2017 HR Functions: What You Should Be Doing Now

Ideally, business owners and HR personnel have already begun the task of preparing their human resource functions for 2017. If you  are one of those who have not begun planning for 2017's HR functions, or if you simply want to make sure you have covered the essentials, it will be beneficial to continue reading this article. There are many preparations that revolve around HR compliance that must be completed to ensure your business is starting off 2017 with a clean slate.  
Review Policies and Procedures  - With the many changes to state and federal employment laws throughout 2016, now is the perfect time to review your policies and procedures. Ensure that all policies and procedures comply with changes to regulations and court decisions that changed throughout the year. Outdated policies that may no longer reflect the current law can cause more harm than good. Also, ensure that policies are documented in your company handbook, and that each employee has signed an acknowledgment of receipt for the handbook.
Complete an I-9, W-4, and Emergency Contact Audit  - The beginning (or end of the year) is an ideal time to review your I-9 folder. Confirm that all I-9s are separated from personnel files and kept in one file folder for easy access. Check that you do not have any missing or incomplete I-9s. Have employees review their W4's and emergency contacts if they had changes in their household during the year, or have made any other changes that would affect payroll withholdings.

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There has been an injunction issued that will temporarily block the Department of Labor from implementing the revised white collar salary and overtime regulations on a nationwide basis. The injunction was issued by a federal court judge in Texas. The injunction was issued on the basis that the 21 states and several business organizations that filed cases would be irreparably harmed if the rule was not enjoined.

The regulations originally scheduled to take effect on December 1 st , 2016 would have raised the salary threshold for determining exempt status from $455 per week to $913 per week. While this injunction prevents the new regulations from taking effect on December 1 st , it does not mean that this new rule will never be implemented. Employer groups are hopeful that the Trump administration will drastically revise the new set of regulations. The benefit of the proposed change in regulations has made many companies realize that there is a two-step process for determining exempt status. The two-step process is comprised of a salary test and a duties test. The salary test guideline changes have been temporarily enjoined but that does not mean that employer's should stop applying the duties test.

Employers should still be accessing the exempt positions and determining if they are in fact positions that should be exempt or if the employees should be eligible for overtime.

Giving Veterans' Preference in Hiring Decisions

Governor Tom Wolf has signed legislation the will allow private employers to adopt a veterans' preference employment policy. This legislation will go into effect on January 1st, 2017. The Veterans' preference employment policy is a voluntary policy that can be adopted by a private employer for hiring, promoting or retaining a veteran, spouse of a disabled veteran, or a surviving spouse over another qualified applicant or employee. 

To be eligible to use this preference, the veteran or the spouse must submit the DD 214 of the veteran to the employer. The employer must have the policy in writing and include a statement in any job posting that they make that they apply a veterans' preference employment policy. A copy of the policy should be provided to the applicant at the time of hiring and provided to all employees on an annual basis. The policy must be applied uniformly to employment decisions regarding the hiring of new applicants, the promotion of current employees, and the retention of employees during a reduction in the workforce. 

Workplace Holiday Party Reminders

Up to 36 percent of employers report employee misconduct during workplace holiday parties including sexual harassment, improper language and arguments, and even sexual harassment. Because this is still a work related event, employers may be liable for their employees' actions.

We have put together a list of things your team can do to avoid legal trouble resulting from your company holiday party.

Monitor Alcohol Intake
Make sure the booze is not flowing non-stop. Open bars are not a good idea at holiday parties. Provide food so employees are not consuming alcohol on empty stomachs. Drink tickets or closing the bar early are two ways companies monitor alcohol intake. Inviting spouses or other family members may help employees control their intake. Consider holding a lunch party for the office, forgoing the alcohol.

Provide Transportation Home
Cab rides, designated drivers or holding the party in a hotel where employees can spend the night can all avoid DUI's or worse, an accident caused by a DUI. 

Happy Holidays from your friends at Alternative HR!
Alternative HR
Human Resource Consulting & Outsourcing


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NOTICE: No Legal Advice Intended: The contents of this email are intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions. No action should be taken in reliance on the information contained on this email. An attorney should be contacted for advice on specific legal issues.