Back to School Night for Human Resources

It’s that time again – the school year is starting. So, let’s see what you’ll need in your backpack to make the honor roll.

Take Attendance: Know how many employees you have and if you have crossed any magic thresholds. Title VII applies to 15 or more employees, OSHA applies to 10 or more employees, FMLA 50 employees and the FLSA (wage and hour) applies to everybody. Adjust your policies to account for any changes.

Throw away last year’s papers: Take a look at your document retention policies and those pesky I-9 forms. You must retain a Form I-9 for each person you hire for three years after they are hired or one year after they leave, whichever is later.

Math Class: Review actual jobs duties for exempt employees. Exempt employees must be paid $35,568/year. If your exempt classification doesn’t always match the employee’s duties, consider changing an employee to hourly. Overtime should only be available with manager approval. Unauthorized overtime still has to be paid but you can discipline an employee for going rogue on overtime. Review your bonuses and per diems policies; mistakes can make them a part of your overtime premium.

AP Biology: We all are amateur experts on infectious diseases. OSHA’s latest guidance encourages masking, vaccinations and training with visible manager support. Are your managers supportive of your COVID policies? Being in compliance with the letter and spirit of all COVID guidelines is key to ensuring workers’ compensation and general COVID immunity under 76 O.S. § 111. The good news the EEOC says COVID alone is not a disability.

Social Studies Class: Don’t forget the FMLA. Capture all hours when employees are out due to a serious health condition, including workers’ compensation injuries. If you know someone is out because of a serious health condition, put them on FMLA leave. And there are no magic words needed for an employee to ask for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA and Title VII.

Shop Class: Workers’ compensation rates have gone up. The maximum TTD rate is now $923.53/week. Review your accident report forms; they should be the employee’s responsibility to complete in their own handwriting. If you don’t do pre-employment physicals, review your workers’ comp injuries and see if physicals make sense.

English Lit.: Now is a good time to study your handbook. What were your biggest challenges last year? Adjust your policies to address them. Policies are worthless if you can’t prove employees know and understand them. Policy violations are also a good defense to an unemployment claim.

Recess Time: Relax while you look back at your biggest issues this past year. Are your managers enforcing rules? Making managers responsible for their employees’ behaviors has miracle properties; when managers understand they will be personally penalized for not enforcing policies it becomes second nature.

Now go plan your Spring Break, you’ll need it!

This article first appeared in The Journal Record on August 27, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from the publisher.


Associated People:

Madalene A.B. Witterholt

Practice Area:

Labor & Employment