Five HR Mistakes to Avoid in 2013
Prevention Today Keeps the EEOC Away
It’s no surprise that 2012 was another record breaking year for the EEOC. This year resulted in more than $365.4 million in monetary benefits for charging parties, which is the highest level of monetary relief ever obtained by the Commission. As the EEO increases enforcement, protected categories are added and court cases expand retaliation protection; these record setting EEOC trends are expected to continue.
What better time than now to assess common mistakes that pose a risk to your organization? HR must not only be aware of critical mistakes that the organization cannot afford to make, they must also ensure that all employees have a clear understanding of policy and procedure as well. Unlawful Harassment Prevention and Discrimination Prevention training should be the backbone of an organizational program.
Prevent employment law headaches in 2013 by avoiding these 5 HR mistakes:
1. Disrespecting confidentiality -HR professionals should be above par when it comes to respecting confidentiality. Remember: loose lips sink ships
- Never participate in water-cooler gossip about HR issues.
- Always remember that a trash-tweeting employee is not your business to discipline. The NLRB protects employee communications about their workplace, even negative ones.
2. Forgetting proper documentation - Although mountains of HR paperwork can be overwhelming, it’s crucial to remember to document everything in order to defend a decision.
- Always make time to document all performance evaluations and discipline procedures to minimize legal discrepancies.
- Always keep the code of conduct and employee handbooks up-to-date.
- Make sure you have developed a termination protocol with a checklist of items that need to be/have been returned.
3. Dishonoring employee relations - Employees are your biggest investment and biggest risk. Training employees on rights is proactive and preventative as it honors employee relations.
- If you see something, say something. There may be a serious problem whether or not someone has filed a formal complaint. Harassment is actionable where you knew or should have known. This applies to third parties as well.
- Ensure that all HR employees and company supervisors are trained in proper investigation procedures. Conducting routine follow-ups emphasizes that you value employee effort and concerns.
- Promote employee recognition. Employees want to be appreciated, not taken for granted.
4. Lack of compliance - Don’t forget to stay compliant.Companies that value employee rights demonstrate higher retention and productivity rates. They also have an affirmative defense in the event a lawsuit is filed against the organization.
- Comply with the proper harassment and discrimination procedures, because a mishandled complaint is more damaging than most risks. Make sure that everyone has the compliance training and expertise to respond appropriately.
- Avoid workplace retaliation by behaving professionally. Clearly communicate to all partied involved in a complaint that they aren’t to talk to others about the issue and that treating the accused/accuser differently will not be tolerated.
- Keep up with Wage and Hour law and verify supporting classification paperwork for accuracy.
- Subscribe to ongoing training to keep supervisors and hiring manager current with employment law, upcoming trends and requirements that impact your organization.
5. Disregarding general best practices - Avoid an HR mistake with serious consequences in 2013 by keep these best practices in mind:
- Train all employees in Harassment and Discrimination Prevention
- Train supervisors in Lawful Hiring, Discipline and Discharge, Protected Categories and Diversity Benefits
- Admit when you're not sure. It's better to seek outside counsel than respond incorrectly and create aditional risk.
- Keep a concise reminder file/calendar for training, follow-up, evaluations, etc.
- Organize paperwork by clearing out unnecessary materials.