8 HR Resolutions for 2016 and How to Keep Them
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The New Year has begun, which means it’s time to put your resolutions into action. In addition to your personal goals, why not make a commitment to improve your HR practices? Here are HR resolutions to consider for 2016—and suggestions to help make them stick.
Review hiring procedures
Review your job advertisements, recruiting practices, application forms, interview questions, and screening and selection procedures to ensure they are effective and comply with all applicable laws. Avoid questions that could reveal a candidate’s protected class, such as age, disability, national origin, and religion. Additionally, keep in mind that some state and local laws prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until after they have made a conditional job offer. Make sure anyone involved in the hiring process has been properly trained.
Create/update job descriptions
In 2016, review and update your job descriptions to make sure they accurately reflect the roles and responsibilities of the positions in your company. Identify the essential functions of each job and the qualifications needed for each role. Refer to job descriptions to set expectations with new hires, assess performance, make compensation decisions, identify training needs, and evaluate potential reasonable accommodations when necessary. All job descriptions should include the reporting structure, whether the role is exempt or non-exempt, a brief summary of the job, the essential functions, and necessary qualifications and skills. Additionally, include a statement that your company reserves the right to change job duties at any time and that the job description is not designed to cover every requirement of the job.
Review job classifications
The misclassification of employees as independent contractors is a major focal point for government officials. For workers to be considered bona fide independent contractors, very specific federal and state tests must be satisfied. If you plan to use independent contractors in 2016, make sure you apply the proper tests. If you are already working with independent contractors, conduct these tests again, since your company’s relationship with the worker may have changed over time. Additionally, review all employees who are classified as exempt from overtime to ensure that they still meet federal and state requirements for exemption. These employees must meet very specific salary and duties tests in order to qualify as exempt.
Assess impact of proposed overtime changes
In July 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed changes to the overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the proposed rules, the salary threshold for the executive, administrative, and professional employee exemptions would more than double to $970 per week (or $50,440 per year) in 2016. The DOL is expected to issue their final rule sometime in 2016. If the proposed rules become final and your exempt employees fall below the new salary threshold, you can either: (1) re-classify the employees as non-exempt and pay them overtime whenever they work more than 40 hours in a workweek (and comply with applicable state overtime laws); or (2) raise their salary to meet the new requirement.
Create/update your handbook
If you haven’t already done so, create an employee handbook. A handbook can help you communicate important workplace information to employees, set proper expectations, and demonstrate compliance with federal, state, and local laws. If you already have an employee handbook, review it at least annually to ensure it is up to date with current laws, best practices, and company procedures. With many new laws taking effect in early 2016, now is the time to create or update applicable policies.
Ensure practices comply with the NLRA
In recent years, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has scrutinized employer policies and practices that infringe on employees’ rights to work together to improve wages and working conditions (Section 7 rights). For example, the NLRB views policies that explicitly or implicitly prohibit employees from discussing their pay as unlawful. In 2016, review your policies, such as those related to social media, confidentiality, and standards of conduct, to ensure they provide sufficient details and context to make it clear that they don’t infringe on employees’ Section 7 rights.
Develop/review your performance plan
It is a best practice to clearly communicate performance goals to all employees, deliver regular feedback, and provide employees with the support and resources they need to meet their objectives. If you already have a performance management program in place, assess whether it effectively rewards top performers, clearly communicates goals to all employees, and evaluates employees’ performance at least annually.
Review recordkeeping practices
Employers must maintain certain records to comply with federal, state, and local laws, some of which must be stored separate from personnel files. Consider auditing your personnel files to make sure they do not include anything that should be stored in separate confidential files.
Generally, personnel files contain records related to:
- Hiring, promotion, demotion, transfer, layoff or termination
- Status as exempt or non-exempt
- Rates of pay and salary history
- Training records
- Job descriptions
- Employee handbook acknowledgment
- Performance and discipline records
Keep the following information in separate confidential files:
- Any information reflecting an employee’s membership in a protected group, such as their voluntary self-identification of gender, ethnicity, or race, veteran’s status or as an individual with a disability.
- Any document relating to an employee’s health or medical condition, including any doctor’s notes and medical certification forms, drug test results, and leave of absence requests based on an employee’s injury or disability.
- I-9 forms and supporting identity and work authorization documents. It is a best practice to store all I-9 forms together in one file, since they must be produced promptly following an official request.
- Records concerning workplace investigations (written statements from all relevant parties, interview notes, final investigation reports, etc.) should be kept in a separate workplace investigation file.
This blog does not provide legal, financial, accounting, or tax advice. This blog provides practical information on the subject matter. The content on this blog is “as is” and carries no warranties. ADP does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, and completeness of the content on this blog.
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