Twenty-five years ago, there was no social media. We were all saying “no to drugs.” Recognition of same-sex marriage was an issue outside of the national consciousness. And Flashdance was charming its way into our hearts.
Now, we’ve got Facebook and Nicki Minaj. President Obama has come out in favor of gay marriage. Just in the past decade, medical marijuana has spread to a smattering of states across the nation and legalized recreational use took hold in two states - Federal law notwithstanding.
We know “the times they are a-changin’” is a bit of a cliché, but in this case, it rings true. The question for you is: are your workplace policies changing along with them?
Reevaluate Your Benefits Packages and Policies
For most employers, this will be the biggest set of changes to address for the upcoming year. Legally-recognized gay marriage seems almost like a foregone conclusion at this point, as does federal recognition and the death of DOMA. SCOTUS will hear the California gay marriage and DOMA cases in March. If your workplace still doesn't extend the same benefits to same sex couples as heterosexual couples, it's time to join the march of progress and readdress your benefits policies.
On a related note, with Obamacare becoming SCOTUS-approved last year, this is also a time to reassess your compliance with the Affordable Care Act. The short version of the law is that employers with fifty or more full-time employees must provide healthcare beginning on January 1, 2014, or pay a $2,000 penalty per employee after the first thirty workers. This leaves employers two options: buy healthcare for everyone, or shift enough workers to part-time status to avoid the mandate.
Do you drug test? What happens when an employee tests positive for cannabis? With Washington and Colorado legalizing recreational use, and medical marijuana present in many other states, if you still ban weed outright, you might want to reconsider the ban or revise the language of your policy to prevent being under the influence during working hours. Then again, marijuana is still illegal under Federal law.
We'll say it one more time: check your social media policy. In the last year, the National Labor Relations Board has weighed in on what is acceptable and what is not in regards to workplace social media policies. A handful of states have passed laws that restrict employers' use of employees' social media accounts, such as the Illinois law that prohibits employers from asking for employees' passwords.
Welcome to the future.