postings for all jobs in Colorado.

Connecticut: Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) payroll deductions (0.5 percent) will begin with the first quarterly payment for Paid Family and Medical Leave due on March 31, 2021 (leave available as of January 1, 2022).

Illinois: All employers must deliver sexual harassment prevention training to all employees no later than December 31, 2020, and each year thereafter.

Maryland, Montgomery County: Employers must provide a minimum 30-hour work week for certain employees including janitors, building cleaners, security officers, concierges, doorpersons, handypersons and building superintendents who perform janitorial services for office buildings that are 350,000 square feet or larger.

Maine: Most employers must offer eligible employees up to 26 weeks of Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) for a qualifying reason (paid through 0.75-percent payroll deductions that went into effect October 1, 2019).

Virginia: Handheld use of a cell phone or smart phone while driving is prohibited with few exceptions such as to report an emergency.

Increased State Hourly Minimum Wage Rates As Of January 1, 2021:

Certain cities and counties may have higher wage rates, including some in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and Washington, where minimum wage rates will increase in 2021.

State Minimum Salary Threshold for Executive, Administrative and Professional Exemptions as of January 1, 2021:

While the FLSA salary threshold for exempt employees will remain at $684 per week, some states set a higher minimum salary threshold that must be met for white-collar (executive, administrative and professional) employees to be classified as exempt.

Affinity HR Group specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations such as PPAI and their member companies. To learn more, visit www.affinityHRgroup.com.