As an HR professional, you'll play a pivotal role in how successful your company is. Good Human Resource Management is essential for businesses of all sizes. In this blog, we will break down the top 10 things your HR group should know.
1. Getting complete and accurate I-9s & timely filing through E-Verify
Federal law requires every employer who recruits, refers for a fee, or hires an individual for employment in the US must complete a Form I-9. Similarly, the employee on the other side of this must provide documentation to their employer that shows their identity and authorization to work within 3 days of their first day of employment or they must be terminated.
On that 3rd day, employers must also submit this information into the E-Verify system. Failure to comply could result in employers receiving hefty fines and penalties.
2. Ensuring employees are not misclassified as an independent contractor
While there are many ways to determine whether or not a worker should be classified as an employee or independent contractor, one of the simplest approaches is looking at the degree of control a company has over the work being done. If a worker is being told where and when to work, which tools they need to use, and how to execute the job, it’s most likely this worker is an employee. Failing to classify a worker as an employee could result in major fines, penalties, and even legal action.
3. Ensuring Personnel Records are separated and sorted appropriately with I-9s in a separate file completely
Employee records need to be kept in an organized fashion with things like job-related documentation in one file. Other items such as medical records, I-9 forms, investigation documents, and security clearance records should all be kept in separate folders.
4. Following the FMLA process consistently
If a business is deemed a Covered Employer under the terms of the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)g, employers must consistently apply the steps of the FMLA process to all employees regardless of their individual eligibility. At a bare minimum, this includes hanging a poster and providing new hires with the general notice. When an employer learns that an employee may need to leave, they must provide the Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities to the employee within 5 days of learning of a need for leave.
5. Not engaging in the interactive process fully before deciding to terminate an employee with a disability
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in many areas. For employers, this means that every aspect of employment touches the ADA in some way. When an employee’s performance or attendance begins to decline, it is wise for an employer to start the interactive process with an employee to determine if there may be an accommodation that needs to be made for an employee’s disability. Disability, in the eyes of the ADA, is very broad and pertains to physical or mental impairments that substantially limit major life activities. It does not mean that an employee with a disability is immune from termination, but it does mean that before an employer jumps to a rash termination decision, they should evaluate the situation appropriately to ensure they don’t unintentionally run afoul of this law.
6. Make sure your Employee Handbook is up to date with both federal and state guidelines
An Employee Handbook can absolutely save an employer when it comes to employment decisions and allows for consistent application of employment actions. Employers may open themselves up to discrimination and retaliation claims when they make one-off decisions based on how they feel about employees. It is a far easier case to defend when an employer can base their decision off of a historic application of written company policies that have been vetted as best practice and consistently applied.
7. Training Managers on how to be good leaders and not relying on HR to always be the bad guy
Employees are often promoted into management positions because they were good at their job but may have never had anyone sit them down and explain to them how to manage people. What’s more, Supervisors often manage employees based off of how they were managed, which probably wasn’t correct even back then. Human Resources should never be used as a substitute for a Manager to do one of the less savory aspects of the job, which is having difficult conversations with employees to correct behavior. HR is there to ensure documentation has been taken care of and that Managers are following the letter of the law. They are the middle ground looking out for the best interest of the company and the employees.
8. Ensuring Workplace Employment Posters are current and all necessary posters are hung
The number one obligation of employers is to notify employees of their rights; employment posters are the easiest way to do that. Federal & State laws ultimately dictates the specific posters that an employer needs to hang depending on various factors like whether a company is a federal contractor or what industry they operate in.
9. Disposing of or retaining the appropriate employment records per governmental regulations
Record-keeping rules abound when it comes to employers. These rules require employers to create and retain certain information related to their compliance with federal laws. Not only does keeping files longer than necessary create an issue with space, but nowadays it is a matter of security. Cyber thieves can’t steal data you are not retaining, which reduces liability to former employees in the event of a breach.
10. Documenting performance and disciplinary records
In the employment world, it’s always an employer’s word against an employee’s. In the absence of any documentation, how can an employer prove that what they said happened, actually happened? Although not impossible, it’s difficult, to say the least. Just like your fifth-grade math teacher implored you to show your work, the same applies to this context. Show how you arrived at your decision with well-documented files.
For more information, or to connect with one of our team members, give us a call at 601-948-2900.
Kellye Smith, PHR® VP / Resources Team Leader
Kellye Smith has been with Ross & Yerger for 11 years. Kellye often speaks to companies of all sizes about HR, risk management, leadership, and how to connect the dots on tangible workplace change.
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Ross & Yerger – one of the largest independent, privately-held insurance agencies in the Southeast – was established in 1860 and is headquartered in Jackson, MS. The firm has 127 employees throughout their five offices in Jackson, Tupelo, Hattiesburg, New Orleans, and Memphis. Ross & Yerger is licensed in all 50 states and offers a full range of brokerage services, including insurance, employee benefits, bonds, financial services, and risk management consulting. For more about Ross & Yerger, visit www.rossandyerger.com.