Getting compliant with new employment laws and policies is like getting those annoying software updates. As soon as you get used to one update, it seems like another one pops up. Changes to employment laws routinely take effect at the start of each year. Software changes are a bit more frequent.
The bad news is you have to review your company’s compliance at least annually. The good news is that you can plan for “updates” of your own. Here are some changes to consider in employment policies and procedures because, one way or the other, you’re going to need to get your business in compliance.
Review your employee handbook
An employee handbook should be filled with useful information that employees need to know about their workplace, such as compensation, benefits, rights, rules, and procedures. But even if an experienced employment lawyer drafted your handbook, don’t assume all is well. After all, when was the last time someone reviewed it?
A compliance trap that catches many employers is the failure to regularly update their employee handbook to reflect changes in the law or new policies that result from corporate restructuring. For example, you may need to update your employee handbook or policies for legal developments such as:
- Changes to the tax treatment of off-payroll labor
- New reference period rules for calculating holiday pay
- Expanded anti-harassment training requirements for small businesses
If you haven’t taken a comprehensive look at your handbook and employment policies in over a year, now is the time to sit down with your human resources department and an employment law attorney for a review. Don’t get caught with a handbook that lacks critical employment policies or holds employees to standards that no longer apply.
Don’t make your handbook an employment contract
An attorney can draft proper disclaimer language to ensure that nothing in your handbook or policies contains a promise of employment or benefits and that major policy changes are communicated to the workforce legally and effectively. For example, if you make significant changes to an employment benefit, do you need to give your employees something in return for accepting the change? A lawyer can let you know.
Protect your employees’ personal information
With data breaches on the rise, you should review how your company manages employee data. Here are the big questions:
- What’s your company doing with employees’ personal information?
- Is personnel data kept in electronic form encrypted and password-protected?
- How does your company maintain employees’ medical or health information?
- How do you ensure that your employees’ sensitive information is not viewed, used, or even stolen by unauthorized users?
If you didn’t know, hackers want your employees’ personal information. Draft data security rules with your employment policies to ensure employees protect their passwords, avoid suspicious email, stay off insecure websites, and follow social media standards.
Update your workplace employment postings
Most employers know about the posters that are required by law to be displayed in the workplace, but simply posting them is not enough. Like employment policies and handbooks, workplace postings need to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
Small businesses sometimes have different compliance requirements than larger companies, but it’s important to make sure that your workplace postings are accurate and compliant. If you’re a small business without a large human resources department, it can be easy for a regular “poster review” to get overlooked. Dozens of companies sell employment posters online, but the Department of Labor provides them for free. The topics covered include:
- Fair Labor Standards Act/Minimum Wage
- Workplace Safety (OSHA)
- Equal Employment Opportunity
- Family and Medical Leave Act (which is not applicable to some small employers)
- Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act
- Employee Rights for Workers With Disabilities Paid at a Special Minimum Wage
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act
- Military Leave (USERRA) Rights
Individual states may have their own posting requirements for state laws; check with your state’s department of labor or equal employment opportunity office to determine any state requirements. If you’re lucky, they may even send you an update.
As you get your company into compliance, don’t lose sight of recruitment
Employment policies are important for employers and employees, but equally important is having a good strategy to staff your company. To keep up with the job market, turn to Monster Hiring Solutions where you’ll find help with expert recruiting tips, the latest hiring trends, and other valuable resources.
Legal Disclaimer: None of the information provided herein constitutes legal advice on behalf of Monster.