Marijuana, leave laws and workplace violence top 2019 HR hurdles
- A new survey by XpertHR named workplace violence, marijuana use, cyber attacks and leave laws as being among the top HR challenges for 2019. XpertHR queried 800 HR professionals, finding 45% of respondents said preparing for and responding to a violent incident in the workplace or an active shooter "very" or "extremely" challenging.
- Rising marijuana use presents a compliance challenge for HR, XpertHR said. Although 30 states have legalized medical marijuana use and more than 10 states have legalized recreational use of the drug, marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance, making it illegal under federal law. Other challenges for HR include preventing cyber attacks, protecting confidential data, and tracking and complying with state and local leave laws.
- Employee handbooks were also cited in the survey as a hurdle, particularly by employers operating in multiple states and jurisdictions. Handbook-related concerns include: making sure employees read and understand handbooks (50%), keeping handbooks updated with the latest laws and trends (47%), keeping track of various handbooks as a multistate employer (46%) and incorporating local mandates into handbooks (38%).
HR's challenges in 2019 aren't too different from those of years past, and for each challenge, there are methods with which employers can be proactive.
As more states and local jurisdictions adopt leave policies, employers can expect conflicts over keeping up with a patchwork of leave laws to continue should federal intervention continue to be absent. Several proposals in the House of Representatives would allow employers to opt out of complying with state and local leave laws to varying degrees, but none have been adopted so far.
Taking the right precautions might help to prevent workplace violence and promote safety at work. E-learning courses can instruct employees in what constitutes workplace violence, identifying the signs of violence and what steps to take to prevent it. Resources from government and non-profit safety entities provide useful guidelines for employers looking to revisit their emergency preparedness plans.
Marijuana laws present similar challenges for HR as leave policies do. Employers must comply with state marijuana laws, many of which protect medical use, and some of which may even ban discrimination against employees who use the drug off-site or on their personal time. Even employers with anti-drug policies will want to be aware of the limits of such policies.
On the cybersecurity front, 70% of employees in one survey said they don't know enough about preventing cyber fraud. That's a particular pain point this time of year, as cyber criminals are taking advantage of the holiday season by setting up gift card spear-phishing scams, among other methods. Employers might need to set up safeguards to protect systems and train workers on how to spot, deter and prevent breaches. HR staff can guard against phishing schemes and other security breaches by partnering with IT or third-party cyber experts.