NEW ORLEANS — Vic Marchetti, senior vice president of Haylor, Freyer & Coon, a firm that provides insurance and risk management solutions based in Syracuse, N.Y., says there are trends and issues that can potentially cost employers a lot of money when it comes to labor.
“They’re expensive issues, and they’re problems that we all face day-to-day, like employee turnover, compliance violations, HIPAA violations, workers’ compensation, OSHA penalties, EEOC violations, legal costs, attorney fees, employee morale,” he points out. “What happens in an organization when there is a claim and it starts affecting your customers, it just hurts general morale in the organization as a whole.”
Marchetti says there’s a lot happening on the labor front, and the risk of not caring about these issues is great.
During an educational session at the Clean Show in June titled Labor Law Compliance: Current Issues and Trends, Marchetti and Haylor, Freyer & Coon colleagues Tom Flynn, vice president and director of group benefits, and Mike Halter, vice president and director of loss control, covered a few of these issues, along with presenting some solutions for mitigating them.
Flynn opened by talking about human resources (HR) compliance issues and solutions, the importance of creating policies with training and documentation that keep a business in compliance with federal, state and local labor law.
He says it starts with measuring a company’s policies when it comes to areas such as health and safety, discrimination, and healthcare.
“First of all, you have to know what you have as far as issues inside your company,” he says. “If you think about it, a lot of HR issues are managed by people who are either double-heading or someone who’s a mid-level manager. They always need some type of resource They may think that they’re actually doing everything fine.
“You can’t think you’re fine. You have to know it.”
Flynn say companies have to have a process, and it starts with auditing, conducting a gap analysis that shows where a company is lacking in terms of policies and training. He shares that, in many cases, a broker or outsourced HR consultant or even a payroll provider might have tools available, adding that it’s important to make sure that the partners a company does have can offer support in those areas.
“There are still fines for being non-compliant, and those are things you have to understand,” he says. “It’s going to be based on the size of your company, the number of employees you have, the states that you’re in, etc. Those are types of things that anyone can use some type of resources to support their decision-making on.”
As an example, he points out that a number of states have mandatory sexual harassment training, and some companies have been slow to react.
“In some of those states, that applies to every company in the state,” he says. “It doesn’t matter how many employees you have, if you have sales people that come and work in the office for a couple of days a year for a conference or just a training session, they have to be trained.”
In all these instances, Flynn says companies need to have a policy in place so they know what has to be done, know the timelines around when it has to be delivered, and have it all documented.
Tools and resources to help with a company’s HR compliance come in many forms.
“You have some people who like doing it themselves,” says Flynn. “They want to have some tools that they can go out and self-serve and bring down those checklists, maybe some training modules. Maybe it’s something to do with the developing a handbook. Those are all available.
“Or you can have someone totally outsourced do it all for you, or, again, you can have someone that uses the tools that are available in sort of self-serve environment.”
He shares that businesses have more than one option for training staff.
“Instead of spending a lot of money to have one person come in one day year to do sexual harassment training for your entire staff, maybe have a training solution that goes beyond that. Maybe an online solution might be better. That way people can do it on their own pace, and that’s documented.”
Flynn points out that labor law is constantly changing and that “even a seasoned HR professional needs to have a heads up or a reminder.” There are services and partners that will send changes to a business proactively.
“Really, what the whole goal here is, you have to be consistent,” shares Flynn. “Consistency is sort of a rule, and ignorance is not an excuse. Those are two things you hear from attorneys.”
He reiterates that a consistent compliance policy is always going to start with the audits, knowing where the gaps are, and then doing the work to fill those gaps and creating policies.
“Having some type of policy in place for all these areas and, better yet, knowing where you should have policies in place, are sort of just the table stakes for being compliant,” he adds.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion on working with OSHA and the insurance impact of labor law compliance.