One of the most dangerous mistakes you can make as an employer is to be unaware of or unwilling to comply with employment laws. Compliance is complicated because it requires time you may not have to do things like keep up with regulations, fees and filings. Some business owners don’t even realize what might have fallen through the cracks until it’s too late. The fines mount and the penalties keep coming; the consequences of compliance issues can run your business into the ground. Here are the three compliance mistakes employers don’t know they’re making:
1. Failure to Keep Updated Records on File
In the world of technology, electronic onboarding is the most common way to input new employee data, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to maintain copies of certain HR forms. The I-9 verifies an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States. If it’s missing from your files or not filled out properly, you could face fines. Not only does the form need to be completed and signed, it needs to be done within three days of hiring a new employee. If you miss that deadline, you’ll be facing additional fines for non-compliance, and the last thing you want is HR compliance issues.
In addition, you must physically view the documents, which prove the employee is eligible to work in the U.S. Be sure to know which documents are acceptable by reviewing the lists of satisfactory documents included with the I-9. You must also keep your employee’s I-9 forms current by reverifying certain documents when they expire. On the other hand, you also need to pay attention to how long you keep those records on file because you can face fines for not destroying I-9 forms for former employees. It's best to shred the I-9s one year after an employee’s been terminated or three years from their date of hire – whichever is later.
2. Failure to Keep up With Laws That Govern Your Business
Having the time to keep up with all the regulatory agencies and laws that govern your business seems impossible. Here are just a few of the regulatory agencies that can help eliminate compliance mistakes.
- OSHA: Workplace safety and health laws, Recordkeeping requirements
- DOL: All labor and employment laws including wage and hour
- EEOC: Anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws
- FMLA: Federal leave laws
- State laws that differ from federal laws
3. Ignoring Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations
Keeping up with OSHA rules is one of the most difficult, yet one of the most important parts of running a business. OSHA regulations apply to every worker in your business, regardless of that person’s title, status or classification. OSHA requires covered employers to maintain a workplace free of hazards that could cause serious physical injury or death. Providing a safe workplace, tools and equipment seems simple enough, but you may be surprised how many business owners don’t realize it’s a responsibility, not a choice. It’s a good idea to create a safety program to prevent accidents from occurring. When it comes to communication about best practices, be sure to talk to your employees regularly and post the required OSHA signage regarding safe workplaces in areas employees frequent.
Reporting and recordkeeping are key when it comes to OSHA compliance. No one wants an accident to happen, but if it does, don’t wait to report it. Failing to keep track of incidents (even minor ones) and implementing corrective measures afterward isn’t only bad for business, it can cost you big by way of some major OSHA violations.
There are some federal laws that don’t apply to small businesses, but often times, there is a state law that mirrors the federal law and applies to smaller businesses. If you have any questions, we’re here to help. As a client of FrankCrum, you have access to a panel of HR experts who make sure you stay in compliance at all times.