Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just run and hide from that unceasing and pestering question; “Are you in compliance?”
Well, we all can dream, but the unfortunate reality is hiding from that question can bring even bigger headaches down the road (not to mention expensive lawsuits, fines and penalties). Being in compliance means not only you, but also all of the managers at your company, must abide by applicable employment laws. Yes, we admit, compliance can be overwhelming…but luckily, we have a few quick tips that may help get you started in ensuring your company is on track:
- Stay up to date: Ensure all of your mandatory workplace notices and posters are up to date (failure to post required state and federal employment law notices can result in fines up to $33,486). Additionally, find a resource you can trust to deliver a newsletter or summary of current, up-to-date, HR information and/or new legal developments to your inbox at least once per month. Our suggestion? Sign up for ours here: Free SDHRC Monthly Newsletter
- Review Your Policies and Handbook: Employment laws are constantly changing, but are your policies changing with them? Unfortunately, “But we’ve always done it this way” doesn’t stand up in court. Make a point to sit down and read through your policies and employee handbook at least once per year to make sure everything included in them is appropriate. If you have never had an attorney or HR professional review them for potential risks, now is probably the time!
- Train Your Staff: Make sure your managers know how to appropriately interact with their employees. Ensure they have had proper harassment training within 6 months of hire/promotion and every 2 years thereafter. You will also want to ensure they aware of laws having to do with discrimination, leave of absence, FLSA regulations etc. so they don’t land you in court with a costly lawsuit.
- Get Good Advice: Make sure you have access to a professional when you need to ask those difficult HR questions. If you find yourself wondering “Is the right way to handle this situation?” or “Could this situation put me at risk?” it’s always best to get a second expert opinion before making hasty decisions or reactions that you can’t take back once the cat is out of the bag.
- Review Your Compensation Plans: Take a look at each employees’ compensation and compare it to all other employees doing substantially similar work each time you hire someone or increase/decrease someone’s pay. Ensure there are no major discrepancies or potential risks of pay discrimination in protected categories such as race, disability, or sex. Also ensure you are properly identifying independent contractors and that you have thoroughly reviewed the duties tests when classifying employees as exempt (FLSA wage and hour penalties alone start at $2,500, and $100 for each calendar day thereafter an employer continues to do business in violation of the law, up to a $100,000 cap, in addition to any wages and attorneys’ fees owed to an employee).
- Conduct an Audit of Personnel Files: Ensure you are providing all federal and state mandated new hire and termination forms/notices and you are following all record retention regulations (there may be separate fines for each one you miss). You will also want to make sure sensitive information (i.e. medical information, immigration status, national origin, race, criminal history, dependent information etc.) is kept separate from files that may be reviewed when making employment decisions. If you’re unsure of what to look for, consider hiring a professional to conduct an annual audit for you.
We admit this is just a start… but it’s a good one! The truth is businesses of all sizes are expected to know and follow employment laws, regardless of how hard it is to keep up. Avoid the legal mess, costly fines and penalties for non-compliance. We are here to help! Start here with our Free Lite HR Audit