HR 2015…It’s Not About Compliance
HR should not be about compliance for compliance sake. You can be 100% compliant and still make lousy business decisions. As an example I give you the Iowa dentist who after 10 years fired his hygienist for being irresistibly beautiful. Another example is the boss who fires “at-will.” Do this enough and you will scare away good employees. HR for small business should be about making informed risk vs. reward decisions.
Rarely is it a good idea to drive 100 oblivious to the posted speed limit of 65. So here are some of the HR speed traps for 2015.
Independent Contractors and the FLSA
Unauthorized overtime must be paid. Lunches less than 30 minutes should be paid. Employees clearing work emails at home must be paid. Performance bonuses should be figured into the base wage for computation of overtime. Whoa! Wait just a minute. When did this change? …1938! This will help explain why your payroll clerk and CPA having been acting more anal than usual. The Fair Labor Standards Act is a massive piece of legislation open to State, Federal and your local attorney’s interpretation. The Department of Labor in conjunction with the IRS has gone on record that the independent contractor classification will be an area of emphasis for 2015. A cascading investigation is usually triggered when your former contractor goes to the State and applies for unemployment.
ACTION PLAN: Search “1099 independent contractor” and get up to speed on how the outsider may look at your independent contractors. If these people don’t have another source of income and you tell them “how” to do their jobs, you will have a hard time defending the independent contractor status.
Paid Family/Sick Leave
Honestly, I have a tough time believing the statistics that show paid sick time is not available to the vast majority of employees in this country. That has not been my experience with small business. But it’s not important what I think, if the politicians believe it, that’s all it takes. As the economy gets better and more employees are responsible for their aging relatives and young children, the pressure at the State and Federal level to regulate time off with pay will grow. Several States have already enacted laws and California’s new paid sick time goes into effect this summer.
ACTION PLAN: Take a hard look at Paid Time Off policies. These incorporate sick leave, vacation and bereavement into a block of time that’s accrued over time and capped.
Ban the Box
The box on your application that asks for criminal background information has come under scrutiny by outsiders. Some States have already passed legislation to ban the box. Suffice to say there are fascinating philosophical arguments on both sides. This development does not eliminate criminal background checks, just changes the timing.
ACTION PLAN: Consider taking the criminal background question off your application and moving the process to the conditional offer…”You are hired pending successful completion of the I9 form, drug/alcohol screen and a job related criminal background check.”
The key is to stay informed but not obsessed with employment law developments. Look beyond the headlines and you’ll see that most, not all, but most of those employment law cases could have been avoided. The company has a “Bring Your Child to Work” event and the boss apparently “hits on” the 15-year-old daughter of one of his employees. Hey dude, write out a nice six figure check!
Hunter Lott is an HR practitioner dedicated to rights of management and better business decision-making. He has delivered more than 4,000 training and keynote presentations and has reviewed more than 1,000 handbooks as part of his practice. He can be reached at HRHunterLott@gmail.com.