Health Based Discrimination at Work – Can it be Proven for a Valid Claim?
Many individuals out there can feel discriminated against in the workplace, on the basis of certain medical conditions or diagnosed illnesses which they may be suffering from. Although this seems quite backward and narrow-minded, health based discrimination at work is not uncommon, and plagues many seemingly healthy and stable work environments.
Workplace discrimination on the basis of health problems doesn’t necessarily come from the employer; in many instances co-workers can also be to blame. Sometimes an employer can be indirectly involved and held liable for such antisocial occurrences because they have failed to act timely or appropriately in response to a given employee’s claim of discrimination. For a case of health based discrimination to make it to court and be proven, there are certain conditions and factors to be considered and accounted for.
- First and foremost, the discriminated staff member must be diagnosed with the particular condition, disease or injury for which they were discriminated against. The diagnosis must be done by a qualified, licensed medical practitioner in order for it to be valid. In some cases, and according to specific state legislation, it might be necessary for the diagnosis to be done by a medical practitioner who practices within the political or geographical limits of the state or territory. It is not necessary for the employer to be aware of such condition or illness, yet this is possible, as information about the problem could have been disclosed informally by the employee, without the intent of suing the employer on this basis later on.
- Federal and private sector employers are not legally allowed to collect information about a job applicant’s medical state as this would compromise the fairness of the job selection process and likely to bias the opinion of interviewers and the employer. If an employee is discriminated against by colleagues or employers, and he or she has been diagnosed with a particular medical condition or illness, then they have every legal right to pursue matters further and possibly sue the employer for compensation. However, for one such case to be proven in court there would have to be sufficient amount of solid evidence or a single piece of evidence which is sufficient enough to stand in court.
- Usually, employees who are discriminated against on a health basis, and who aren’t members of a particular labour or industry union will seek the assistance of a workers compensation lawyer who deals with workplace health discrimination cases. The employee will be asked to provide a sufficient enough piece of evidence proving that there actually was a case of health based discrimination. Such cases can be really difficult to prove, plus the employee filing the claim will also be under some scrutiny as there are always two sides to every story, regardless of who is right and who is wrong.
- Generally, proof of health based workplace discrimination can be derived from many situations. For example, when an employee with a diagnosed medical condition or illness is refused a due promotion, or refused an earned pay raise, without any clear or valid reason other than being sick, then that is definite proof of health based discrimination. One the same note, any negative change in working conditions, including increase of required working hours on behalf of the employer can also be treated as health based discrimination. Furthermore, inappropriate jokes, hurtful humour and other such comments on behalf of staff members are also treated as discriminatory or even abusive, and must be presented as proof of health based discrimination. Workers compensation lawyers dealing with such cases would advise employees to keep records of such occurrences and detail all specifics concerning the incident, although this might be painful and insulting for the employee.
Where to Now
Any staff member who has been discriminated against on the basis of poor health, or diagnosed illness has the option to pursue their rights and have the matter settled through legal means. In order to build and file a valid discrimination case, the employee must have exhausted all other legal means of receiving justice. In other words, if immediate supervisors, department managers, or HR officers of the company have not taken the necessary measures to investigate, discuss and deal with the claim properly, then the employee in question is legally allowed to seek the services of a workers compensation lawyer.
It is crucial for the discrimination complaint to be filed within one hundred and eighty days after the incident or incidents took place. In some cases, where state legislation allows, complaints can be filed up to three hundred days after the incident. Generally, the legislation which protects employees with disabilities or medical conditions is the Americans With Disabilities Act
, shortly known as ADA, though it is only applicable if the employer is actually aware of the disease, illness or disability from which the employee is suffering at the time of the discrimination incident. However, the methods through which federal and private sector employees file a discrimination complaint against their employer or colleagues are somewhat different, and the applicable legislation also varies, though this is something which will be determined by the lawyer.
Information as Means to Prevention
Obviously, having to endure and suffer from discrimination of any kind is hurtful, frustrating and degrading for individuals. Different forms of discrimination, including those based on health conditions, illnesses and disabilities must be eradicated once and for all, unfortunately this is easier said than done.
In many instances, preventing discrimination is the best way to deal with it. Prevention of discrimination can take many forms, from educating staff members and operations management on how to work, treat and respect people with certain health conditions and disabilities, to helping such individuals to find a better suited employment position – without of course making this a discriminatory process or practice itself. This the principle of information as means to prevention in action. Contrary to common belief, there are many job positions which can be fulfilled by individuals with special health requirements. Human resources outsourcing
, or its more advanced form – professional employer organizations, is one of the ways through which employers can actually assist such individuals with finding the right position. PEO companies are also experts in minimizing employment risk as well as HR management and can help small businesses avoid all types of discrimination claims through development of policy, education and training in the workplace.About the Author: David Drasnin is a freelance writer and current consultant to The Bulldog lawyers of Shor & Levin, P.C. in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.
Businesses started to refer to employees as Human Assets a few years ago. The idea was that, once you enhanced the description, you elevated employee worth. That was about the time they started to call workers “associates” and “partners.” Only the very best of workplaces really made that meaningful. As long as “human assets” are seen as bodies and hands, nothing much is going to change. And, out-sourcing the assets doesn’t seem to make a difference in the business’s culture. Human assets add value
When the business actually considers employees as assets, it assigns value to their time and talents. Such employees are more than a headcount. They add value and fill needs. When a business seeks to optimize these values, it treats its employees differently.
Will the culture survive a PEO?
- To optimize these assets, a business studies employee needs.
- To continue the optimization, the business needs to plan on talent acquisition.
- To deepen the culture, managers must be accountable for increasing the value of their human assets – just as they might be expected to justify the ROI on a capital investment.
- To extend the values, the business must recruit talent that is inherently motivated to participate and pursue the same-shared values.
- To improve the values, the business needs to recruit talent with specifically identified skills and competencies who willingly train and collaborate.
- To institutionalize values, allow and enable people to grow professionally.
What happens to a human asset-based culture when a PEO appears? If the PEO contract is well planned, nothing negative will happen. But, plans are rarely perfect and seldom carried out well. So, it makes some sense to embrace some tips:
- There is no reason management cannot continue the habits listed above.
- Culture is the responsibility of the CEO and the rest of the c-suite; Human Resources does not own it.
- Without HR management, senior management can focus on building employee relationships.
- Even with a PEO, management can continue and improve reward systems that combine rewards for individual contribution and team performance as well.
- Cultivate a leadership that communicates the expectation for personal accountability on the part of everyone.
Nothing here requires administration, so shifting HR administration to the PEO should not be noticed. A clerk in the controller office can handle any need for business interface with the PEO. When company growth and expansion warrant, the business might create a senior-level position - Vice President of Human Assets or Human Assets Officer - who is accountable for increasing the value of human assets through strategic planning in talent acquisition, training, talent assessment, succession planning, and enabling people to grow.
Download our complimentary white paper on how to measure, review and nurture company culture.
While it may seem that converting traditional, full-time employees into contractors is an easy and cost-effective way to avoid the new costs of the PPACA, recent court decisions have made that choice very difficult indeed. In addition, there are some significant differences between an employee and an independent contractor that have tremendous ramifications on the employee-employer relationship.
With these facts in mind, here are some details that the small and mid-sized business owner should consider before retaining any “independent contractors.”
The Legal Lay of the Land
There is no doubt that “contract” employees cost a business less as they do not consume any benefits and are also less paperwork intensive. Still, large corporations such as Microsoft and CVS/Caremark have learned to their chagrin that they cannot just declare an employee as a “contract” employee.
Instead, the courts have ruled, in several disparate cases, that an employee that looks and acts like one must be treated as such regardless of the designation by the company. Failure to act appropriately in these cases can result in severe tax penalties and also leave the company open to lawsuits from the affected employee.
The Internal Revenue Service has some strict guidelines as to what constitutes a contract employee. These guidelines are essentially absolute and can even transcend an agreement between the employer and the employee. In short, be sure that you are treating a contract employee in a manner consistent with the IRS rules.
The general rule of thumb as stated by the IRS is that, “an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done.” In other words, the contractor must have complete control over their own hours, schedule and work process. If not, they aren’t a contractor no matter how they are compensated.
Concomitant with the IRS definition, an independent contractor does not serve at the pleasure of their client once a contract is signed. Instead, the business client cedes control of the project and must usually wait for designated milestones or total completion before providing additional input. In other words, an independent contractor is paid to complete a task and not to simply report to work.
In trying to complete a project in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible, a business owner may reveal pricing, products and procedures that will give the independent contractor an advantage if they choose to compete with your company in the future. Non-compete clauses are far more enforceable against traditional, full-time employees than independent contractors.
As mentioned above, misclassification of employees – even if done in good faith – by an employer may subject them to costly penalties from the IRS. In addition to paying the full amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes due, the IRS may also require you to pay the employees federal income tax withholding while still crediting the employee with the payment.
Employee Legal Issues
Insurance companies have never been accused of being generous and most of your policies will not cover independent contractors in any way, shape or form. Contractors hurt on the job will instead sue you for their damages. In addition, misclassified workers may sue you for lost benefits and OT not to mention any class action lawsuits if your firm has deep enough pockets.
Understanding the subtleties of an independent contractor relationship and the differences between them and other employees is a complicated task even when the legal landscape is not changing on a regular basis. Instead of dedicating in-house resources to the issue, many small and medium sized companies have chosen to use Professional Employer Organizations.
PEOs are experts at dealing with independent contractors and can guide you in avoiding many of the problems detailed above. The simple truth is that a PEO can save you money by streamlining your HR, avoiding issues with the IRS and lawyers and allow you to concentrate on building your business.
When it comes to their own respective industries, every successful company has demonstrated that it can manage the core competencies needed to remain competitive. In many cases however, these same companies are blinded by their success and do not realize that they are not as capable in other areas such as recruiting and hiring. Allowing human capital management experts such as Professional Employer Organizations to manage the recruiting process is an excellent way to handle the needs of your company for the following reasons:Your HCM is Ready to Enter the 21st Century
Time waits for no company and any that refuse to recognize this fact are doomed to failure. All forward-thinking companies must look to technology and tech-savvy partners to remain competitive in meeting their long-term workforce needs. Fortunately, PEOs are able to leverage the best technological solutions over scores of clients, and find, recruit and hire the best talent for your organization.Overconfidence Breeds Contempt
The current poor economic climate may give some business owners and executives the idea that top talent is readily available. Frankly, this perception is just a myth. Top talent is always in demand. In times of high unemployment, it is the mediocre employees who are searching for work. PEOs understand that it is necessary to develop a broad and deep pool of quality applicants. In this manner, they can help ensure that you get the right talent when you need it regardless of the “employment situation.”The Company is Going Global
While you may have the expertise to muddle along and find good employees in the U.S. market, how will you translate that expertise into Polish, Chinese or Indian? The simple fact is that very few companies can readily and affordably find new employees in distant markets without the help of outside experts. A PEO with a global reach or global partners can easily overcome the obstacles of distance, culture and language to attract the right talent to your expanding business. Your HCM Tools are Not Optimized
The newest generations of employees demand that potential employers interact with them on their own terms. This fact means that companies must not only provide a standard hiring website but also take advantage of social media sites and provide mobile connectivity. Anything less brands your company as a dinosaur and can have a seriously negative impact on your recruiting and hiring objectives. In addition, the best HCM
tools provided by PEOs can source job seekers through unusual channels, engage passive candidates and improve the entire applicant experience. All of these factors contribute to a significantly reduced time to hire with simultaneous reduced costs.Your Hiring Demands Have Ballooned
While a need to quickly hire an expanded workforce is one that most companies would dearly like to have, it is still a problem for the HR director tasked with solving the issue. Let’s face it. Most HR departments are funded to provide what is needed at the moment and nothing more. When their duties are expanded exponentially without any additional resources, they are really just being set up to fail. A PEO, on the other hand, has dozens of clients and can readily redistribute its assets to concentrate on a client’s immediate problem. PEOs Can Be the Tie Breaker
The inevitable turn to the upside in the economy will make talent acquisition far more difficult and expensive to acquire. Still, hiring the best talent is the only sure road to success. The relationships that a PEO develops today with the most desirable candidates can deliver significant results in the future. Not only can they cut costs during the recruitment and hiring processes, they can also be the tie-breaker when a candidate cannot choose between two equally appealing offers. Recruiting is Not Your Focus
In the purest and simplest terms, you and your team have a multitude of priorities other than recruiting
that dominate your workday. While all companies must try to do more with less, the most severely short-sighted drop recruiting and hiring into the laps of their most crucial employees. Initially, from a cost-cutting perspective, it may seem like a good idea but the recruiting effort becomes a half-hearted endeavor while the main focus of the team is diluted by the need to concentrate on extraneous affairs. In the end, no one, from the candidates to the owners benefit from this unfortunate situation. Superior and More Reliable Metrics Become Available
The steady and reliable introduction of new talent is vital to a growing company’s future. Not only can the experts at a PEO deliver this talent but they can document their utility in a variety of easily digestible metrics. In addition, these metrics can be used in the future when expansion forces a redistribution of talent. Why reinvent the wheel when the information is already available?Compliance and Legal Risks Are a Fact of Life
Talented amateurs have their place but it is not anywhere near unfair labor practices or discrimination lawsuits. This area is one where even the largest companies choose to place their best and brightest because the possible downside is so severe. A PEO has the resources, both legal and administrative, to effectively deal with compliance and legal issues. Dealing with the courts and government bureaucrats is a tedious, time-consuming, and aggravating process if you are not adequately prepared. Leave it to the professionals. You Gain the Benefits of Multiple Organizations
PEOs bring a wide range of experienced people to their clients. Nevertheless, a good PEO will learn from the best practices of their clients and adapt these strategies to improve their own processes. In addition, this knowledge is often transmitted to other clients. In the simplest terms, the use of a PEO can have a profoundly synergistic effect on all of their clients. The Bottom Line
The switch to a Professional Employer Organization is a fundamentally company-changing decision. However, that decision can provide a better recruiting strategy, a more responsive HR “department” and, most importantly, allow you to get back to the real business at hand, growing your company. Consider a PEO before embarking on your next recruitment drive.
Did you hear the joke about the company that prohibited its employees from using social media? It failed - laughably.
Realistically speaking, employers cannot successfully ban the use of social media by employees. If they try, they simply do not get it.
What employers can do is to embrace platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter as tools to build brand, and share corporate culture. Instead of wasting resources on discovery, documentation, and discipline, employers would be wiser to show employees how to use the innovation. There is much to learn in social media and there are some hard lines you can choose to take. While we have put together this list, there are additional arguments that can be made to do the opposite or at least to not be as stringent as we suggest.
- Encourage employee responsible use of social media. The law will not let you forbid employees from discussing their jobs – in real or virtual time.
- Publish employee guidelines for the appropriate use of social media. You can remind them that what they publish never really goes away. Messages can even be subpoenaed as evidence in litigation, if necessary, so it is not as private as they might think.
- Show them how their social media can enhance the businesses image on social sites also used by clients, friends, and prospects.
- Invite employees to join the company’s social media strategy as bloggers and forum mentors.
- Prohibit managers/supervisors from “friending” their subordinates to keep them from learning personal information they should not know and discourage inappropriate messaging.
The legislative direction is towards more protection than less, making it next to impossible for multi-state employers to navigate the regulations. Employees fired for social media comments have sued employers. State legislatures are acting to protect passwords from employers’ requests. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is monitoring employer responses to employee social media language. And, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) assured workers the right to concerted action, such as discussing working conditions, wages, benefits, safety concerns, and group response.
A significant problem arises when you try to balance this legislative prohibition with the corporate responsibility to intervene in workplace harassment and hostility played out online. There also is the problem of negligent hiring if you have not made a social media search. Even though legislative concerns may come and go with changes in the political mood, the NLRB and NLRA decisions have a lasting and broader effect.
What does a PEO do?
PEOs have to manage their internal employees, buffer their client/employers, and protect their own business interests.
- They stay on top of legislative changes in the states where they employ.
- They find a single employee behavior policy that navigates the differences in states’ approaches.
- They partner fully with client/employers on how the policy will be worded and implemented.
- They are on the same page with the client/employer regarding legal advice and their relative positions. For example, the employer cannot hide behind the PEO to avoid charges of restricting employees’ free exercise of rights and concerted action.
For more information, download our complimentary white paper, Opportunities and Challenges of Social Media in the Workplace. We welcome others to join the conversation on this topic.
Calendars chart your staff productivity – among other things. When employee attention shifts or dozes off, productivity and quality go out the window. Distracted workers do not good products make!
There are routines – personal, familial, and universal – that inform our workweek, health, and psychology. For example, a vacation may mean two weeks (80 hours) off the clock, but mentally and emotionally, the employee is gone for at least 48 hours before and after the 80.
There is not much you can do about this - except to build it into your performance expectations:
- January: Super Bowl weekend will cost you staff performance on the Monday following the Sunday game whether or not the employees show up.
- February: Valentine’s Day can be romantic or traumatic for some staff. If it is a Friday, their brains trail off starting Wednesday.
- March: March Madness covers weeks. Unfortunately for your business, there are too many games during the day. If you allow a March Madness pool on the floor, the employees will be on the internet – not work.
- April: The start of spring turns everyone’s fancy to things outdoors. Daydreaming may be your business’s enemy.
- May: Memorial Day ends the month with a Monday holiday, but watch the attention decline with the Wednesday before, and it won’t be fully back in place until after Labor Day.
- June: Vacations start weeks before their scheduled hours. In the meantime, there are graduations and other ceremonies.
- July: Hope that The 4th of July falls on the weekend, or they will stretch the one day into more.
- August: The kids are back to school and some off to college. There is shopping to do, and plans to make.
- September: Fall brings more daydreaming and absenteeism before and after Labor Day.
- October: The World Series is the last two weeks in the month, and with Halloween, this is a double curse.
- November: Thanksgiving planning starts at the beginning of the month and after effects roll through December.
- December: With all of December’s holidays, holy days, and New Year’s Eve, no one works in December.
So, what’s a small business owner to do?
Accept the fact that business performance is never a straight line. Rhythms and pulses dominate workflow. For example, your business month does not occur on the last day of the month. Your billing goes out sooner. Shipping and handling fulfill the last workday of the month. And, depending on the nature of the business, new orders are posted at intervals.
You can build these keys into your calendar and then, build around them. For example, consider the impact when one of these dates conflicts with one of the public dates. You can also “regulate” employee drift in other ways as well.
Redirecting employee drift:
- Address some concerns as a matter of policy. For example, you can justify prohibiting vacation or time off for all staff on certain occasions.
- Incentivize attendance formally and informally. Offer rewards for attendance or bring in pizza or lunch on the day before or after a holiday.
- Require all employees to schedule at least 50% of their vacation well in advance.
- Offer counter events. Fight distraction with other distraction. For example, celebrate off-the-wall holidays, such as Water a Flower Day (5/30), Embrace Your Geekness Day (7/13), International Talk Like A Pirate Day (9/19), and Wear Brown Shoes Day (12/4). There are also many days recognizing different foods, like hot dogs, cheese pizza, and the like, around which you can shape a workplace event.
Among the things you need to do is communicate the plan and purpose. A professional employer organization can assist in determining, aligning and communicating goals. Let your staff know in advance what to expect and invite them to share in how you can address the concerns as a team. You owe employees a fare wage for their work, and they owe you 100% of their time on the job. But, human nature being what it is, it sometimes needs shaping and motivation.
Technology and innovation have pushed and pulled business operations into an age where we may be able to do without Human Resources. The Human Resources functions in business management have been very self-protective and self-perpetuating. The function may have to reinvent itself or disappear.
For the sake of discussion, let’s distinguish between personnel and human resources. Personnel work takes on the business’s people-related administrative chores. It has been designed from the outside by the demands of regulatory agencies. Personnel staffs do payroll, file retention, data reporting, recruiting, on-boarding, discipline, and benefits administration. Quality HRIS (Human Resources Information System) software can do all this and more, and the HR interface can be moved to the company’s finance department. On the other hand, with a PEO (Professional Employer Organization), the PEO manages all these functions.
CEOs have come to treasure personnel data, especially where it immediately affects performance, productivity, and profit. Traditionally, HR would report to the c-suite on a monthly basis. Today, an HRIS platform can report in live feeds 24/7. A PEO can provide the same data and keep the c-suite current on benefits usage and claims ratios.
They do not teach benefits negotiations in HR degree or certification programs. Negotiation skills develop through experience. In this part of the corporation’s life, negotiation skill refers to the ability to secure benefits and workers’ compensation at the lowest premium possible. In the past, this depended on the experience of the HR professional. The PEO, however, has professional negotiators on staff. Their job is to exploit the volume discount available to the expanded employee pool.
- Employee Relations
HR has been a catchall place for employee communications, training, culture building, and compliance issues. The employee’s immediate manager and the company’s PEO can handle all this more sensibly and immediately. These responsibilities have led HR professionals to consider their position as the conscience of the company or as an employee advocate. But, advocacy and business ethics are the CEO’s leadership duty. Assigning those duties to HR could be considered an abrogation of leadership.
Clearly, a quality PEO relationship will eliminate the employees attached to these personnel duties with no negative impact. The HR pro may want to consider broadening their skills and be open to the survival paths that mine the same employee data for issues that will recognize and develop talent, re-organize the nature of work, and keep the CEO’s attention with information that makes human capital out of the human assets.
Human Resources professionals like to rescue employees. Chief financial pros want to save money. A Professional Employer Organization can satisfy both desires.The HR burden
Small business owners need a strategic approach to management of their employees from early in the business’s planning. The small business innovator approaches everything – but people – with a fresh and transforming passion. Entrepreneurs, for some reason or another, tend to fall back on traditional approaches to the people who work for them. Any new business will wrestle with numerous tasks and challenges in the first months and years, so it does not make sense for owners to take on complex human problems beyond their specific strengths and abilities.
People are a PEO’s job. The PEO provides a variety of human services – time and payroll management, employee benefits negotiation and delivery, tax filing and compliance, workers’ compensation administration and risk management
. They also recruit and on-board employees, assess performance and discipline, and manage leave and productivity metrics. Assign real time to each of these tasks, and you see how much time you can save by co-employing staff through a PEO.The CPA bargain
PEOs control 2% of the payrolls for companies with less than 100 employees, $81 million in payroll, and 2 to 3 million employees across the country and across industry lines. More small and mid-size employers are taking the advice of their financial advisors by outsourcing tasks to PEOs. To the chief financial function, all time is literally money. What the money pros like:
- The PEO is employer of record and assumes responsibility for compliance before the EEOC, NLRB, Title VII, FLSA, COBRA/ERISA, IRCA, ADA, and the rest of the regulatory alphabet soup.
- The PEO administers, pays, and reports IRS, State, FICA, and local payroll related taxes.
- The PEO takes advantage of its larger labor pool to negotiate employee benefits and workers’ compensation insurance rates from a position where economies of scale have a real impact.
- The PEO takes on the burden of proof on employee filings and compliance requirements.
- The PEO boasts a trained staff that is always on top of volatile employment law and practices.
The Controller/CPA/CFO’s best advice to the small business owner is to contract with a PEO. The most persuasive argument the finance pro can make is the appeal to the owner’s desire to free up his/her time and management resources to better focus on the business mission, productivity, market share, and profitability – the reasons you hung out your shingle in the first place.
The ever increasing complexity of governmental regulation demands that small and medium sized companies take a more in-depth look at the way they handle their payroll, benefits and other human capital management requirements. Still, the day to day necessities may distract owners or executives from what is a seemingly less important aspect of running their business.
In such situations, a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) may be just the solution to the dilemma. PEOs have the experience, expertise and resources to manage these sorts of HR problems while providing many additional benefits. Finding a PEO
is not difficult but it is important that a company make a concerted effort to find the right one to meet their needs. Here are some things to look for when making this critical decision:Financial Reliability
– A verifiable record of quarterly financial statements made by an independent, reputable CPA is essential. Any respectable PEO will have these documents readily available at any time. Many PEOs will also be accredited from the Employer Services Assurance Corporation (ESAC). This non-profit organization provides independent verification of a PEO’s compliance with all the necessary legal and financial requirements.References
– As with any other business service, a good PEO will have a list of clients and professional references. Speaking with these references will not only help you understand the value that the PEO brings to their clients but also whether or not their management style will fit with the one in your organization. Secondly, you should investigate the background and relevant experience of the PEO’s management staff to see if their capabilities can deliver on their service proposal.Use of Best Practices
– No one needs to reinvent the wheel. PEOs should manage their own processes as well as they promise to run yours. The ongoing investigation and use of industry “best practices” is the hallmark of any well-run company. Compliance with existing state federal laws and regulations should simply be accomplished as a matter of course. However, the benefits, tax and hiring landscape is constantly evolving and a PEO must stay ahead of the curve to best serve their clients.Understand the Value They Bring
– A PEO should not be viewed as a glorified payroll department. While it is true that their accumulated buying power can lower your benefits and insurance costs almost immediately, PEOs are also experts at the other aspects of HCM. From improved hiring techniques through more thorough training to more efficient terminations, the right PEO can create a workforce that is more efficient, has higher morale and is therefore more productive. The bottom line becomes added value and greater profitability across the board.
An employee manual
is often reviewed during a new hire’s orientation and then rarely discussed again. However, employers should not underestimate the value of maintaining this company handbook.
Keeping the employee manual updated is essential in ensuring your employees are well-informed of your policies and procedures.
If your employee manual isn’t updated to reflect necessary changes each year, it can place your business at risk for litigation.Update Your Manual to Reflect How the World has Changed
Companies should review their employee manual annually to reflect society’s changes.
Consider how the world has changed in the past year to determine if any policies are now outdated or if any new procedures need to be added.
Also, employee manuals need to keep up with technological advances.
A company who hasn’t updated their manual in the last 10 years isn’t likely to have a social media policy. If a company hasn’t updated their manual in the last five years they aren’t likely to have a policy on the use of smart phones during company time.
Changes in social norms may require changes to the employee manual as well.
For example, employee’s attire may change as new fashion trends emerge. Employers may need to narrow their definition of “business casual” or may need to include new policies about what is acceptable and what isn’t.Update Your Employee Manual to Reflect Company Changes
If your company has made any major changes to policies and procedures over the past year, it’s important to update the employee manual to reflect this.
There’s no need to wait until the previously scheduled annual review date. Instead, reflect those changes immediately.
Perhaps your company has encountered a breastfeeding mother for the first time.
You may decide that your old policy just isn’t adequate and you’ve developed a new policy to better meet everyone’s needs. The policy change should be updated in the handbook.Update Your Employee Manual When Laws Change
Local, state, and federal requirements can change at any time.
Update your manual whenever laws change to ensure that you are in compliance. If you wait until a problem arises to update your employee manual, it'll likely be too late.
Educate yourself on changes in the law and how these changes will impact your business. Keeping your manual updated to reflect these changes is essential in protecting your business from litigation.
Although there is a lot of legal jargon that needs to be included in your employee manual, it is important that you’re able to word each policy in a manner that your employees can understand.Key Areas to Focus on Updating
- Policies regarding accommodation of disabilities are a key area that should be updated at least annually. The definition of disability sometimes changes and the laws about accommodations change often as well.
- Equal employment and nondiscrimination policies also should be updated frequently if your business is required to have one. Local, state, and federal laws sometimes change regarding who is included under this policy.
- Family medical leave policies also should be updated regularly.
- Some businesses are only required to follow the federal government’s Family Medical Leave Act, however, many states have additional policies for unpaid leave. It’s important to stay informed about any changes in this area.
In addition to protecting your company from litigation, your employee manual is likely to say a lot about the culture of your business.
Keeping your employee manual up to date is essential to the well-being of your company.About the Author: Amy Morin writes about psychology, business and various news articles on the web.