Compliance Checklist for 2009

Throughout the 2008 year, up to and within 2009, several new employment statues and laws became effective coupled with many interesting court decisions.  Many of those new findings and laws require proactive responses by us as employers. With our economy being suppressed, it becomes critical for employers to be the best stewards possible with their employees.   Below is a summary list of what I believe employers need to do now to assist them within the 2009 season:


Create a culture that promotes a transformational HR department. Focus on supporting the mission of your organization strategically so that everything you do can be explained in terms of how it is impacting the objectives and metrics of the organization.


Develop a human resource strategy surrounding your options in a down economy.  When examining options, remember that cutting jobs alone is the weakest way to save money and does the greatest damage for morale.   Take the time to strategically revise your HR model once for the next three years.


Bring about a complete human resource audit. Reevaluate employee handbook, job descriptions, exempt and nonexempt classifications, performance, processes.   Focus the audit on strategy versus compliance only.


Review meal and rest period policies and procedures. While Brinker is awaiting review by the California Supreme Court, employers should consider maintaining a policy that requires employees to take meal and rest breaks. Employers should work with managers to ensure that there are no impediments to employees taking their required breaks.


Continue Documenting Break and Meal Periods. Keep records indicating that required breaks were taken. Consider having employees sign time cards that include a statement that the card accurately reflects the hours the employee worked and that the employee was provided an opportunity to take all breaks to which he or she is entitled. If an employee misses a meal or rest break, make the Labor Code Section 226.7 payment in the next paycheck, being sure to itemize it on the pay stub.


Audit your exempt – nonexempt classifications. One of the biggest areas of liability with overtime and meal/rest breaks liability stems from improperly classifying employees as exempt and therefore not affording them the opportunity to take regular breaks and receive overtime pay.


Update your FMLA policy. Add the new military family leave requirements.


Tighten up interactive process procedures. Because both state and federal law now define disability quite broadly, more disability bias litigation will turn on whether the employer properly engaged in an interactive process with a disabled employee to find a reasonable accommodation. Thus, be sure you have procedures in place so that the interactive process can be quickly launched when an accommoda­tion might be needed.


Update your cell phone policy. Include the new restrictions on using electronic wireless communication devices while driving.


Add SMART phone usage to your Electronic Communication Policy. Clearly outline business usage and, for nonexempt employees, allowable overtime when outside of the workplace.


Update your disability policy. Make sure the policy’s language reflects ADA changes. Most policies should already be in compliance because the California FEHA is already stricter, but employers with employees in other states may have to do some updating.


Update your medical confidentiality policy. Ensure that it complies with confidentiality requirements for genetic information as GINA requires.

Get ready for possible union changes. If the Employee Free Choice Act becomes law, unions will have more power to organize workplaces. The surest way to fend off organizing efforts is to audit your employment practices to determine whether there are any issues that make your company vulnerable to aggressive organizing or negotiations, such as compensation and healthcare issues. It’s also wise to develop an appropriate labor relations strategy for your organization, and to make sure that management is well briefed on the strategy and on how to legally handle union organizing.


Learn more about Generation X and Generation Y. Clearly they are different than the baby-boomers and need to be supported in a way that makes them want to come work for your organization.


Train and develop management. Educate managers, supervisors and executives about the new laws and cases, and make sure they’re aware of new revisions to company policies and procedures.


Check your workplace posters, brochures and forms to ensure they are all current. Make sure you have the military family leave supplemental poster in place as well as current versions of all other required posters and forms.


About the author:


Ron Smedley is president of Synergistic Resource Associates, a full-service human resource/development consulting group that works directly with both marketplace and ministry organizations.  As a professional human resource generalist, Ron is often called upon in the area of labor law interpretation and policy/procedure writing with the focus on practically, strategically, and relationally synergizing the systems of the organization with the development of their leadership and employees.  Besides consulting full-time, Ron instructs graduate adult students at Biola University and Claremont Graduate Universities within leadership, performance management, personal and corporate conflict, human resource strategy and ethics courses.


Ron’s passion is seeing men, women and organizations grow beyond their paradigm and the “box” they so often place themselves within.  For questions or support surrounding this article or other people development areas, email him at or call 714.993.5003. His office is located in Placentia, CA.



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