The beginning of the year is a crazy time and compliance issues like policy review and employee handbook edits are usually first to take a back seat. But, the start of a new year is actually the best time to kick your compliance-slacking in the rear and get your company set for the year ahead. So block some time on your calendar, grab your handbook and policies and the largest coffee you can get your hands on, and let’s get on with the BONANZA!!!
The latter half of 2016 was chock-full of guidance from our favorite government agencies. Here’s a rundown of releases to make sure you’re up-to-date with those who will not-so-kindly let you know if you aren’t:
- The Department of Labor:
- Issued its Final Rule requiring federal contractors to provide paid sick leave to employees who work on or in connection with certain federal contracts
- Created a new resource to help prevent misclassification issues (aka, and most frequently, misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor). This issue comes up a lot, so definitely worth checking out, particularly if you’re a small business who hasn’t hired many individuals or a new business looking at hiring its first employees.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission aka, The Busy Beavers:
- Released a new online resource center designed to help small business owners comply with the laws enforced by the EEOC, aptly dubbed the “Small Business Resource Center.” Small businesses should bookmark this page. It contains small business requirements, frequently asked questions, tips for small businesses, advice about common employment decisions, small business videos, a small business fact sheet, and even info about how to get compliance assistance from the EEOC.
- Issued a new resource on the tricky issue of workplace rights for individuals with mental health condistions under the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Released updated Enforcement Guidance on National Origin Discrimination. For those of you who are more “cliff notes” kinds of people, you can alternatively check out the EEOC’s Q&As on National Origin discrimination and its Small Business Fact Sheet on national origin discrimination
- Released updated Enforcement Guidance on Retaliation and Related Issues. For quick hits, check out the EEOC’s Q&As on Retaliation and its Small Business Fact Sheet on retaliation issues.
- Issued a one-page fact sheet “designed to help young workers better understand their rights and responsibilities under the federal employment anti-discrimination laws prohibiting religious discrimination.”
- Is in the process of issuing updated guidance on harassment. The EEOC is currently accepting comments on its proposed guidance until February 9, 2017, so finalized guidance is forthcoming.
- The Occupational Safety & Health Administration:
- Issued new policy guidelines on provisions in settlement agreements that restrict whistleblowing. In a nutshell, it states “OSHA will not approve a ‘gag’ provision that prohibits, restricts, or otherwise discourages a complainant from participating in protected activity,” defining “protected activity” to include “filing a complaint with a government agency, participating in an investigation, testifying in proceedings, or otherwise providing information to the government.” Super.
Don’t forget that as of January 22, 2017 (aka, last week Sunday) you should have started using the IRS’s new I-9 Employment Verification form.
Also, if your company employs 100+ employees or is a federal contractor or first tier subcontractor with 50+ employees and a contract/subcontract of $50,000+, don’t forget that starting March 2018 (yes, 2018, not 2017), you’ll be required to file a revised EEO-1 survey, now including pay data (which will be kept confidential). Here’s the EEOC’s press release on the change, as well as its Q&As about the change.