Does our current hiring practice follow the criminal history guidance issued by the EEOC?

Enforcement guidance issued in May of 2012 focused on the use of criminal history information with respect to “disparate impact” claims. Based on conviction rates across the nation, the EEOC presumes that any employer’s use of criminal history information during the application process disproportionately excludes racial minority applicants.  The EEOC is requiring that employers prove business necessity of their screening procedures by validating, through statistics, the link between the disqualifying criminal conduct and subsequent work performance.  According to data from Jury Verdict Research, smaller organizations face average costs over $100,000 for a single employment practice lawsuit. Our suggestion… have an audit conducted to ensure all of your hiring practices are compliant.

Where and for how long do we keep employee related documents?

Just a few examples…an I-9 must be kept for a minimum of three years plus one year after termination, in a separate, locked location than the personnel file. Since the new GINA regulations came out earlier this year, most employers must keep performance evaluations and any other document that substantiates an employer’s decision regarding wages for a minimum of two years after termination. Payroll records, including time cards, should be kept for a minimum of 7 years. Our suggestion… put a personnel file and purge policy in place.

Speaking of documents, we heard that fines for incomplete or incorrect data on an I-9 document range from $100-to $1000 per question. Is this true?

Yes, that’s right! One incomplete or missing I-9 form could cost your organization thousands of dollars. Just one missing question on each form, considering all of the forms you have for a minimum of three years, could also cost you thousands of dollars. Our suggestion… have a full I-9 audit & training conducted…it will cost you much less than the fines.

OSHA requires training for essentially every business on Blood borne Pathogens, HAZCOM, MSDS, and Emergency Response. We are also expected to post our OSHA log from February 1st to April 30th each year. What fines can we expect for not complying with these requirements?

Fines for OSHA violations vary based on how the agency defines your violation. They include…

Willful-Requires intentional disregard for the act or plain indifference to employee safety. Penalty ranges from $5000- $70,000. If an act results in death, fines run from $250-$750k, plus six months in jail.

Serious– This violation requires “substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a condition which exists, or from one or more practices or processes which have been in use…” OSHA may propose a penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation.

Other-Than-Serious Requires direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees. OSHA may impose a penalty of up to $7,000 for each violation.

We were told posting and issuing the PA Right to Know Worker’s Compensation information and our Panel Provider list to all employees upon hiring was mandatory… if this is so, why must we do this?

Organizations in PA must hang their Panel Provider List & Worker’s Compensation Carrier information next to the other mandatory federal and state posters. In addition, insurance carriers insist employers issue it to every employee and ensure they sign off acknowledging receipt of the law in order to manage claims more effectively and to keep insurance claims and the organization’s insurance premiums lower. The average WC claim in PA as of 2010 was $7,000.  Our suggestion… comply and manage those claims.

Why do we need a Company Handbook?

PA business owners are paying roughly $432 per employee in unemployment taxes (as of 2010) to a bankrupt and worsening state unemployment system. Absenteeism costs business owners approximately $700 per employee annually (depending on average wage, cost is roughly 35% of payroll costs.) Between the two expenses, business owners are spending over $1000 per employee in costs they could be controlling by setting expectations in a handbook. You also want a handbook which articulates you are an Equal Opportunity Employer who complies with all federal, state and local employment laws, to minimize your risk if you should find yourself involved in a lawsuit.  You can minimize these all of these risks by creating a Company Handbook and consistently applying the policies included in it.

These questions are really just the tip of the iceberg. We have not even touched upon legal and effective recruiting & hiring practices, FLSA/ pay policies, attendance issues, turnover costs, termination guidelines and many other compliance related matters.

Let Alternative HR assist you by conducting an HR Audit of your practices and procedures before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, OSHA, and/ or Immigration & Customs Enforcement come knocking on your door. Call us to schedule an HR audit today! 717-855-5589