A brand New Year is upon us. It is a great time to ensure your business is compliant with employment laws; protected from non-compliance penalties and fees; as well as prepared to avoid workplace litigation. According to the EEOC, lawsuits are on the rise, with the average workplace lawsuit being more than $250,000 (not including lawyer fees), if the case goes to trial it could cost in excess of $1 MILLION. Additionally, government fines and penalties for non-compliance of employment laws can be as much as $100,000 or more per violation. Therefore, it is essential to protect your business assets by performing the following tasks:
1. Review company polices and procedures; update/revise as appropriate
Policies and procedures are not set in stone. Standards change and ideas about best practices change and evolve. Therefore, it is important to have a plan in place to routinely review some or all of your policies and procedures. Additionally, changes/revisions in policies and procedures may be necessary when:
- You have suffered a workplace lawsuit and/or government audit. A critical issue/incident has occurred, i.e. litigation, state audit, sexual harassment complaints, increased turnover of key employees, increase in disciplinary actions, new management, etc.
- Laws and Regulations change. Changes in applicable legal standards, laws, rules, and/or court decisions occur frequently
- A significant change in management concepts as to best practices, and/or procedures, regarding company issues
2. Attain, review and/or update your Employee Handbook, as appropriate
Your Employee Handbook can be the most important communication tool between you and your employees. Having written rules and policies not only help Managers and Supervisors manage the workplace, they also may be your protectors when faced with litigation. Even if you have only one or two employees, it is best to establish guidelines. The most effective Employee handbook include:
- Anti-discrimination and harassment policies
- Compensation and benefits
- Conduct, dress code, and confidentiality
- Social media policy
- Computers, e-mail, and technology usage
- Emergency procedures
Possessing an Employee Handbook also saves you time to spend running your business instead of verbally reviewing and repeating policies to employees. Employee Handbooks also facilitate new hire orientation and improve employee employer relations.
3. Update job descriptions and make sure they are ADA Compliant
Up-to-date, ADA compliant, job descriptions are not only necessary to attract and recruit the best-qualified candidates for jobs; they are the foundation for most Human Resource functions. It is crucial that employees understand their job responsibilities and tasks. Additionally, job descriptions are essential for:
- Employee training
- Performance evaluations
- Workforce planning
- FMLA claims
Risks of Not Having Up-to-Date Job Descriptions
- If the job descriptions are not updated or don’t exist, it could cost you massive fines when faced with litigation. Conversely, if your job description is ADA Compliant, and up-to-date, it could be beneficial in a litigious situation.
- Possessing a badly written job description is as bad or worse than not having a job description at all.
4. Evaluate Management Training Needs
In order for Managers and Supervisors to manage the workforce and to perform their jobs well, it is important that they have the information and tools they need to help protect the company assets. Managers should be properly trained in observing workplace violations, such as: Harassment, discrimination, inappropriate conduct, rule violations, etc. Managers and Supervisors should also have adequate training and understanding of employment laws, including: ADA, ADEA, FLSA, FMLA, and EEO.
5. Conduct an HR Audit
Learn where you may be non-compliant with employment laws/regulations and vulnerable to costly workplace lawsuits. Conduct a thorough HR audit and review all aspects of your human resource processes, including:
- Hiring and orientation
- Compensation and Benefits
- Performance management and evaluation
- Policies and procedures
- Disciplines, grievances, and complaints
- Retention and turnover
- Opportunities for outsourcing services
The HR Audit can help you identify high risk areas, avoid litigation, ensure compliance with employment laws, save time by eliminating obsolete processes, and improve workflow by increasing efficiencies.
6. Get a copy of my book, 101 Costly HR Mistakes… and How to Fix Them!
Sexual harassment, workplace violence, discriminatory practices, retaliatory actions, inconsistent processes, bad practices, etc., can quickly become HR mistakes, which can lead to employers suffering from massive lawsuits; as well as costly non-compliance penalties and fines. Nelson wrote her book, 101 Costly HR Mistakes…and How To Fix Them! due to concerns regarding the related rise in workplace lawsuits, which increased 2000% since 1995, with the average lawsuit settlement being $250,000 (not including lawyer fees), which could cost in excess of $1 MILLION, if the case goes to trial.
Employers do not intentionally violate regulations; however, oftentimes employers make mistakes without knowing of the missteps. These mistakes could actually set the company up for compliance violations. This book will point out the top costly HR mistakes to ensure avoidance of high-priced compliance fees and penalties.
Start the year off right by protecting your business.