Working From Home and New Policies are Fueling HR Compliance Concerns

The pandemic has caused businesses to quickly adopt new policies. As a business owner, are you keeping up with compliance and labor laws?

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How to stay up to date with regulations as your company navigates your work environment during COVID-19

An HR compliance officer is in charge of keeping pace with all general labor law issues and compliance. Their job is to ensure that there are enough employees in place to abide by compliance requirements. The role of an HR compliance officer also includes staying up to date with the latest laws and regulations and how they can affect compliance laws. At the same time, these HR compliance officers have to regularly and clearly communicate to the affected managers and employees about these laws.

That’s a lot for an HR compliance officer to handle! However, many small and even mid-sized businesses often don’t have a full-time, in-house HR professional — let alone specifically an HR compliance officer. The vast majority of businesses in the United States are small businesses. Most of these businesses are sole proprietorships or have just a handful of employees. It’s virtually impossible for businesses at these sizes to have an HR compliance officer as part of their team. However, in the face of the changing work environment due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for businesses of all sizes to make sure they’re abiding by HR compliance.

In the face of the changing work environment due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for businesses of all sizes to make sure they’re abiding by HR compliance.

The everyday life of an HR compliance officer

One of the first tasks for HR compliance officers serving a new business is creating or updating the employee handbook. This handbook is the best, clearest way to make sure everybody is on the same page. It’s a critical document for any business because it serves as a communication tool to define your company’s procedures, policies, and how you conduct business. It should be reviewed on a regular basis and seen by a legal professional before it’s distributed or officially updated. After all, this handbook tells employees what to do in any situation — including during a pandemic.

As you can imagine, COVID-19 has led to many businesses needing to update their handbook. For companies working strictly virtually, that’s a huge change in the work environment for employees. There will be changes in how meetings are held, and perhaps changes to schedules and breaks. Best practices should be outlined for creating an ergonomically-friendly work environment.

Jobs for HR compliance officers right now

Even in non-pandemic times, another major role of HR compliance officers is to educate and train workers about legal requirements. These laws are always updating and changing anyway, but even more so in recent weeks. It’s very important for an HR compliance officer to have the latest information on these rules, from the federal to the local level. Right now, HR compliance officers can still offer these trainings to virtual teams through video chats or other types of conferencing.

Hiring and recruiting in a pandemic is wildly different, especially for businesses who weren’t virtual in the past. An HR professional can help to legally navigate this process in uncharted waters.

An HR compliance officer also has a big role in hiring the best talent for your business. It’s their job to make sure candidates can perform the job, and receive the necessary education to comply with regulations. A lot of businesses are hiring right now after losing employees to issues related to COVID-19. Businesses that are physically reopening might not have employees who feel safe returning. Others might be suddenly caring for children or family members and cannot return to their “normal” job at the moment. Hiring and recruiting in a pandemic is wildly different, especially for businesses who weren’t virtual in the past. An HR professional can help to legally navigate this process in uncharted waters.

Enforcing new policies

If you haven’t updated your employee handbook yet or aren’t fully adjusted to working virtually, you’re not alone. However, if you have an HR compliance officer helping out, these changes and transitions are going to be much easier. But what if your business is too small to warrant hiring a full-time HR professional? That’s OK because this is a role that can be outsourced. It’s very important for businesses of all sizes to stay HR compliant. It’s especially crucial in times like these when regulations are changing at a whip-fast pace. It might seem like working virtually means less issues with HR compliance, but that’s not always the case.

Consider this: workers’ compensation claims were increasing including accidents and injuries at home even before the pandemic. In fact, one of the biggest workers’ comp complaints is carpal tunnel from spending too much time typing (usually in a non-ergonomic manner). Having employees work from home means you as the employer don’t have as much control over the environment as you do in a brick-and-mortar setting, but there are still things you can do to keep employees safe. This is something HR professionals can help you with, particularly if it seems like your business might permanently or semi-permanently shift to this kind of environment.

Working remotely has pros and cons, and it’s important for your business to stay legally up to date on how to handle this situation. An HR compliance officer can help.

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