What is HR Compliance?

Running a business comes with no shortage of perks: the freedom to be your own boss, invest in an idea, steer its trajectory, and, with a little luck, create wealth. It has its challenges, too. Competition may be fierce. Demand for what you offer may be low. Costs may not be sustainable. But even if everything else is going your way, there’s one challenge that’s ever-present. We’re talking, of course, about HR compliance.

Defining HR Compliance

HR compliance is the work of ensuring that your employment practices conform to federal, state, and local laws. This work requires learning which laws apply to your organization and understanding what they require you to do. That’s easier said than done.

HR compliance is truly an art. It requires knowledge, skill, and cooperation. You have to be able to decipher legalese, know where to go to ask the right questions, and create policies and procedures that minimize business risk. You have to ensure that everyone from the executive team to newly minted managers know what they can and cannot do. You have to conduct investigations and enforce your rules consistently. And all this is just the bare minimum—necessary, but not enough to create a truly successful culture.

The work of compliance is never entirely done. Not only do new legal requirements appear on the regular, but, as you’ll read below, compliance obligations are often unclear. While some compliance obligations are definitive, others are unresolved, and a good number of laws require you to make a judgment call. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Why HR Compliance Can’t Always Be Assured

Some employment laws take the form of “Do this” or “Don’t do that.” The requirements may be simple, like minimum wage, or complex, like FMLA, but either way there’s usually no real question about what you need to do or not do. Compliance with these laws is pretty straightforward. Don’t pay less than the minimum wage. Provide leave to eligible employees for the reasons that qualify, continue their health benefits (if applicable), and return them to their position when their leave ends. As long as you’re clear on the details, you’re not likely to lose sleep wondering if your policies and procedures are compliant.

Sometimes, however, those details are unsettled. Lawmakers don’t always specify everything a law requires before it passes or takes effect. Even when laws seem clear, trying to put them into practice often raises a lot of questions. And the legislature isn’t the only source of law: regulatory agencies demand their say, and courts get involved, too. To complicate matters, these branches of government don’t always agree with each other, and what they say today may not be what they say tomorrow. Keeping up with the latest official guidance takes time and persistence. It can feel like a marathon, when what you want is a quick sprint to the answer. You have other demands on your time, after all. 

Finally, a lot of employment laws have standards you have to follow, but they don’t tell you how. Neither the IRS nor the DOL, for example, tells you whether your workers are employees or independent contractors—unless there’s an audit or complaint. Instead, these agencies publish tests with general criteria that you use to make case-by-case determinations.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) works this way, too. Under the ADA, an employer is required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, with a few exceptions. One of the exceptions is that the accommodation doesn’t create an undue hardship on the employer’s business. The basic definition of an undue hardship is an action that creates a significant difficulty or expense. Although the law provides factors to consider in making this determination, the onus is on you to decide whether an expense or difficulty from an accommodation is significant. And, ultimately, your conclusion could be challenged in court.

Why HR Compliance Looks Like This

If HR compliance seems convoluted, that’s because it is. Our current legal landscape is the result of three competing philosophies about how the workplace should be governed, who should govern it, and whose rights in the workplace should be prioritized in the law.

Owner Control
According to the first view, business owners should have control over their workplaces and the work that takes place for the simple reason that they own the business. It’s their property, and as owners they should have the legal right to govern it. Employees have no right to control aspects of the workplace because the workplace isn’t theirs. They don’t own it. It’s not their property. If their desires don’t align with the owners, or if they don’t like the terms and conditions of their employment, they can and should go elsewhere.

Of course, an owner might employ managers or an executive team to make decisions about who to hire and fire, what to pay, how to assign work, and other such matters, but in principle the owner is still in charge. Advocates of this view include the economist Milton Friedman who, in 1970, famously wrote that corporate executives have a direct responsibility to conduct business according to the desires of the owners. The will of the owners reigns supreme. 

Worker Control
According to the second view, workers should have a say in the decisions that get made simply because those decisions affect them and their livelihoods. In this line of thinking, the governance of the workplace should adhere to the principles of democracy, although proponents for this view differ on how democracy in the workplace should be practiced.

In the 1930s, Senator Robert F. Wagner introduced the National Labor Relations Act to guarantee the “freedom of action of the worker” and ensure that workers were “free in the economic as well as the political field.” And, today, talk of democratizing the workplace usually refers to bolstering unions. But there are other proposals to note. Some champions of workplace democracy, like Senator Elizabeth Warren, have pushed for employee representation on corporate boards. Others favor cooperative models in which the division between employers and employees doesn’t exist.   

Full-fledged workplace democracy is still a fringe view, though. The very definition of an employee remains a worker who does not have the right to control what the work is, how it’s done, or how it’s compensated. However much authority employees are given to make decisions, however much influence they have over their superiors, they are not legally in charge. 

Societal Control
Advocates of the third view argue that the government has an interest in exercising some measure of control over the work and the workplace. In the employer-employee relationship, employers typically have significantly more power than employees—especially an employee acting as an individual. Frances Perkins, who served as Secretary of Labor and was a key architect of the New Deal, believed that government “should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life.” She saw a role for legislatures in countering long hours, low wages, and other conditions unfavorable to employees. 

How These Philosophies Have Played Out

In the United States, HR compliance is the result of these three competing and arguably incompatible philosophies. Government action with respect to employment has tried to empower workers and afford them certain rights, protections, and freedoms in the workplace, all while preserving the employer’s control over their business.

We can see this balancing act in the differences among state laws. Some states prioritize the right of owners to control their workforces and are loath to restrict that right through legislation. Other states act out of what they see as a duty to secure the rights of workers. Imposing obligations on employers doesn’t bother them.

We also see this balancing act in the way that employment laws tend to set parameters rather than dictate exactly what employers must do. You can pay employees whatever you want, so long as you pay at least the minimum, offer an overtime premium when applicable, and meet equal pay requirements. You can theoretically terminate employment for any reason or no reason at all (though we don’t recommend it); but you can’t fire someone for an illegal reason. Even laws that require a new practice, such as paid leave, allow flexibility provided the minimum conditions are met.

Takeaways

First, when you’re assessing your compliance obligations, understand that not all compliance obligations are clearly delineated or settled law. Unsettling as that may be, it’s how our system has been set up. In those cases, you’ll have to weigh your options and the risks involved, and then make a decision. Sometimes you may need legal advice in addition to HR guidance. Remember, though, that despite all the many employment laws on the books and in the imaginations of legislators, the system is designed to keep employers in charge of their work and workplaces. You can’t eliminate all risk, but by understanding the nuances and open questions, you can significantly minimize it.

Second, document your actions and decisions. It only takes an employee filing a complaint for enforcement agencies to get involved, but you are better protected if you can quickly and clearly explain to them the reason for your actions.

Third, evaluate whether your policies, procedures, and practices are satisfactory to employees. No employment law gets written in a vacuum, and no law is truly inevitable. The Fair Labor Standards Act came to be because workers and the general public felt that labor standards were unfair. Today we wouldn’t have people pushing for predictive scheduling laws if they felt that work schedules were already sufficiently predictable. Harassment prevention training wouldn’t be mandatory (where it is) if sexual harassment weren’t widespread.

Fourth, lead by example. Make good employee relations a key part of your brand and competitive advantage. Employees have higher expectations today than they used to. Meet those expectations and motivate other employers to do the same, and you may find that the compliance landscape of the future is less winding and boggy than it could have been.

Finally, we have an online portal (HR Support Center) that is available to our clients where you can learn about your compliance obligations. Our laws section breaks down federal and state employment laws in a way that people can understand, and the News Desk keeps you up to speed on the latest compliance obligations and contingencies you should consider. HR compliance is an art, and the first step to mastering it is learning what it entails and how it works.

Take a 30 day trial of our HR Support Center for FREE! Simply email linda@azhrhub.com today.

#compliance #HRconsulting #HRPartner #humanresources

Onboarding and Tracking

When an employee starts with a new company, their onboarding experience really sets the tone for how their employment will be. In many cases, employees start the onboarding process with little to no support from their future employers. It is important for employers to stay active in the onboarding process to remind the employee of how important they are, and how important their future is with their new employer is.

Following an employees onboarding process can be stressful, follow along for some tips on how to create a successful onboarding and tracking process:

  1. Use Available Software

Using one human resource software system can help an HR staff keep paperwork and all personnel file in one place. Systems like this can also track the onboarding process so its easy for future employers to see how far along their new hires are coming. 

2. Get Everyone Involved

A good onboarding experience will include more than just the HR department. New employees should be onboarding with their respective department, too. This will grow relations and help create a good company culture for after the hire date.

3. Reach Out to the Employee 

Reaching out to new employees during the onboarding process makes the employee feel welcome. If managers reach out to the new hire, they create a good relationship moving forward. 

Creating a solid onboarding and tracking experience for new employees is so important for an organization. AZ HR Hub can help your organization, not only in the onboarding and tracking department but in every HR-related department – we’re your #HRPartner, so you can focus on business! 

Employee Health and Wellness

The average person will spend about 90,000 hours during their lifetime at work. That is a lot of time stuck behind a desk, standing on your feet, or attending corporate meetings. It is so important for employees and employers to promote the importance of mental health and wellness in the workplace. The work environment can be stressful for many, so having support from everyone is key. 

If you want your employees to have a good work-life balance, you have to take the steps to support them at work. Here are some top health and wellness activities, to help give your employees the health and wellness support they need.

  1. Raise Awareness

Making sure your employees are aware of their wellness options is important. The only way they will truly care for themselves, is if they know the options that they have!

2. Encourage Employee Connections

People who are happy at work, tend to be great attributes to the organization. If employees create connections with coworkers, they are more likely to be happy at work, and a happy environment will promote productivity and workplace wellness. 

3. Encourage Breaks 

 Many times, employees are afraid to take breaks throughout the day. Breaks allow employees to decompress for a little bit, and taking a break increase productivity and the work environment. Breaks are great for employees so they can take some time off from their work, and focus on themselves. 

4. Encourage Preparedness

If employees are prepared for work everyday, they will have less stress and be able to focus on their tasks more. When employees know what they are doing at work each day, their mental health will be in a much better state.

 5. Boost Morale 

Celebrate the little things! If employees feel appreciated and welcome in their work environment, they will take their health and wellness much more seriously. 

IRS Extends Deadline for Employers to Furnish Forms 1095-C and 1095-B

On November 29, 2018, the IRS released Notice 2018-94 to extend the due date for employers to furnish 2018 Form 1095-C or 1095-B under the Affordable Care Act’s employer reporting requirement. Employers will have an extra month to prepare and distribute the 2018 form to individuals. The due dates for filing forms with the IRS are not extended.

Background

Applicable large employers (ALEs), who generally are entities that employed 50 or more full-time and full-time-equivalent employees in 2017, are required to report information about the health coverage they offered or did not offer to certain employees in 2018. To meet this reporting requirement, the ALE will furnish Form 1095-C to the employee or former employee and file copies, along with transmittal Form 1094-C, with the IRS.

Employers, regardless of size, that sponsored a self-funded (self-insured) health plan providing minimum essential coverage in 2018 are required to report coverage information about enrollees. To meet this reporting requirement, the employer will furnish Form 1095-B to the primary enrollee and file copies, along with transmittal Form 1094-B, with the IRS. Self-funded employers who also are ALEs may use Forms 1095-C and 1094-C in lieu of Forms 1095-B and 1094-B.

Extended Due Dates

Specifically, Notice 2018-94 extends the following due dates:

  • The deadline for furnishing 2018 Form 1095-C, or Form 1095-B, if applicable, to employees and individuals is March 4, 2019 (extended from January 31, 2019).
  • The deadline for filing copies of the 2018 Forms 1095-C, along with transmittal Form 1094-C (or copies of Forms 1095-B with transmittal Form 1094-B), if applicable, remains unchanged:
    • If filing by paper, February 28, 2019.
    • If filing electronically, April 1, 2019.

The extended due date applies automatically so employers do not need to make individual requests for the extension.

More Information

Notice 2018-94 also extends transitional good-faith relief from certain penalties to the 2018 employer reporting requirements.

Lastly, the IRS encourages employers, insurers, and other reporting entities to furnish forms to individuals and file reports with the IRS as soon as they are ready.

2018 Compensation and Benefits Workshop

We are excited to host a half day workshop on October 3rd at Because Space for Life.

When employees feel satisfied and valued in their roles, they’ll be more engaged and motivated to work harder and deliver top results.

At the 2018 Comp & Benefits Workshop, HR thought leaders and experts will touch on aspects of Total Rewards – from compensation, to work-life effectiveness and benefits, including pay equity and paid time off. You’ll walk away with practical tips and new strategies to ultimately create breakthrough performance throughout your company.

Agenda

 7:30 – 8:15am Continental Breakfast, Registration, Network, Meet Vendors
 8:15 – 8:30am Welcome message
 8:30 – 10:00am How to Become a Compensation Nerd

 

Does compensation mystify you?  Well, you’re not alone.  Join your fellow generalists on a journey to understand compensation basics and some strategic approaches to forming your company’s pay practices. In this workshop you will learn:

·       The eight questions to answer before you start solving your compensation issues.

·       How to think about and use survey data

·       How to structure your base pay into grades and ranges

10:00 – 10:15am Break with Vendors
10:15 – 11:45am Winning at Total Rewards: How to HIGH FIVE your Total Rewards program!

 

A 90-minute tour of the FIVE Total Rewards components that will make your TR program successful.  In this workshop you will learn:

·       Review the foundation of Total Rewards and the FIVE key components that make up a great TR program

·       For each of the FIVE key components, a quick look at best practices and how to set up that part of your TR plan if you don’t already have it

·       Resources to help assist in the setup and maintenance of the FIVE key components

11:45 – 12:00pm Wrap Up, Raffle Prizes


Why Attend?

  • Evaluate your organization’s existing total rewards strategy using current trend information.
  • Discover new strategies to build a “Best Place to Work” culture that attracts and retains the best and brightest talent.
  • Determine how to influence your organization’s success by learning real-world and practical solutions to your top business and HR challenges.
  • Understand why engaging employees is the path to profitability and business growth and how to use employee engagement as the ultimate competitive advantage.
  • Develop an impactful total rewards strategy with help from peer insights and analytics and learn how to communicate your offerings, so employees understand the value.
  • Network with more than 150 HR professionals who are responsible for compensation and benefits plans and strategies.

 Meet Our Speakers

Gail Paul is the CEO of StrategiComp.  She has over 25 years of experience as both consultant and practitioner in the areas of compensation, executive compensation and benefits.

StrategiComp, formed in 2016, has many diverse publicly and privately funded clients from multiple industries.

Gail’s background includes serving as the top Total Rewards executive for publicly traded organizations Universal Technical Institute and Del Webb Corporation (Pulte Homes), where she was responsible for managing executive compensation programs, pay and incentive structures, equity incentive plans, and creating and communicating the compensation philosophy and strategies.

Gail has also worked as a Senior Consultant at Mercer H.R. Consulting / Mercer Health & Benefits, providing comprehensive HR and benefits consultation to large corporate and government clients in Arizona and Nevada. She was the founder and principle of Matrix Compensation & Benefits Consulting, where she crafted powerful compensation and total rewards strategies for a wide variety of clients, public, private, Fortune 500 and small firms.

Gail is a Certified Executive Compensation Professional through WorldatWork and is an active member.  In addition, Gail is a Predictive Index Certified Partner through MindWire Group where she serves as Vice President/Partner.

 

Sheila Krueger is a Total Rewards Expert with Televerde. Sheila M Krueger is what is referred to as a “seasoned” professional. Not only is she tender and juicy, she’s got over 20 years of practical and strategic experience in the Total Rewards arena. Starting with a stint selecting and installing an HRIS system (when she didn’t even know what HRIS stood for), to overseeing Total Rewards programs for companies of 200, 750, and 3500 employees, Sheila has heard all the stories and survived to tell the tales.

 

Meet Our Vendors

Edward Jones – Carina Burtell

HRCI Credits Pending

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Your HR Partner

Contact Us

Social