Employers have plenty of responsibilities on their plates when it comes to managing employees – everything from properly paying them to providing a safe and healthy work environment. With so many requirements (and potential pitfalls), employers would be wise to look for the expertise of a trusted and reputable partner to help shoulder the burden. Whether you’re just starting out with a new small business or you’re responsible for the HR department of a larger company, here are just a few things you need to ensure you’re doing right when it comes to employer responsibility.
You’re required by federal law to pay your employees at least the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour unless they receive tip income or are otherwise not subject to minimum wage (aka subminimum wage earners). Subminimum wage can be paid to vocational education students and workers under the age of 20, among others. Some states have a minimum wage that’s higher than the federal rate and the higher rate is the one you must pay. If your company has locations in multiple states, it’s important to check with each state’s labor department to make sure you remain compliant with their laws.
You also have to ensure you’re appropriately paying overtime. If an employee is classified as exempt (executive, professional, and administrative employees who are paid a salary), you are not required to pay overtime. However, for non-exempt employees (those workers who are paid on an hourly basis), for all hours worked over 40 in any week you must pay overtime at 1 ½ times their hourly rate. To further complicate matters, if an employee is in an exempt job role but is paid a salary that is less than $455 per week, you must pay that exempt employee overtime.
Reporting Employee’s Earnings
Simply writing a company check to an employee is not enough. Every paycheck you issue must include a statement showing the employee’s gross pay, all deductions and withholding, and a calculation of net pay for both that specific pay period as well as year-to-date pay. You’re also required to provide employees with a W-2, which is their yearly statement of earnings, deductions and withholding. This form must be issued no later than the last day of January each year.
Some states, such as California and Ohio, have additional requirements for paying employees. Again, it’s important to ensure you keep up with each state’s laws if your company has multiple locations.
Treating Employees Fairly It’s a federal requirement that your company treats all employees equitably. For example, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires that men and women who perform the same job must be paid at the same rate. Additionally, you are required to treat disabled employees fairly under the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, including:
- Ensuring equal opportunity when you’re recruiting and hiring qualified applicants with disabilities
- Providing appropriate job accommodation for applicants and employees with disabilities as long as the accommodation wouldn’t impose “undue hardship” (i.e., the accommodation would cause significant difficulty or expense) on your company
- Ensuring that you offer promotions and provide benefits equally.
Allowing Employees to Take Leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) grants 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for family and medical reasons with the assurance that employees’ jobs and health insurance coverage will be protected. Reasons for taking FMLA leave include having a baby; caring for a child, spouse or parent with a serious illness; or having a serious health condition that prevents the employee from performing their job duties. It’s important to keep in mind that FMLA leave is very different from a simple paid time off request. The government requires very specific documentation from the employer, the employee and the healthcare provider.
Providing a Safe Working Environment
It may seem like a no-brainer to understand that you have a responsibility to keep your employees safe at work, but that wasn’t always the case. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was only enacted in 1970. OSHA requirements apply to every employer, even those with only a single employee.
The Department of Labor created an entire website dedicated to helping you understand the hundreds of OSHA rules and regulations; they also provide a Cliff’s Notes outlining the main provisions. Keeping an eye on the rules can be a big challenge because the agency frequently adds new ones.
As you can see, employer responsibility is made up of a hefty dose of monitoring government rules and regulations for changes, which can quickly become a full-time job. Finding a partner who can do the heavy lifting to help you manage each of these requirements is important. Whether it’s offering the right HR & HCM technology to maintain compliance documents and ensure employees are paid properly or getting the expertise and support needed to keep up with changing compliance laws, no organization should manage all that’s required alone.
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