What to Expect in 2021

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Along with a new year, January 1, 2021, will bring many employers new regulations to follow. Affinity HR Group is tracking legislative updates in your state so we are ready to advise you on what it means for you and what to do next.

Some changes include:

  • 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 to 15 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Florida is expanding their e-verify requirements to include certain private employers, increasing the number of states mandating some or most private employers to use e-verify to 20.
  • 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 some other significant legal changes being implemented in several states.


  • CFRA expanded to cover all businesses with 5 or more employees, removes the 75-mile radius criteria, and adds categories for qualifying reasons
  • Family Temporary Disability Insurance (FTDI) expanded to include absences due to a family member’s military service
  • Protected time off for crime victims expanded to include leave for any crime that caused physical injury or mental injury with threat of physical injury
  • HR professionals who work for businesses with 5 or more employees which employee minors will be designated as mandated child abuse reporters


  • Mandates employers with 16 or more employees provide all employees with paid sick leave (accrued at 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked up to 48 hours per year) (applies to all employers as of January 1, 2022)
  • Mandates employers provide up to 2 weeks / 80 hours of paid leave to supplement an employee’s available sick time during a public health emergency for use for covered reasons
  • Equal Pay for Equal Work law:
    • prohibits wage discrimination based on sex and gender identity and
    • requires wage transparency by prohibiting employers from seeking salary history from applicants and preventing employees from discussing their wages and requiring 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%) begin with first quarterly payment for Paid Family and Medical Leave due 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 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% 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.

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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 exempt.

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As always, Affinity HR Group is here to help you navigate any regulatory changes that impact you and your business. Affinity HR Group also offers two plans – our HR Support Plan and Regulatory Updates Plan – to help you stay up-to-date on regulatory changes that impact all the states you operate in. Please contact Paige McAllister, VP of Compliance, with any questions you may have.

By Paige McAllister, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Vice President HR Compliance – Affinity HR Group, Inc.

Paige McAllister is a contributor for Affinity HR Group, Inc., NAWLA’s affiliated human resources partner.  Affinity HR Group specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations such as NAWLA and their member companies.  To learn more, visit www.affinityHRgroup.com.

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