What you don’t know can hurt you and your business

Shelly Williams
Shelly Williams

I was recently reminded again how rapidly information changes and how what you don’t know can hurt you — as well as affect the financial health of your business or organization. Remember the Russian proverb: There is no shame in not knowing. The shame lies in not finding out.

For human resource professionals and managers at businesses that employ individuals who supervise others or respond to inquiries about the Affordable Care Act, Americans With Disabilities Act or Family Medical Leave Act, I encourage you to weigh the cost of training against the potential cost of an unfavorable compliance determination.

I was fortunate enough to recently attend a training hosted by the local HUB International Insurance Services office covering the ACA, ADA and FMLA. I’ve also attended presentations by the Bechtel & Santo law firm in Grand Junction as well as the Mountain States Employers Council. 

An advantageous goal for every organization is to empower employees to respond appropriately. Consider, though, the employment law landscape constantly changes.

As a member of the Western Colorado Human Resource Association, Colorado Society for Human Resource Management State Council and Society for Human Resource Management, I’ve received hundreds of hours of certification credits at minimal cost.

Now more than ever, it’s critical for businesses to invest in training employees who could be named in a filing with the Department of Labor or other regulatory agencies. Training will never replace legal counsel, but could make a significant difference in the outcome of a filing. Training provides employees with knowledge that will assist them in filtering communication and could trigger something learned if a unique situation or request arises. Generally, when this occurs, it prompts that employee to seek appropriate guidance or take the correct action to address the request.

According to a recent publication from the Society for Human Resource Management, the Department of Labor announced on
June 30 the vast majority of penalties associated with wage and hour, safety and benefits compliance matters will soon increase, as will certain penalties associated with immigration matters. The department reminded employers that penalties exist to encourage greater compliance with federal law, but pointed out they’re less effective if they haven’t been raised for decades to keep pace with inflation. The new amounts will be imposed only for penalties assessed after Aug. 1, but apply to violations that occurred after Nov. 2, 2015.

The guidance provided by these human resource organizations keeps businesses informed of employment law trends, guides them in responding appropriately to inquiries and initiates action to seek guidance by establishing best practices.

Avoid being involved in the next employment law case and provide essential training to employees in your business who communicate key information regarding these regulations.