A Time of Reflection—And Preparation

By Kathleen J. Jennings (kjj@wimlaw.com)

The end of the year can be a time of reflection. For many businesses, the time between Christmas and the New Year can be an excellent time to reflect on the progress made in meeting goals for compliance with state and federal employment laws and to prepare for the challenges of the new year. Some things to review may include the following:

  • When is the last time that your Employee Handbook was reviewed for legal compliance? Laws are constantly changing, and your handbook needs to keep up with those changes.
  • When is the last time that your Job Application form was reviewed for compliance?
  • Do you have a written harassment policy that is posted and accessible?
  • When is the last time that you conducted harassment training for your supervisors and managers? We suggest that it be done annually.
  • Have you audited pay records to determine if there are any potential issues with discrimination in pay?
  • When is the last time that you reviewed your exempt employees to determine if their actual job duties qualify them to be exempt? Remember—paying an employee a salary, by itself, does not make that employee exempt.
  • Do you have procedures in place to make sure that non-exempt employees are receiving overtime for hours worked that qualify for overtime?
  • Is the minimum wage changing in your state?
  • Have you reviewed your I-9 files to make sure that the I-9s are correctly filled out and that the proper documentation was reviewed?
  • Is your facility ready for an OSHA inspection? Take a walkaround to look for obvious violations such as accessible exits, working lights on exit signs, eye wash stations that work, visible warning signs, electrical outlets in good working order, and general housekeeping. Also—are employees wearing required PPE?
  • Do you have a safety training program? Is all training documented?
  • Does your leave policy comply with ADA and the FMLA?
  • Is there anything or anyone that employees seem to complain about on a regular basis? Is there anything you can do about it? Employees that believe that management does not listen to their concerns may be more likely to reach out to a third party, such as a union or an agency such as the EEOC or OSHA.

Happy New Year!

Kathleen Jennings, Principal is a principal in the Atlanta office of Wimberly, Lawson, Steckel, Schneider, & Stine, P.C. She defends employers in employment matters, such as sexual harassment, discrimination, Wage and Hour, OSHA, restrictive covenants, and other employment litigation and provides training and counseling to employers in employment matters. She can be contacted at kjj@wimlaw.com.

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