It’s a new year. Time for a fresh start. An opportunity to wipe the slate clean.
In the human resources world, this is a great time to look at one of your most important functions – Compliance. No, it’s not sexy or fun, but this is the HR function that keeps you and your company out of trouble, and ensures you are doing the right thing for the employer and the employees.
Here are some steps you can take to be sure you are on the right track to kick off the new year.
Posters & Forms
In most states, the minimum wage increased on January 1st. Many states also have poster requirements that must be updated with the changes. Florida’s minimum wage has increased to $8.56 per hour and for Federal Contractors, the rate is now $10.80 per hour. Click here for the updated minimum wage posters.
Proper maintenance of your I-9 forms means regularly reviewing forms for accuracy and purging forms you no longer need. Best practice says to keep the I-9 forms in two separate binders, one for current employees and one for terminated employees. These forms need to be kept for three years or one year after the employment ends. For example, if an employee is with you for one year, you need to keep the I-9 for three years after the date of hire. If the employee was with your company for 8 years, you need to keep it for 9 years.
It is also a best practice to ensure your application for employment, background authorizations and other forms completed by applicants are up-to-date and in compliance with local and state laws. Keep in mind that most employment laws are based on where the employee works. Multiple jurisdictions and states can trip up employers so be sure you understand which laws apply to your employees.
Last month I wrote about the changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act. These changes took effect on January 1st. If you haven’t already done so, review your salaried employees and ensure they are now making at least $684 per week, or $35,568 per year. There are many nuances to the new Department of Labor salary threshold that may come into play, so ensure you are taking advantage of the new options, but still paying the employees appropriately. Click here for last month’s FLSA post.
Many employers also give raises at the beginning of the new year. If this is part of your practice, make sure your salary-based benefits have also been adjusted. Group life insurance, short and long-term disability and 401k’s can all be impacted by a change in salary.
New Applicable Laws Based on Employee Count
Congratulations – you’re growing. Now is the time to see if you have, or soon will, cross a new employee count threshold. Planning ahead and ensuring management understands the HR side of growth is important in keeping the company compliant with the new rules they must follow. Here are some of the federal laws that take effect at certain employee thresholds:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
COBRA (health insurance continuance)
Affirmative Action (for federal contractors with $50,000+ in contracts)
Affordable Care Act (ACA)
EEO-1 reporting for federal contractors
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Form 5500 (benefit reporting)
EEO-1 reporting for all employers
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act (WARN)
Finally, if you haven’t had an HR audit completed recently, or ever, it’s probably a good time to look into getting one done. Because of the many local, state and federal laws and regulations, employers are under continuing pressure to ensure compliance with many common and obscure rules.
HR Audits should look at not only the technical compliance with laws, they should also review the life cycle of employees from recruitment to termination and all the steps in between. Additionally, the audit should review the policies of the company as well as the practices of supervisors and managers. Just because there is a policy doesn’t mean employees or managers are following it.
Compliance won’t necessarily give you a direct return on your investment, however not complying with employment laws can cost you a great deal in the end. This is not something we like to do but compliance is a necessary component in the life of an employer. When we get it right and put in a system to ensure we remain compliant, we can focus on things that can make a true impact on employees and performance. Stay tuned for the next installment – Leadership!