Why spend the time, effort, and resources to comply with employment laws? “We’re small and our resources are very limited. Compliance tasks are just another distraction from making a profit. Besides, our company is so little it’s unlikely we’re even on the regulators’ radar screen. We’ll do the absolute minimum and take our chances.”
First, consider the fact that most employment legal actions arise from current or former worker complaints, not random or even scheduled regulator audits. This makes it all the more hazardous since employees have personal, insider knowledge of the employers’ Human Resources practices and HR policies – they’ve been on the receiving end!
Second, enforcement activity at both the Federal and state levels is up and will probably stay high for the foreseeable future. Flagrant and widespread employer violations in recent years, the economic recession’s pressure on businesses, and a worker-friendly White House all combine to focus far greater attention on workers’ rights than was the case during previous administrations.
Third, violations can be very costly, but can be avoided by implementing compliance programs. A cursory look at Wal-Mart’s experiences reveals why it’s worth doing compliance right. Few American companies have as checkered a history of labor law violations and numerous, multi-million dollar settlements, as Wal-Mart. Yet even the big retailer has learned a lesson in the value of changing its ways. A recent decision by the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit came down squarely in favor of Wal-Mart due to the fact that one of the Company’s operations had developed, implemented, and closely adhered to a sexual harassment policy, even to the point of progressively disciplining and eventually firing an offender. When the harassed, female employee sought damages from the Company, the Court denied her claim, citing Wal-Mart’s close observance of the law against sexual harassment.
Finally, HR compliance is the law. An employer that takes good-faith steps to comply sends a strong message to its employees, customers, and the community at large that it is a reputable organization worth considering as an employer, a vendor, and a corporate citizen. Most workers and businesses would not choose to work for or do business with a company whose clear strategy is to skirt the law whenever possible. Employers seek to differentiate themselves by transparent, sustained observance of employment laws.
So, the choice is yours. Choose wisely.
Nancy Saperstone is a Human Resource Consultant and Blogger for Insight Performance with over fifteen years of experience in Human Resources.
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