(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by Poster Guard® Compliance Protection, a division of HRdirect and the leading labor law poster service that gets your business up to date with all required federal, state and local labor law postings, and then keeps it that way — for an entire year. Enjoy the article!)
Last month, we discussed the labor law posting requirements for remote workers. After I published that post, it occurred to me that there are other postings organizations might not be aware of…such as employee handouts. According to Ashley Kaplan, Esquire, senior employment attorney for HRdirect, there are two distinct types of mandatory employee notifications: labor law posters and employee handouts.
And because there are two types of mandatory employee communications, it possible that organizations might overlook employee handouts thinking they’ve got it covered with labor law posters. Kaplan says, “there is some overlap with posters, so it can be confusing to employers what’s required at a federal, state and local level.” Let’s take a high-level look at mandatory employee handouts.
4 Things Every Employer Needs to Know about Mandatory Employee Handouts
In a webinar about mandatory employee handouts, Kaplan shared four key things that employers should remember when it comes to required employee communications:
- Mandatory handouts are legal notifications, typically issued by government agencies. Common examples are Family and Medical Leave, Workers’ Compensation, and sexual harassment in the workplace. These notifications are required at a federal, state, and local level. In addition, government agencies might require notifications in multiple languages.
- Many required handouts are distributed to employees at the time of hire during orientation. However, some handouts are “event driven”, meaning that they must be distributed at the time of the event. For instance, Family and Medical Leave notifications should be provided to the employee when they are requesting leave.
- Remember current employees need to be notified as well. When new notifications are required, organizations should start giving new hires those new required notifications, BUT we can’t forget about existing employees. They need to be notified about the new or changed requirements as well. Keep in mind that some government agencies will require that notifications are acknowledged (i.e. signed) by the employee.
- And finally, these employee handouts are in addition toany labor law poster requirements for your workplace. Yes, this is what makes mandatory employee notifications so tricky. Kaplan pointed out that some laws require only postings, some require postings and handouts, and others only handouts. It’s important to know the requirements.
In Human Resources, Time is Money
I’ve got some good news and not-so-good news.
The good news is that some government agencies do offer free downloads of these employee handouts. In those situations, HR can simply download the document. That’s not the issue.
The not-so-good news is that there’s no government one stop shop that will tell you everything you’re required to do. According to Kaplan, there are “across the nation, more than 400 different federal and state notices that employers must distribute based on different triggering events. In a state like California, there can be up to 32 employee notices issued by up to five different agencies for compliance.”
Let me add that more often than not agencies don’t notify employers of changes. So not only do employers need to know where to look for the legal requirements, they have to regularly go back and double check to ensure they are in compliance.
One more thing. There are instances where government agencies do not offer templates or free downloads. Employers are responsible for creating the handout on their own. And I don’t have to tell you what that means. HR is responsible for everything that comes with designing the new form – researching the legal guidelines, creating the document, getting legal approvals, communicating the change, etc. Oh, and I know I don’t have to tell you (but I’ll say it anyway) that, if an organization is caught being out of compliance, they are subject to fines, penalties, and legal exposure.
But let me end this section with some more good news. You don’t have do this alone. Our friends at Poster Guard have recently introduced a new Mandatory Employee Handout service. It was developed by their legal team to help businesses comply with all of these handout requirements.
With the service, employers are provided with electronic access to current federal and state handouts, so they can print or email them to employees. Poster Guard takes care of monitoring, so organizations will always have the most up-to-date information to share with employees. AND they’ve also built some templates that you can use to create your own.
Right now, HRdirect is offering HR Bartender readers a discount to try their Mandatory Employee Handout service. Just use the code SC28549 at checkout to receive 25 percent off the Poster Guard Compliance Protection service. This applies to all three tiers of service offered and the two products they have for remote workers. But don’t delay! The code expires on December 31, 2018.
Notifying Employees is the Right Thing to Do
I understand that compliance isn’t the sexiest part of human resources. But it’s essential to the business and not just from the standpoint of avoiding fines and penalties.
Telling employees their legal rights is simply the right thing to do. The last thing organizations want is to develop a reputation for being an employer that doesn’t operate in good faith. We don’t do that with our customers and we don’t want to do it with employees. It will impact the company’s ability to hire, engage, and retain the best talent, which ultimately impacts the bottom-line.13