Every business has an HR management component that understands legal compliance is critical. But do you know the most common legal mistakes made by HR?
Your HR staff is responsible for a number of tasks and managing them all effectively can be overwhelming. But they are still human and these means mistakes are made periodically. The problem is that, with HR responsibilities, these mistakes could potentially cost your business hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and possibly much more.
Compliance Is Not an Option With Labor Laws
Part of the problem is that HR personnel are required to know, understand and comply with a myriad of rules, regulations and laws on the federal level, the state level and even the county and city level, in many cases. Keeping up with these requirements can be a full-time job. Staying compliant can be a nightmare.
While it is certainly understood that the cost of non-compliance means possible fines, fees, and steep government penalties, there is also the time and labor involved to go back and re-do paperwork, correct existing errors, and fill out additional forms. The added labor that is the result of mistakes simply adds to the cost.
Because of the sheer immensity of requirements that must be complied with, the potential for errors is quite great. However, here are five common legal mistakes made in HR compliance practices that can be avoided:
1) Misclassifying Workers
Proper employee classification involves a number of factors to consider, but mistakes are often made by only basing determination on the employee's level of responsibility and salary level.
Workers can be classified as employees, independent contractors, statutory employees, or statutory non-employees. These descriptions all come with their own potential for misinterpretation. A first step to clarify the IRS definitions of employment status is to refer to the IRS Publication 15-A.
2) Privacy Issues
One major mistake is failing to advise employees of the company's privacy policies. Workers must be told clearly not to expect privacy on their work computers. Directly related to this is improper monitoring of employee computer use. A number of states, for example, require that employers give notice to employees that they are being monitored electronically.
Employers are being sued by employees because personal information was compromised as the result of a security breach. While most companies do take steps to keep personal information secure, having a truly secure system in place along with strict access policies, etc. should be seen as a mandatory HR function.
3) Assigning Proper Accommodations
"Accommodation" can be defined as "a determination in favor of the employee." This is a responsibility of employers and they must provide accommodation options for employees who have a disability, are pregnant, called to active military duty or has a family member called to active military duty, or requests to engage in a religious observance/practice.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifically prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of workers’ disabilities. According to Nolo.com,
A reasonable accommodation is assistance or changes to a position or workplace that will enable an employee to do his or her job despite having a disability. Under the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship.
4) Lack of Proper Training
Failing to properly train supervisors and managers is a common mistake made. This is especially risky in light of the recent #MeToo movement and the heightened attention to sexual harassment. When HR fails to train managers and supervisors as mandated by state and federal laws they can get employers into trouble.
Whether knowingly or out of ignorance, they may make rude, racist or sexist statements. They may commit acts that are unintentionally discriminatory; even so, the liability falls on the employers.
One of the best steps an organization and its HR management can take is educating managers and staff on the facts of workplace harassment, and sexual harassment in particular. A failure to acknowledge and recognize this issue, and the potential for harassment in their own organization, can lead to insufficient compliance to existing laws.
5) Recruiting and Hiring
Unfortunately, HR mistakes are often made in the recruiting and job candidate interview process. Hiring managers can sometimes ask about personal or protected characteristics during job interviews. These types of inquiries can cause an employer to be liable for discrimination if the applicant is not hired.
In California, for example, the so-called "ban the box" law prevents employers from reviewing an applicant's criminal record. In addition, California law prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, including benefits and other compensation information from previous employment.
Resources to Help You Stay Compliant
HR management and labor law compliance is often a labor-intensive obligation for employers. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources available for employers who choose to manage their own HR functions.
Another option to consider is outsourcing to a third-party workforce management service. By outsourcing these functions you can also outsource all of the requirements that are currently on your HR staff to maintain compliance.
If your company would like to learn more about its obligations, or acquire resources to deal with payroll and other HR requirements, Accuchex recently partnered with HR Solutions Partners to offer its customers the most up-to-date and professional human resources management solutions available.
To learn more about the different levels of Human Resource Management services available, please click this link. To learn more about the other services Accuchex provides, click on the button below to get our free consultation.