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New Employment Laws for 2021: What They Mean for HR Professionals

June 23, 2024

HR professionals are ready for new workplace legislationWith the infamous 2020 in the rearview mirror — hopefully along with the unprecedented challenges that accompanied it — HR professionals are hoping for a less chaotic year. One of the side benefits of the tumultuous year was the impressive way we adapted to policy changes and communicated those changes to employees. The remote nature of the workforce created a need for virtual employee resource centers, communications channels and mobile-friendly content. HR teams everywhere answered the call.

HR professionals are well equipped to handle the new employment laws going into effect this year. These laws affect paid leave, minimum wage, training and more. Details on the changes in each state can be found in this helpful update from the practical compliance experts at XpertHR. We’ve summarized these changes below, but be sure to review these updated laws, in detail, to determine the specific impact for your organization.

Top Areas for Policy Change

Paid Leave

Employee leave benefits continue to expand by state. New paid leave initiatives kicked in for 2021 in Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. Big changes for both paid and unpaid leave programs have also taken effect in California. For example, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), providing up to 12 weeks of unpaid protected leave, now applies to employers with five or more employees. Previously, the CFRA was only applicable to employers with 50 or more employees.

Minimum Wage

More than 50% of the new laws that took effect in 2021 include increases to the hourly minimum wage. Employers subject to state or local minimum wage laws are obligated to pay the higher rate to employees working there. To name a few, California, Washington and Illinois are among the states that have seen wage increases.


HR professionals in California, Connecticut, Nevada, and Washington face the challenge of new and expanded training requirements. Topics such as sexual harassment prevention, human trafficking awareness, safety, and child abuse and neglect reporting are key training topics for this year.

Other Topics

new employment laws for 2021Employers should be aware of other new laws as well. Some of these laws cover topics such as workplace safety, recreational marijuana, employment screening, and discrimination. Legislation targeting areas outside the workplace can still impact the workplace, so be aware of changes there as well.

Understanding changes in employment law is just the first step. Finding the right solutions for your HR communication needs and measuring their impact is just as important. Communicating these new laws to  employees and determining the training options for compliance may seem like a daunting task. However, there are solutions available to help with employee education and engagement using video, mobile-responsive content and other interactive, communications platforms.

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