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Employers: The top legal issues that you need to review this year

- May 20, 2013

For most employers, they never really review what they are doing with their compliance with employment laws until after someone questions them. This is a short list of things that you should take a look at before continuing through the year.

Rewrite the handbook for “at will” states – Many states have gone to an at-will status. This means essentially that the relationship between an employer and an employee can be terminated by either party at any time.

An employer can terminate someone for “good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all.” This means you can fire someone and not give them a reason… BUT… if you fire someone in a way that violates their rights (racial discrimination, gender discrimination, etc.), you are breaking the law and it can cost you.

Now, Boss, before you jump up and down, this cuts both ways. Employees can walk off the job or strike with no notice to you. You can enforce house rules regarding vacation and accrued sick pay, but there is nothing you can do. And, make sure you abide by laws regarding when a final paycheck needs to be handed out.

Update your social media policy

This is one of those things that gets way over done. The problem is that it is changing so fast, that most employers don’t know what to do. In fact, many of them are terrified to have their employee mention them on Facebook.

Relax, there is a simple policy that was written for the Dell Corporation that you can model your policy after. http://www.dell.com/Learn/us/en/uscorp1/corp-comm/social-media-policy?c=us&l=en&s=corp&delphi:gr=true

This is a simple as it gets and it allows, even encourages, your people to use social media to promote your company. And it leaves your employees responsible for bad behavior, just as they are at every other time.

Make sure you’re sure

Double check all of your records and your building to make sure that you are up to code on:

  • Wage and hour laws – These change every year, so make sure that you are still in compliance and that you aren’t in danger of being charged with breaking the law.
  • ADA and FMLA – Make sure you understand what these are and how to respond if someone asks about them. They cover a lot of situations, but they very specific situation and the employee has to do certain things to get this.

Unions and you

Most employers consider a union a dirty word, but, despite changes at the state level, federal law hasn’t changed and is unlikely to any time soon.

There are laws that protect employees that are seeking to unionize. Make sure you know those laws. If you violate them, what starts out as a local issue can literally become a Federal case?

This isn’t a complete list, but it is a place to start. Stay inside the law. If you don’t know the laws, ask. They are thousands of government employees at every level whose job it is to explain the laws to you. In fact, there are many agencies that will take a look at your situation and help you before you get into trouble.

By| Bob Peryea

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