Workplace Trends to Watch in 2019

While minimum-wage hikes are getting some deserved attention in the early days of the new year, they are not the only important workplace trends taking hold in 2019.

According to David Weisenfeld, an attorney and legal editor at XpertHR, one of the biggest employment law trends of 2018 at the state level involved new prohibitions on salary history questions. Weisenfeld points out that as of Jan. 1, 2019, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Oregon now restrict employers from asking job applicants about their salary history.  Four other states–including California–have enacted similar measures in the past two years.

“These laws aim to reduce the significant disparity that still exists in many industries between men and women for performing the same, or substantially similar work,” he says.

Another evolving area involves new requirements relating to leave and employee benefits. These requirements cover issues ranging from paid sick and family leave to health care to military leave. Eight states had new requirements taking effect on Jan. 1, including:

  • Arizona–health care continuation coverage law;
  • Connecticut–essential health benefit and cost sharing requirements;
  • Illinois–consolidating military leave laws;
  • Maine–adding preventive health care service requirements
  • New Jersey–individual health insurance mandate;
  • New York–paid family leave benefits rate increase;
  • Rhode Island–paid sick leave accrual and use rate increases; and
  • Washington–employee contributions may be collected for paid family and medical leave benefits.

On the healthcare front, Weisenfeld says, an area to watch involves states taking matters into their own hands with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. The controversial federal tax reform law of December 2017 repealed the ACA’s individual mandate beginning Jan. 1, 2019. The ACA individual mandate had required almost everyone either to maintain minimum essential coverage or to make a shared responsibility payment.

“A New Jersey law mirrors the ACA’s original mandate, and other states may well follow,” he says.

Avatar photo
Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at