Payroll Network Team May 17, 2021 4:09:48 PM 11 min read

The 2021 HR Compliance Solutions Cheat Sheet

HR compliance can be hard to navigate. Applicable laws and regulations change faster than you can say "The Fair Labor Standards Act." Many companies simply don't have the time or resources to stay on top of the latest changes. This leads to penalties, lost efficiency, and high turnover rates.

From monitoring state employment law changes to trying to stay compliant with existing regulations, HR specialists often make mistakes that lead to unexpected costs.

Professional advice coupled with the right HR technologies can simplify compliance and streamline your company's operation. Let's take a look at the latest cheat sheet for 2021 HR compliance solutions.

The Costs of Non-Compliance

The costs of HR non-compliance can be higher than you expect. Regardless of the company's size, type, or niche, the government is ready to fine it. Examples of some of these penalties include:

  • Potential penalty for violating Americans with Disabilities Act — $75,000
  • Potential cost of wage & hour violation under the Fair Labor Standards Act — $10,000
  • Potential fine for each violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act — $7,000
  • Potential fine for each violation of minimum wage and overtime pay requirements — $1,000.

Compared to the fines your company may face, the costs of implementing the right HR technologies and compliance solutions are minuscule.

Besides paying significant fines, you may face business disruptions, productivity loss, reputation issues, revenue loss, and high turnover. All the above can hurt your company much more than a sizable one-time monetary penalty.

COVID-19 Safety and In-Person Work

With the COVID-19 pandemic slowly winding down, more and more companies are bringing employees back to offices and facilities.

In-person work during a public health emergency requires a serious approach. Otherwise, it's easy to face substantial penalties.

Things to consider when inviting employees to continue with in-person work include:

1. CDC and OSHA Recommendations for In-Person Work

In 2020, OSHA collected $3.5 million in Coronavirus penalties. The numbers continue growing. The most common COVID-related issues companies face include:

  • Failure to report an illness or fatality.
  • Failure to provide a medical evaluation, respirator fit test, and training on the proper use of a respirator and other personal protective equipment.

Following OSHA's guidance closely can help you avoid large fines in 2021. CDC guidelines are also highly useful for maintaining a safe environment for on-site employees. From improved ventilation and facemask-wearing rules to regular COVID-19 testing and surface disinfection, these recommendations seem to be effective.

2. Hybrid vs. Full-Time Considerations

While many companies are thinking about bringing employees back to the office, only a few of them are considering full-time work. Flexible schedules can minimize in-person contact and help you avoid OSHA penalties.

3. Vaccine Requirements and Tracking

As vaccines became widely available, many employers started wondering if it's legal to demand employees to get vaccinated. To clarify this, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released guidance on workplace vaccinations.

You can encourage or require employees to get vaccinated only if your vaccination policy complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other workplace laws

Hiring Processes

The COVID-19 pandemic changes the way many companies conduct interviews, recruit, hire, and structure the onboarding process. It's imperative to be transparent about how your company adapted to the COVID-19 hiring to build camaraderie and attract top talent.

In terms of compliance, it can be easy to lose focus on EEO requirements. So it's imperative to make sure your new recruiting and applicant tracking systems are comprehensive and fully updated.

Payroll Network's iSolved HCM platform allows you to streamline your hiring processes while staying compliant with the latest changes and requirements.

Form I-9

In March 2020, DHS announced that physical presence requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verifications under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act are deferred. It applied to employers and workplaces that work remotely.

In May 2020, new I-9 Employment Verification Form requirements went into effect. Changes were minor and included:

  • The need to reference the new revision date (October 21, 2019) to confirm you are using the latest version of the document
  • Updated instructions for fillable and unfillable .pdf files to clarify who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of the employer.
  • Clarification of which documents are acceptable for the completion of the I-9 Form.

At the same time, DHS issued a temporary flexible policy for List B identity documents that couldn't be renewed due to stay-at-home orders.

The above flexible policies are constantly being extended and updated. It's imperative to stay on top of them to ensure compliance.

FMLA and Time Off

Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide employees sick leave or expanded family and medical leave related to the COVID-19 virus. The nuances of this act must be studied carefully to avoid penalties.

Though originally in place for only 2020, the Act was extended until September 30, 2021, with several important amendments:

  • FFCRA leave is available to employees who can't work while obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine or recovering from its side effects.
  • FFCRA leave is available to employees who can't work because they are waiting for the result of a diagnostic test or awaiting a medical diagnosis.

Regulations and extensions of FFCRA are fluid, so it's imperative for your team to stay on top of the changing environment.

Payroll Network's HR Advisor program is designed to give you access to HR experts who monitor the latest COVID-related FMLA changes.

Updated Employee Manual

During the pandemic, HR departments had to change more practices and policies than they have in the previous decade. It's imperative to update your employee handbook, so it reflects the latest changes.

Many companies don't have time to deal with employee manuals, forcing workers to violate company policies. This in turn leads to non-compliance issues.

Payroll Network's HR Advisor program grants you access to HR experts who can update your employee manual even if you haven't changed it in months.

Take Advantage of the Latest HR Compliance Solutions

Navigating the HR compliance maze has always been a challenge. COVID-19 introduced a variety of nuances that put extra pressure on HR departments. By staying on top of the latest compliance solutions, it's possible to avoid penalties while improving your company's operation.

Payroll Network's HR Advisor provides a comprehensive compliance solution by combining the latest HR technology with extensive expertise. If you'd like to learn more about HR compliance and available solutions, please contact us at any convenient time.

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