So the option that won from the poll was to do a brief overview of employee legal issues. As it is a huge topic, I will only really briefly touch upon large aspect of the employer-employee relationship. To keep this as brief as possible, I am going to focus on just employment of non-unionized employees. In addition, today’s focus will be about how to think about dealing with employee legal issues with a HR perspective. I will follow-up with a couple more Draw the Laws that focus on narrower aspects of employment law it will also be poll-based.
The Puzzle that is Employment Law
In general, employment law cares about the interactions of the business with its employees. Both the state and federal governments have created laws to regulate hiring, workplace conditions, wages, and the like. Due to our system though we have many laws that overlap, further exceed, or just contradict with each other. In many times, the HR function of a business is playing puzzle-maker trying to get pieces to fit together that do not quite match.
So there are multiple ways to try and figure out how to be in compliance with employment laws. Here are some ways to cope with dealing with the law.
If you are a small business, generally the owner-operator is handling the HR function (along with marketing, operations, and everything else). Due to the fact that you are so tiny, many laws do not affect you, as the have an employee threshold. You can kind of think of the business as a growing bubble, as you add employees the more laws the bubble comes in contact with and must comply with. For example, most of the federal anti-discrimination laws cover employers of fifteen or more, whereas Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is 20 or more, and something like Family Medical Leave Act is 50 or more.
Finally, there are laws that always affect you no matter how small or big you are like Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) and Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
Where are you in the process of dealing with the employee? Are you hiring a new employee? Did you hire the employee and are now training them? Is this an older employee that has been with the company for a while? Or is this an employee you may want to terminate?
Certain laws come into play depending on what stage of the process you are in. In this case, you can kind of think of the laws interaction with your business in stages with on and off switches representing what you can and cannot do at certain stages of the process.
Never Enough Time
I have barely scratched the surface of employment law, but I hope today’s Draw the Law has helped give you a couple ways to think about them. In general, it does seem there is never enough time for dealing with this type of law. However, there are some great resources on the web, and I have some links on my site to help out.
- Be sure to check out these governmental links:
- For Hawaii employers here is a good one:
- My Own Website:
- Social Media and the Law: Employment
- Act 34: Prohibiting Discrimination Against Gender Expression or Identity
Plan Ahead: Policies, Procedures, and Handbooks
A business’s best tool when dealing with employment laws is plan ahead. It will save you some stress and worry later. For me (as seen by these Draw the Law) I like to diagram and sketch things out, as it gives you a kind of map to navigate the issues. If you feel you do not have the energy or skills it is best to hire someone to help develop strategies for you to deal with your worker issues, as noncompliance can lead to penalties by the government and lawsuits from employees. Due to the complexity of employment laws an attorney can advise and help draft your handbooks on polices and procedures.
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*Disclaimer: This post discusses general legal issues, but does not constitute legal advice in any respect. No reader should act or refrain from acting based on information contained herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Ryan K. Hew, Attorney At Law, LLLC expressly disclaims all liability in respect to any actions taken or not taken based on the contents of this post.