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HR Updates for 2021: Legal Changes, Wage Rates and More

The beginning of the new year has brought many new regulations for employers to follow. Affinity HR Group, a Big “I" Hires partner, is tracking legislative updates in each state. Here are some changes. 
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hr updates for 2021: legal changes, wage rates and more

Jan. 1 brought many employers new regulations to follow. Affinity HR Group, a Big “I" Hires partner, is tracking legislative updates in each state. 

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 to 20 mandating some or most private employers to use e-verify.
  • 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 of the other significant legal changes being implemented in several states.


  • California Family Rights Act (CFRA) expanded to cover all businesses with five 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 five or more employees which employs minors will be designated as mandated child abuse reporters.


  • Employers with 16 or more employees are mandated to provide all employees with paid sick leave (accrued at one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year). This will apply to all employers starting Jan.1, 2022.
  • Employers must provide up to 2 weeks or 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. The law requires all employers (including those located outside of Colorado) to include compensation and benefit information in postings for all jobs in Colorado.


  • 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 is available starting Jan. 1, 2022.


  • All employers must have delivered sexual harassment prevention training to all employees no later than December 31, 2020, and must continue each year thereafter.

Montgomery County, Maryland:

  • 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.


  • 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. This went into effect October 1, 2019.


  • 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

Certain cities and counties may have higher wage rates, including some in AZ, CA, CO, IL, ME, MD, MN, NM, NY and WA, where minimum wage rates will increase in 2021.


New Minimum Hourly Rate

as of Jan. 1, 2021 (unless otherwise noted)

New Hourly Tip Credit Rate as of Jan. 1, 2021 (unless otherwise noted)




$12.15no change



California (employers with 26 or more employees)

California (employers with 25 or fewer employees)


$12.32no change

Connecticut (August 1, 2021)

$13.00$6.62 (hotel or restaurant) and $4.77 (bartenders)


$8.65no change

Florida (September 30, 2021)

$10.00no change





Maryland (employers with 15 or more employees)


Maryland (employers with 14 or fewer employees)






Minnesota (employers who gross $500,000 or more)



Minnesota (employers who gross less than $500,000 and certain industries)






Nevada (no health benefits offered)


Nevada (health benefits offered)

New Jersey (general)$12.00no change
New Jersey (small or seasonal employers)$11.10no change
New Jersey (farm or piece rate)$10.30 

New Jersey (long-term care facility direct care staff)


New Mexico


New York (Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties) (December 31, 2020)

$14.00no longer allowed outside hospitality wage order; others vary

New York (rest of state) (December 31, 2020)

no longer allowed outside hospitality wage order; others vary

New York (non-NYC fast food) (December 31, 2020)



New York (non-NYC fast food) (July 1, 2021)




Oregon (general) (July 1, 2021)


Oregon (urban areas) (July 1, 2021)


Oregon (non-urban areas) (July 1, 2021)


South Dakota




Virginia (May 1, 2021)




Washington, D.C. (July 1, 2021)



State Minimum Salary Threshold for Executive, Administrative and Professional Exemptions

While the Fair Labor Standards Act 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.


Minimum Weekly Salary

Minimum Annual Salary



California (employers with 26 or more employees)


California (employers with 25 or fewer employees)






New York (Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties)


New York (rest of state)


Pennsylvania (October 3, 2021)



Washington (employers with 50 or fewer employees)


Washington (employers with 51 or more employees)


As always, Affinity HR Group is here to help you navigate any regulatory changes that impact you and your business.

Paige McAllister is vice president, HR compliance, Affinity HR Group, Inc. Affinity HR is the endorsed HR partner of Big “I" Hires, the Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia, Big I New York, and Big I New Jersey.

Reach out to Affinity HR Group via email or 877-660-6400 with your HR needs.

Thursday, January 14, 2021
Recruiting, Hiring & Training