Human resources professionals are often held to higher standards than other employees. They should know and understand policies and laws as they are responsible for strategically managing a company’s entire workforce. The employee’s satisfaction, well-being, and safety are ensured while the company remains compliant with laws that govern employer obligations and employee rights.
Making sure that the company is compliant is a vital responsibility of every HR employee. With laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, enforced by The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, companies are exposed to risks like financial losses and lawsuits if they are not compliant. Keeping up to date with everyday HR-related laws gives human resource workers the confidence to make frequent on-the-spot decisions or know when to contact outside council.
As non-compliance can result in severe consequences, there is a strong demand in the workplace for human resource professionals who possess a keen knowledge of legal issues and HR laws, which gives them a competitive advantage. Violation of these ever-changing and complex rules can lead to reputation damage and lawsuits for the company.
HR staff must always stay informed of legislative changes that affect how the organization handles decisions regarding employment. They help to protect the rights of employees while ensuring that companies remain compliant.
Ensure employees have 1-9 documentation
As it is not legal to hire an individual illegally residing in the United States, all employers need to verify every employee’s employment eligibility and identity. The correct documentation to use for this is a 1-9 form provided by the United Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Keep information confidential
It is vital to keep sensitive employee information confidential. A few examples are:
Social Security numbers, performance reviews, background checks, health-related information (protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA), pay levels, etc. Employers are required to safeguard employee data and notify employees of any breaches.
Additionally, HR must maintain confidentiality regarding business information or management that is not available to non management employees or outsiders, e.g., layoffs or plant closings. It is also imperative to maintain confidentiality in critical situations like performance and disciplinary actions or workplace investigations.
Know which questions to ask during an interview
It is important to know which questions an employer may or may not ask during an interview. The interviewer may not ask questions relating to gender, disabilities, age, genetic information, marital status, race, color, or religion.
Questions that may be asked are for an employee to tell them about themselves, why they are interested in the job, and what they would say their greatest strengths are.
Now that we know what the employer may and may not ask let’s look at some questions an employee may not ask during an interview.
Employees should not ask any questions starting with “why?” and whether they may work from home. Also, avoid any questions about salaries and benefits, how often reviews occur and who the company’s competition is.
The right questions would be what the company’s values are, what the interviewer’s favorite part about working at the company is, and whether there are opportunities for professional development.
Now let’s look at health benefits, anti-harassment, and non-discrimination.
- Health benefits
- Although offering health benefits allows companies to retain and employees, they must follow specific rules to be compliant. If, for example, your organization reimburses premiums for employee’s health insurance, it’s important to know that you can offer different reimbursement options for different jobs. This is called a health reimbursement arrangement or HRA. However, you may not discriminate in any way based on gender, race, or any other factors. Examples of HRA’s are ICHRA (Individual coverage HRA) or QSEHRA (qualified small employer HRA).
- Anti-harassment and non-discrimination.
- Every employer should have harassment laws in place, such as a sexual harassment and an anti-harassment policy. These policies create a safe environment for employees and protect employers against sexual and civil rights lawsuits.
Like harassment, every company should have a non-discrimination policy in place. The main reasons are that it prevents bias, clarifies employee behavior, ensures that your company is compliant, and employees feel safe knowing everyone is treated fairly.
Additionally, every employee has the right to be treated with dignity and respect, be free from harassment or being unfairly dismissed, and be paid the agreed wage on the agreed time and date.
Other important laws that govern significant aspects of labor relations are Worker’s Compensation, Employee Benefit Security, Wages and Hours, and Workplace Safety and Health.
Every company’s human resources department has a responsibility to keep up to date with the latest rules and regulations and company policies relating to HR. They must adhere to all guidelines to create a safe and fair workplace for the employee and protect the employer from unnecessary lawsuits by ensuring the company is compliant.
Coggno Marketplace has a wide range of human resources-related online corporate training courses.