HR Best Practices: Going Beyond Minimum Requirements

Every year brings changes to employment laws. For HR professionals, this means reviewing employee handbooks and making updates to remain in compliance.

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Every year brings changes to employment laws. For HR professionals, this means regularly reviewing employee handbooks and policies and making updates to remain in compliance. It may be tempting to adjust your policy to meet the bare minimum requirements, but such an approach is not always in the best interest of your company.

Understand How Planned Change and Requirements Fit Your Culture

When implementing any changes, determine how those changes fit within your company culture. Ultimately you want a policy that complies with the law and also meets the needs of both the company and employees. This is a form of planned change and can often mean going beyond what the law requires.

For example, California’s new paid sick leave law goes into effect on July 1. The law offers a few options in terms of how employees accrue sick time, which means employers have had to pick what works best for their company. Do they update their PTO policy to fit the requirements of the new law? Do they front load sick leave at the beginning of each year, or do employees accrue it per hour worked?

First, review how the law fits with your existing policy. In the case of the sick leave law, if you already have a PTO plan, you may just need to make a few adjustments to be in compliance. Next, figure out if it would be better to provide your employees with more than what the law requires. Some states, for example, have requirements for meal breaks. In California, employees must get at least 30 minutes for their meal break, but some employers have opted to make it their policy that employees get one hour. If your employees generally leave the premises for lunch, an hour would probably be a better fit for your company culture because it gives employees the chance to go somewhere and enjoy their meal break without having to rush back.

Create a Supportive Work Environment

Going beyond minimum requirements also contributes to a positive work environment. Employment laws are generally put in place to improve working conditions and to protect employees from questionable employment practices. While some may see this change and compliance as a nuisance, in reality implementing changes could actually make your workplace better for employees.

When we establish programs and policies that go beyond minimum requirements and meet the needs of our employees, we send the message that our employees are a valuable part of our organization. Consider improving upon a law’s requirements as an investment in your employees.

Provide Excellent Benefits

Any policies or programs that go beyond minimum requirements are a benefit to employees. For example, there is no federal law requiring paid holidays or premium pay on holidays, yet many employers choose to offer these things as a benefit to employees.

Things like the California paid sick leave law are a good way to improve your benefits package. The Affordable Care Act has made planned changes in how employers offer insurance. While some employers are doing just enough to be in compliance, following best practices would mean offering more. Doing so makes you more appealing to prospective employees.


This article was written by Stephanie Hammerwold and originally appeared on

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