(Editor’s Note: Today’s post is brought to you by our friends at Poster Guard, 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!)
Remote work is more than just a passing fad. In a study by AND CO and Remote Year, more than 23 percent of the remote workers they surveyed said their organization is fully distributed. And technology tools like Slack are helping remote workers collaborate on projects.
But it raises the question, how do organizations communicate with employees when it comes to topics like workplace compliance postings. I know we need to be focused on the work, but we also need to make sure all employees know their rights as required by federal, state, and local law.
I had the opportunity to speak with Ashley Kaplan, senior employment law attorney for HRdirect about this issue. Ashley leads the expert legal team for Poster Guard® Compliance Protection. On a personal note, I’ve known Ashley for years and I’m thrilled to share her knowledge.
Even though today’s post is sponsored, please remember that Ashley’s comments shouldn’t be construed as legal advice or as pertaining to any specific factual situations. If you have detailed questions, they should be addressed with your friendly neighborhood labor and employment attorney.
Ashley, before we talk about the posting requirements for remote workers. It might be good to discuss, in general, the current posting requirements for organizations.
[Kaplan] Sure. All employers must post federal, state, and local (if applicable) postings. The mandatory federal posters include:
- Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC)
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
In addition, there could be up to 15 additional state-specific posters, depending upon what state you’re in … and up to 10 additional posters for city/county compliance. Oh, and don’t forget there are additional posters for government contractors and certain industries. The topics for these state, local, and industry-specific postings include minimum wage, fair employment, child labor, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, expanded family/medical leave rights, smoking in the workplace, electronic cigarettes, human trafficking, and more.
For HR pros who just read that list and are saying to themselves, “I have no idea if I have the right posters up!” is there a government site that will tell them everything they need?
[Kaplan] Sadly, no. The postings are issued by multiple different government agencies. Believe it or not, HR professionals have to visit each agency’s site to find out posting requirements. There are 175 different agencies responsible for issuing more than 370 posters at the federal and state level. Add to that the approximately 22,000 local jurisdictions that have the authority to issue their own postings. That’s a lot of follow-up and unfortunately, these agencies aren’t required to coordinate efforts.
Okay, so potentially HR pros have several sites to check. But do posters really change that often?
[Kaplan] Surprisingly, they do. Our Poster Guard legal team monitors posting changes and has found that there are approximately 150 state-specific post changes per year, with half of them requiring mandatory updates. I’m sure that big changes, like minimum wage increases, most businesses are aware of. But businesses need to pay attention to the small changes too because the government isn’t required to notify businesses when those changes happen. Also, be aware that mandatory posting changes are issued throughout the year, not just in January.
I honestly don’t remember labor law posters being so complex. How do current labor law posting requirements impact remote workers?
[Kaplan] By law, you’re required to provide these mandatory notices to ALL employees. That includes remote workers such as employees who work from home, offsite, on the road, at mall kiosks, in mobile service units, out in the field, and at construction checkpoints.
Does this mean that HR needs to send remote workers full-size laminated posters to hang in their spare bedrooms/home office?
[Kaplan] No, but it does mean that employees need to receive notices. Although the regulations don’t specify the format — paper or electronic — organizations are responsible for communicating the same information to your remote workers as those onsite. For employees who work on computers as part of their jobs, we recommend electronic delivery of postings, where workers can download, view and acknowledge receipt of all required postings. This satisfies your obligation to communicate their rights, as covered in the mandatory federal and state notices.
That raises another question about what information should an employee receive. If a company has remote employees who work in different states, which posting requirements should they follow? Those from the state where the company is headquartered or the state where the employee works?
[Kaplan] Unfortunately, it’s not always clear which state laws apply in this instance. Most basic employment rights — such as minimum wage, overtime and safety issues — are governed by the laws where the employee performs the work. However, depending on how your company is structured, your out-of-state employees may be covered by both states’ laws. Because it depends on so many factors, we recommend you provide both sets of state-specific postings to remote workers in this situation.
What if an organization has some employees who work from home, but they report to the office headquarters occasionally. Do they still need to send posters electronically to the remote worker?
[Kaplan] The law isn’t 100 percent definitive on how frequently a remote employee must access the physical wall posters to be covered. However, FAQs published by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) suggest that, if an employee reports to a company’s physical location at least three to four times a month, the physical postings at the business are adequate. If not, the DOL recommends electronic delivery.
Last question, there could be people thinking, “Labor law posters aren’t a big deal. If we don’t have them, we’ll just get a warning.” What’s the penalty for businesses who are not in compliance?
[Kaplan] Recently, the amount for federal posting fines increased to more than $34,000 per violation, per location. State and local fines range from $100 to $1000 each. But the real price tag comes in terms of lawsuits or investigations.
An agency could be on-site for a number of reasons, such as an immigration issue, OSHA inspection, wage and hour audit, or EEOC complaint. The first thing they will do is look for up-to-date postings, and non-compliance can negatively impact the outcome of the investigation.
The real danger is with employment litigation. A missing or outdated posting can impact damages and can even ‘toll’ or extend the statute of limitations. And as your readers know, the statute of limitations can often be an employer’s best friend in defending claims.
A HUGE thanks to Ashley for sharing her experience with us. If you want to learn more about how to make sure your posting requirements are up to date, I hope you’ll check out PosterGuard. Today’s technology makes providing remote workers with their postings easy. They also guarantee their work against government posting fines. Right now, they’re offering HR Bartender readers a discount to try their Poster Guard Compliance Protection service. Just use the code SC28549 at checkout to receive 25 percent off their compliance protection service, and the two products they have for remote workers. The code expires on December 31, 2018.
Compliance matters. It’s important to the organizational bottom-line. And when employees – regardless of whether they work remotely or in the office – know that organizations are transparent about their rights, it creates trust and engagement.
P.S. Mark your calendars! I hope you’ll join me and the Poster Guard team on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 at 2p Eastern for a TweetChat about trends and best practices of working with remote workers. Follow the HRdirect Poster Guard Twitter account (@hr_direct) for more details.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the Wynwood Wall Art District in Miami, FL16