Regulatory compliance remains a burden for trucking and other businesses

May 15, 2017
Littler survey provides regulatory compliance outlook

It’s no secret that trucking is governed by an ever-more complex web of rules, with said rules affecting the bottom lines of motor carriers in many different areas.

Take exhaust emission aftertreatment regulations, just for starters; they resulted in some significant hikes in equipment costs over the last two decades alone.

But what’s making the situation more difficult is that federal rulemaking activity is now occurring side-by-side with state and local government regulatory efforts, creating a triple-punch like-effect on all manner of businesses large and small, trucking and non-trucking alike.

That at least is the view garnered from reading the 2017 Littler Annual Employer Survey, compiled by employment and labor law firm Littler Mendelson P.C.

The firm’s sixth annual survey polled 1,229 in-house counsel, human resources (HR) professionals and C-suite executives and one of its major findings is that a “complex patchwork of state and local laws” combined with “deep uncertainty” where federal regulatory initiatives are concerned – especially in terms of the effort to roll back the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) enacted in 2010, which is more commonly known as “Obamacare – is making strategic planning difficult for businesses.

“As states and municipalities continue to propose and enact a dizzying array of rules and regulations, it is no wonder employers are struggling with the increasingly fragmented landscape,” noted Michael Lotito, co-chair of Littler’s workplace policy institute, in the firm’s report.

“With the Trump administration working to reduce federal regulations, employers can expect a growing patchwork of employment regulations as states and municipalities look to fill a perceived void at the federal level,” he added.

Lotito said a host of new or amended labor and employment requirements at the state and local levels is creating compliance challenges for the majority of respondents (79%) to Littler’s survey. In an effort to keep up, employers are updating their policies, handbooks and HR procedures (85%; providing additional employee training (54 %); and conducting internal audits (50%).

In terms of the array of regulatory changes at the state and local levels, respondents to the firm’s poll said they have been most impacted by paid leave mandates (59%), background check restrictions (48%) and minimum wage increases (47%).

On top of that, more than a quarter (27%) of respondents to Littler’s survey said they remain uncertain about the impact of repealing the employer mandate within current AHCA legislation, while another 28% said they did not anticipate an impact at all.

“Employers face even more questions about the future of the AHCA, as well as the extent to which the administrative process can and will be used to change aspects of the law, than when they responded to our survey,” noted Ilyse Schuman, the other co-chair of Littler’s workplace policy institute. “In this environment, employers can continue to expect a certain level of uncertainty surrounding employer-sponsored health coverage in the months ahead.”

Aside from Obamacare-related issues, here are some of the bigger compliance-related issues businesses expect to face near-term according to Littler’s poll:

  • Hiring practices – including the consideration of criminal or credit histories in the hiring process and pre-employment testing or screening practices – is the area where most respondents (51%) expect an increase in EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] workplace discrimination claims over the next year, closely followed by LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer) rights (46%) and equal pay (46%).
  • Leaves of absences under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) continue to present some of the greatest challenges to employers, with majority of respondents indicated difficulty with managing intermittent FMLA leave (65%) and leaves that extend beyond FMLA requirements (55%), followed by remote or work-from-home arrangements (37%) and modified or reduced schedules (36%).
  • Information security is growing as a regulatory issue as the volume of data breaches originating with employees continues to increase. Some 63% of those polled said their HR and IT [information technology] departments are collaborating on information security policies. Just over half (51%) said they were providing additional training to employees, and a smaller percentage said they were utilizing cyber-incident response plans (29%) and updating employee contracts to cover confidentiality obligations (23%).
  • Among respondents from large-cap organizations, the majority (56%) stressed that global data privacy is a key area of concern in doing business outside of the U.S. “This concern likely stems from the significant restrictions on sharing personal data of employees in Europe and in the many countries that impose stricter rules than the U.S.,” noted Philip Berkowitz, U.S. co-chair of Littler’s international employment law practice.

All of that is yet another reminder that the number of things to deal with in trucking just seems to keep piling up on the industry’s plate. It’s a trip down a buffet line no motor carrier wants to make.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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