(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Poster Guard® Compliance Protection, a division of ComplyRight 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!)
Most, if not all, employers know that they need to have labor law posters. But did you know that in addition to posters, employers are required to provide handouts.
Handouts are similar to labor law postings because they are mandatory legal notices informing employees of their rights. There are two primary events that require handouts:
- New Hire handouts are required when someone is hired or rehired. Common examples would be notices regarding wages, harassment, sick leave, and health insurance.
- Employee Event handouts are required when an employee has a qualifying event take place. For instance, when an employee requests a leave of absence, if a workplace injury happens, or at the time of termination.
Mandatory employee handouts are required at the federal, state, and local level.
On a federal level, there are up to 15 mandatory handouts. Common examples include Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) general and election notices, premium assistance under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the tip credit notice for employees in that wage group. There is also a new notice that covered employers must provide to all new hires under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
At the state level, there could be up to 23 additional handouts depending on the state. For example, in California, new hires must receive a notice on the rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, among others.
Local requirements are on the rise. There are dozens of requirements in place today, and new ones being issued regularly. In Florida, there are at least two local handout requirements. In St. Petersburg, employees are required to receive a wage theft notice (as well as in Pinellas County).
What makes compliance with mandatory employee handouts challenging is that distribution options vary by handout because each underlying law is different. Some of them need to be signed or acknowledged by the employee. Here are the five most common ways that handouts may be distributed (depending on the applicable law).
- Print and physically hand out. Many times, this happens during orientation.
- Send via email.
- Include in a policy manual like an employee handbook.
- Include with paychecks.
- Post electronically on the company intranet (provided the company has an intranet used to communicate policies to all employees).
Of course, there are penalties and fines for non-compliance. And this doesn’t include the ill-will and breakdown of trust this can create with employees when they discover that they should have been notified about something (and they weren’t).
Now, I get it. You might be saying to yourself, “I already knew this.” Or “No, big deal. I’ll just download them.” And that’s where the second challenge lies. There is no one-stop government website to find and print these handouts. Organizations are on their own. This involves a lot of time for HR departments to research and stay on top of handout requirements. Time that you could use on other things like employee engagement, retention strategies, etc.
I asked Ashley Kaplan, Esquire, senior employment attorney for ComplyRight, for a realistic look at the scope of work for HR departments to maintain compliance in this area. “For companies that operate in multiple states, obtaining the proper notifications is particularly burdensome given that there are more than 400 notices nationwide, and they change frequently (on average, 50 changes nationwide per year). Many of the handouts have to be created internally because the government doesn’t provide model notices to use.”
However, there’s another answer. Instead of taking on this project internally, organizations can partner with someone who specializes in this activity. The Mandatory Employee Handout Service brought to you by the same attorneys behind Poster Guard Compliance Protection, was developed to provide companies with all mandatory employee notifications at a federal, state, city, and county level. The service also includes instructions for each handout to help organizations distribute the handouts in compliance with the law. In my opinion, this is a no brainer. As a human resources professional, I should not be spending my time right now searching websites. I should be using my time engaging workers and making sure that employees know the organization supports them.
No question that compliance is an important part of human resources. But this doesn’t mean that compliance has to be the majority of what HR does. We can find strategic partners to help manage organizational compliance.
If you want to learn more about the Poster Guard mandatory employee handout service, be sure to check out the details on their website. I think you’ll find it worth your time.12