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5 Compliance Basics for Employers

  1. Know current federal and state laws—many have changed recently
  2. Update your company policies and employee handbook with legal guidance
  3. Train managers, HR, executives, and employees
  4. Use a Human Resources Management System (HRMS)
  5. Ensure your corporate culture supports a safe, legal, and welcoming environment

Human Resources oversees compliance for every team and business function. This places a heavy burden on your HR director. Here are 12 policies to review. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. You may have dozens more depending on your business type, location, and staff demographics.

12 HR functions to review and update:

  1. Job descriptions
  2. Interviewing questions
  3. Onboarding programs
  4. Training materials
  5. Timekeeping
  6. Scheduling
  7. Labor law posters
  8. Employee classification
  9. Payroll
  10. Recordkeeping
  11. Reporting
  12. Practices of third-party HR services and business partners

Compliance Issues for 2020

New Overtime Threshold

ATTENTION: on January 1, 2020, the new overtime rule will take effect.

On September 24, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final rule to make 1.3 million American workers newly eligible for overtime pay. The new salary threshold is $684 per week (equivalent to $35,568 per year for a full-year worker);

The final rule updates the earnings thresholds necessary to exempt executive, administrative and professional employees from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, and allows employers to count a portion of certain bonuses/commissions towards meeting the salary level. The new thresholds account for growth in employee earnings since the thresholds were last updated in 2004. U.S. Department of Labor

Paid and Unpaid Leave

Review paid leave benefits in light of FMLA and state regulations. Ensure HRMS settings support compliance. Check timesheet/scheduling recordkeeping.

Predictive Scheduling/Fair Workweek

State laws that govern employee scheduling vary. When crafting your policy, address the following:

  • Good faith estimate of employee schedules
  • Post schedules at least 2 weeks in advance
  • Employee schedule preferences
  • Restrictions on filling vacant shifts
  • Advance notice of schedule changes
  • Predictability pay
  • Rest periods and clopenings
  • Time and attendance recordkeeping

TimeSimplicity, the scheduling solution in WorkforceHUB HRMS simplifies scheduling compliance.

Paycheck Fairness

No Federal law yet. It has passed the House of Representatives, but the Senate will probably not bring it up for a vote before the 2020 election.

However, several states have passed laws that address this issue.

If you are currently asking about salary history during interviews, this could be illegal in your state. Check with your state department of labor.

Preventing Sexual Harassment and Discrimination

Most employers’ policies are incomplete. In the ‘Me Too’ era, both awareness and reports of violations have increased. You also need to consider LGBTQ protections.

What should your policy include?

This is from the EEOC’s Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment:

  • A statement that the policy applies to employees at every level of the organization, as well as to applicants, clients, customers, and other relevant individuals
  • An unequivocal statement that harassment based on, at a minimum, any legally protected characteristic is prohibited
    An easy to understand description of prohibited conduct, including examples
  • A description of any processes for employees to informally share or obtain information about harassment without filing a complaint
  • A description of the organization’s harassment complaint system, including multiple (if possible), easily accessible reporting avenues
  • A statement that employees are encouraged to report conduct that they believe may be prohibited harassment (or that, if left unchecked, may rise to the level of prohibited harassment), even if they are not sure that the conduct violates the policy
  • A statement that the employer will provide a prompt, impartial, and thorough investigation
  • A statement that the identity of individuals who report harassment, alleged victims, witnesses, and alleged harassers will be kept confidential to the extent possible and permitted by law, consistent with a thorough and impartial investigation

Maintaining a harassment- and discrimination-free workplace is at the heart of company culture. If leadership doesn’t practice acceptable behavior, no policy can make up for it.

Cannabis Use

Has your state legalized medical or recreational marijuana recently? That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to loosen company substance use policies. And you can continue drug testing as you’ve done in the past.

But you do need to revisit your marijuana policy to take into account the new realities of cannabis use.

  • Have your legal counsel help create your cannabis policy
  • Consider workplace safety, federal laws, and state laws
  • Include progressive discipline for violations
  • Train managers to detect impairment

Important Compliance Questions for Employers

What’s your state up to?

Stay up to date with your state’s workplace laws. Remember if a state law is different than the federal counterpart, you are obligated to the higher standard.

Has my workforce size changed my ACA obligations?

The Affordable Care Act provisions kick in at different levels. If you’ve hit a staffing milestone, make sure you’re in compliance.

Are you a federal contractor?

Federal contractors are subject to stricter (or different) laws in many instances. Consult the Department of Labor office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

Do you have employees in multiple states?

Piecemeal state, local, and regional laws complicate compliance. Employers must follow the laws where employees are working, regardless of where the company is headquartered.

An HRMS is The Most Powerful Compliance Tool

An HRMS keeps your processes legal. This includes recruiting, onboarding, employee handbooks, data security, time and attendance, PTO tracking, and scheduling.

By Liz Strikwerda