Human resources is a capricious industry that is forever changing – with trends that focus on talent acquisition, compliance, big data mining, and affordability, there are many fronts that an HR department needs to monitor. With that, there is also a new wave of laws that are coming in 2017 that your human resources department needs to be cognizant about.

Connecticut is going to “ban the box.” The June 2016 Fair Chance Employment Law will require that employers stop inquiring about a candidate’s criminal background when it comes to hiring practices. This new law will come into effect on January 1, 2017. The basis of this ruling is that petty crimes are unfairly judging workers who may have all other qualifications to exceed in a particular position. There are also exceptions that you need to be aware of: an employer can inquire about criminal backgrounds if it is required by law, or if the position requires a fidelity bond. Also, criminal records that have been erased due to statutes of limitation may not be inquired about by a potential employer. One of the first things that your human resources department needs to do is remove any objectionable questions in the application forms. In the unique situation where an employer can inquire about criminal backgrounds, the employer must include a disclaimer that will tell the potential candidate that they are not obligated to disclose expired records.

There is a revised definition under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In order for an employee to be tax exempt, they must meet the salary requirements to perform exempt job duties. Ultimately, it is required that employees must make more than $47,476 per year to be considered exempt employees. This will become effective on December 1, 2016.

Be aware of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Woman’s reproductive rights have been one of the top priorities of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Several years of collaboration has finally come to an apex point, with the EEOC finally creating unique and guidelines to make it more inclusive of the unique challenges that many pregnant workers face. The ultimate goal is to ensure that employees are no longer in a perilous position where they have to choose between their careers or starting a family.