An inspector from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration walks into a dealership and asks to see the required posted notices to all employees. Regrettably, some aren’t there, others are out of date. That will be a $7,000 fine (per occurrence) for non-compliance, the man from the government says.
With all the demands of running a boat dealership these days, keeping up with a seemingly endless stream of government regulations can mean such matters as labor laws get inadvertently pushed to the backburner. Specifically, employment laws and regulations can change almost any time, often without much notice. The federal government aside, cities and states might also contribute to the complex systems that govern interactions with employees. So, reviewing from time to time that employees are properly apprised of their rights covers both federal and state notices. The fines for non-compliance make it financially worth the effort.
First thoughts about labor laws usually go to minimum wages. It’s an easy one because laws increasing wages are well-publicized. Aside from a constant national discussion, states from coast to coast have mandated wage increases. California raised the minimum to $9 per hour last July 1 and it automatically goes to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016. Florida’s will go up to $8.05 on Jan. 1 and will rise annually from there. Connecticut is now $9.15, climbing to $10.10 by 2017 and many other states are following suit.
Far more difficult to keep pace with are changes that directly mandate certain entitlements for employees. Paid leave laws is one area. Regulations that require employers to provide additional forms of paid leave continued to expand in many states and cities this year. For example, paid sick leave in New York City was recently expanded to apply to all companies with five or more employees. Employers must provide up to five paid sick days per year in case of an employee’s illness or that of a close family member.
Meanwhile, back in California, not only has the minimum wage increased, but businesses are now required to provide paid time off to care for seriously ill parents, spouses and children. In addition, paid time must now be provided to bond with minor children. Moreover, employers are also now required to provide paid leave to employees caring for a seriously ill grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or parent-in-law.
How about employee privacy rights? The rapid expansion of technology might be at the bottom of new or proposed laws governing an employee’s rights to privacy. Proposals are widespread and make it more important than ever for a dealer to keep up with such governing laws, particularly coming out of their state lawmakers and regulators.
For example, this year Colorado joined 10 other states that now limit the use of credit checks in employment applications. Similar legislation has been dropped in the hopper in 35 other states. Moreover, some proposals would also limit doing a criminal background check on a prospective hire.
Social media checks are also now hot privacy issues. In fact, 12 states now prohibit employers from requiring applicants or current employees to provide their social media login names and passwords. While not a federal prohibition yet, even the National Labor Relations Board is occasionally injected itself into what employers can and cannot do in the social media realm. So what if a salesperson in the dealership tweets that the newest boat model just in sucks? The employer can’t know it because the employee’s social media activities cannot be monitored or discussed?
It’s important to note two specific agencies that can hammer a dealer. Both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and OSHA slap employers with fines and penalties for failing to post notices. This year, the EEOC more than doubled the fines for any employer failing to comply. Dealers must comply with postings mandated by the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Don’t comply and the fine has now more than doubled from $100 to $210 per daily violation.
On the OSHA side, missing the requirements can really hurt with fines up to $7,000 per occurrence for non-compliance. So ensuring your employees are apprised of their rights is well worth the minimal effort to comply.
Want an easy way out? Intuit QuickBooks offers a Poster Compliance Service for an annual cost of less than $100. It supplies all required federal and state law posters and automatically sends updates when mandatory laws change. For the money, it’s a deal worth checking out. For information, go to www.intuit.com and use the search for “compliance posters.”
Finally, be aware there are reported scam compliance poster services, for example, in Florida. It’s why I’ve suggested a known quantity like Intuit.