Employment laws and regulations can be confusing, and it can be daunting for employers to try to comply with the incredible number of legal requirements. In this blog post, we will provide tips for employers on how to approach staying compliant with employment laws and regulations. We will also discuss some of the most common employment law violations, so that you can try to avoid them.
1. Familiarize yourself with employment laws and regulations in your state. First and foremost, it is important to familiarize yourself with the employment laws that apply to your business based on its size and location. There are a number of federal laws that may govern the employment relationship such as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Each state also has their own employment laws and regulations.
Some common employment law violations include:
failing to properly classify employees under the FLSA and failing to pay overtime to employees that are entitled to it;
discriminating against employees based on their age, race, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), national origin, religion, disability, veteran status, genetic information, or other protected category under federal or state law; and
failing to accommodate an employee or an applicant entitled to a reasonable accommodation.
The law is constantly changing, and what was legal yesterday may not be legal today. It's important to stay up-to-date on the latest changes in the law, and make sure that your policies reflect those changes.
2. Create an employee handbook that outlines the company's policies and procedures.
Once you have a basic understanding of the applicable laws, you should make sure that your policies and procedures are designed to ensure that your company complies with the laws. One of the very best things an employer can do is develop an employee handbook that outlines all employment policies and procedures. A handbook gives employees the knowledge of what is expected of them and what they are entitled to, as well as gives company management a playbook of what to do and what not to do. It is important for every company, regardless of size or industry, to have an employee handbook.
Because laws are always changing, an employee handbook should be a living document and should be updated as needed.
3. Make sure all new employees are given a copy of the employee handbook.
A handbook is only as good as access to it. Physical printed-out handbooks are less common today. More often, policies and procedures are available on an intranet or electronically. When new employees are hired, they should be given access to the company's policies and procedures, and all employees should receive a copy of the updated employee handbook when any changes are made. New employees should sign off that they received the handbook at the outset of employment, and all employees should sign a document acknowledging receipt whenever an update has issued. This will allow you to prove that the employee received (and thus should have known about) the company's policies.
4. Train your managers on how to comply with employment laws and regulations.
It is important for managers to be familiar with the employment laws and regulations that apply to their company, as well as with all company policies, since they are the ones that are tasked with enforcing the policies. Managers should also understand how to handle employee complaints and what steps to take if they become aware of a potential violation. To do this, managers should receive regular trainings. These trainings should include:
the company's mission statement and values
the types of discrimination that are illegal
microagressions and implicit bias
wage and hour laws
ADA and FMLA compliance
Regular training will help ensure that your managers are compliant with the law, which in turn helps protect your business from any potential legal trouble. And remember, whenever someone is promoted into a manger role, give them the training they need to be successful and protect the company!
5. Conduct regular training sessions for all employees on topics such as sexual harassment and workplace safety.
Just as important as having a handbook is training employees on what the policies mean. Some states even require certain annual trainings. Trainings may be done in person or online, and should always have an opportunity for employees to ask questions. The training sessions should be conducted by a manager or supervisor who is familiar with the policies and how to implement them. All employees in attendance should sign an acknowledgment form stating that they have received the training. This helps protect the company in case of future violations by showing which employees were aware of any new policy changes/additions, etc., as well as providing documentation if needed later on down the road (e.g., when investigating allegations).
By familiarizing yourself with the law, developing compliant policies and procedures, and communicating them to your employees, you can minimize the risks of legal issues down the road, and can set the stage for a great workplace!