HR Blog

Less Obvious But Still Important HR Stuff to Consider in the New Year

01/01/2017 | Dee Yingst

With the coming of the New Year come the New Year's Lists… know the ones – those resolutions put together with the hope that the calendar change will bring new life to old goals.

We all know that HR is no stranger to lists.  So in the great list-making tradition I'd like to share a list of my own. Instead of the big obvious things, I've decided to compile a handful of less-obvious but still important things.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to come up with a catchy name for it so I'll just call it:

Less Obvious but Still Important HR Stuff to Consider in the New Year

Are your Federal Labor Law posters up to date?A required posting change to the minimum wage and polygraph sections was issued in July 2016 (there were formatting changes to OSHA and FMLA too but they were optional to repost).  If the date on those sections of your posters is anything older than July 2016 then you'll need to get new ones. You can either print them off individually from the DOL's website or for less than $20 you can order the combo poster from the PA Chamber.

How long has it been since you reviewed your anti-harassment/anti-discrimination policy with your employees and received a signed acknowledgement from each of them? If the policy only gives employees their own supervisor as the place to report complaints, it's time to revisit this policy. You also need to be sure you document that you've trained all employees.

When's the last time you reviewed your handbook language using the guidance issued from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)? These folks don't just govern union employers – their rules affect everybody. The NLRB is particularly interested in policies like Social Media, Electronic Resources, and…… conduct policies that require employees to always be polite and respectful to their supervisor (no, I'm not kidding…we talked about this in April: HR Blog - Respect

While we're talking about handbooks, have you updated your safety policy with regard to OSHA's guidance about work rules that they believe deter employees from reporting accidents?  Things like giving incentives for XX number of days without an accident or mandatory drug testing for all accidents? We talked about this in our September blog post.

Did you distribute the required notices to your employees about their benefits? Do you know what the notices are and when you're supposed to distribute them?  Any of these sound familiar:   Women's Health & Cancer Rights Act, Notice of Special Enrollment Rights, CHIPRA, HIPAA Privacy, COBRA, Wellness Program Disclosure, Medicare Creditable Coverage, Newborn's and Mothers' Health Protection Act? These may not all apply to you – but you should know which ones do and what you need to do to be compliant.

When is the last time your plan documents were updated and distributed?I'm not talking about those groovy 2-sided 8-page SBC's that the carrier gives you; I'm talking about the granddaddy of all ERISA-required benefits documents: the Summary Plan Description (SPD). This is frequently in the form of a "wrap" document that gets combined with the insurance certificates provided by the carriers to create the full SPD. The SPD needs to be in participants' hands within 90 days of being covered.  If you've already got one (go you!), please be sure you don't make the mistake of thinking that just posting it on your intranet site is enough – the DOL doesn't see it that way. Among other things, there are specific rules (of course there are!) around how a participant receives their SPD when the employer opts to not use paper as the primary delivery method.  Make sure you acquaint yourself with distribution methods and frequency, update frequency, and other ERISA rules around the treatment of your SPD.

So there you have it – a New Year's List that doesn't include swearing off cheesecake, going to the gym 5 days a week, or calling your mother every day.

Happy New Year!