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5 steps to making Legal Compliance less of an HR nightmare

hr best practices hr compliance hr leadership Sep 13, 2022

Legal compliance is one area of HR that drives everyone crazy! Rules are constantly changing on both the state and federal levels….and now cities and counties are getting in on the action.  It can feel impossible to keep up to date on everything you need to know while getting your job done at the same time. So, how do we make legal compliance less of an HR nightmare?

Turn on the news and you’ll hear about the latest lawsuit between an employee and an organization. Social media can grab hold of a simple, easy to resolve situation and get thousands of people involved in 5 minutes.  Litigation is expensive, and a horrible time drain – even when you didn’t did anything wrong!  The topics often range from fair pay, retaliation to discrimination in addition to the widely publicized harassment.

Executives want to know that their HR house is in order, that they don’t have to worry about unexpected lawsuits.  For the HR person, we never know when something is going to come up because often these cases are filed with no basis. Businesses settle claims with the EEOC and Department of Labor because it’s easier than fighting them. It can be a waste of organizational time, talent, and resources.

Here are steps you can take to ensure that your HR team is doing all you can to keep legal compliance in check without it becoming an HR nightmare.

1. Review Your Employee Handbook Annually

Having an employee handbook is essential to all organizations. But if you don’t follow and enforce your written policies, you’ll be headed for disaster.

Review your employee handbook and answer the following:

  • Are you following the policies that are outlined in your employee handbook?
  • Do your employees sign off that they have received and will abide by the policy?
  • Have you added policies for Social Media, FMLA, BOYD and other “new” requirements?
  • Have you checked State and Local laws to see what new obligations they require this year?

2. Have an Anti-harassment Policy and provide Training

Many states have made training a requirement, and we anticipate many will follow that process in the next year.

You should have a written policy that clearly:

  • Defines harassment
  • Outlines who in your organization to report harassment to
  • Details how claims will be investigated and that there will be no retaliation for valid reports.

3. Address Technology

Technology is our business today – do a self check on these topics:

  • Do you have a BYOD (Bring your own device) policy that covers smartphone and tablet use in the workplace?
  • Are you restricting websites that are inappropriate in the workplace – not only relating to harassment but job search sites such as Indeed.com and glass door?
  • Do you have a way to store and search email communication that is compliant with the electronic communication requirements?
  • Have you implemented the NLRB guidelines on social media use?

This area is ever-changing, so what you had in place last year may need to be updated for the new year.

4. Fair Labor Standards Act Review

It’s coming! We anticipate an update to FLSA soon. To prepare, you’ll want to review the following:

  • When was the last time you reviewed the exempt status of positions?
  • Are your overtime policies being enforced according to the law?
  • Are you using independent contractors that might not be in compliance?
  • For those in multiple locations, are all locations paying minimum wage properly?

This will be a critical area for review as the Department of Labor updates the FLSA regulations, likely to be published by early fall.

5. New laws for 2022 and 2023

Many local and state legislatures are taking employment matters into their own hands. A myriad of new laws will go into effect every year. Many of these new laws will focus on paid time off, training obligations, marijuana use, the disclosure of past pay and arrest records. Make sure you know what you have to comply with– and how to stay on top of changing information!

Thanks for reading!

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