Three Spring Cleaning Tips for Employers
When it comes to preventive maintenance, employers can surely relate to Joan Rivers who once said, “I hate housework. You make the beds, you wash the dishes-- and six months later you have to start all over again.” To make things easier, here are three tips to help employers “get their houses in order” this spring and summer:
1. Employee Handbook & Personnel Policies
With ever-changing Federal, State, and local laws, handbooks and personnel policies should be reviewed for compliance with all applicable laws—no small feat, especially for multi-State employers and/or those with remote employees. Drug testing and leaves of absence are especially tricky in light of new state laws on marijuana use and leaves of absence for sickness and pregnancy. And to keep up with changes coming from Washington, employers should revisit their social media, dress code, and grooming policies—to name a few.
2. Background Check Policies & Procedures
Employers conducting background checks—or those who use third-party providers to conduct such checks for them—also face challenges. The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act imposes strict notice and disclosure requirements on employers conducting background checks, and there are stiff penalties for violations of the law (up to $1,000), as well as exposure for class action lawsuits--in February 2021, a Federal court in California approved a settlement of almost $175,000 in a class action lawsuit alleging FCRA violations.
Some states and localities mandate additional requirements on employers’ use of background checks that go beyond the Federal requirements and impose added penalties.
Employers who outsource this work to third-party providers should remember they are not immune from liability and may be held ultimately responsible for any violations of Federal, State, and local background check laws by their provider.
3. Job Descriptions & Internal Audits
Employers should also review job descriptions to ensure they are up-to-date and accurately reflect employees’ actual duties. Job descriptions help employers to set employee expectations, effectively handle accommodation requests, and ensure that employees are paid properly.
Updated job descriptions are helpful when conducting at least two major types of internal pay audits. First, employers should review which employees have been classified as salaried exempt to confirm that the employees have been classified properly and are not, in fact, entitled to overtime pay and/or minimum wage. In addition to protecting the company, this helps to avoid potential personal liability for supervisors and managers under wage and hour law. Second, employers should internally audit employee compensation to identify possible red flags—such as pay differences among employees performing the same or similar types of work. Given the current Administration’s call for increased Union organizing, as well as an increase in wage and hour litigation, it is more important than ever for employers to self-audit, identify red flags related to employee compensation, and fix anything that needs to be fixed.
Many employers are just like Joan Rivers and let their preventative maintenance “housework” pile up. There is no time like the present to roll up sleeves, grab a broom and dustpan, and get to work to ensure legal compliance and reduce exposure to the company, managers, and supervisors.