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Good HR Habits for 2020 Good HR Habits for 2020

Good HR Habits for 2020

All people are the same. Only their habits differ. - Confucius

Each New Year brings new opportunity to develop good habits. Indeed, the New Year is the perfect time to take stock of processes and procedures for handling human resource matters. Taking the time now to identify important areas of focus will pay dividends, including greater employee productivity, fewer complaints, and less spent on legal expenses.
  1. Get into the habit of reviewing employee pay in a thoughtful way. Might your company be susceptible to unequal pay claims? Implement a routine practice of reviewing employee pay levels for red flags at least once each year. If you have difficulty explaining differences in pay between two employees who perform the same duties, it may be necessary to make adjustments. Consider engaging counsel in this review for guidance and to help protect any negative results from being discovered if litigation occurs. Next, are you regularly maintaining required pay records? Beyond compliance, good recordkeeping habits will help your business defend against wage-related complaints. Finally, are you in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s new salary threshold of $35,568 per year for exempt employees that took effect on January 1, 2020? Pay levels for otherwise exempt employees must either be increased to that level or the employee converted to non-exempt, overtime-eligible staff. 
  1. Does your company engage independent contractors? If you treat your contractors like your employees, you need to kick the habit. If your contractor performs services for a long duration and/or on a full-time basis; if the work is directed, trained, and/or supervised on a day-to-day basis by management; if you require the work to be performed on a set schedule; or if the contractor is paid similarly to staff and performs similar or core business functions, these factors weigh in favor of employee status and liability can result. Unless alterations can be made to the relationship, the contractor may need to be converted to an employee. 
  1. Old habits die hard. In some workplaces, outdated perceptions persist despite the prevalence of the #MeToo movement. Sexual harassment complaints continue to be filed in great numbers by employees. Harassment training is not only required to protect your company legally, but if it is done right, training can help create a workplace culture where employees feel welcome, respected, and safe. Consider bystander intervention training, so all employees feel empowered to recognize and address inappropriate conduct. You will also need to form good habits surrounding handling of employee complaints. When a complaint alleging harassment or discrimination is filed, immediately investigate the complaint, the employee against whom the complaint is filed, and any witnesses. This may include conducting interviews of the complainant. Take prompt and effective remedial action where warranted, making sure the offending behavior does not recur. 
  1. Don’t fall out of the habit of conducting regular performance evaluations. Consider appropriate timing—employee performance should be reviewed at least once a year, but why not more often? Less experienced staff may appreciate more frequent opportunities to receive feedback about their performance. Consider whether the company’s performance evaluation system creates transparency around expectations, corrects performance problems early, and nurtures talent. If any of these are lacking, consider making adjustments. 
Establishing good habits in these and other areas will set your human resources department up for success in 2020 and beyond. Whether you take steps to correct problems or implement new procedures for compliance purposes, you will be forming good habits that will endure. Here’s to a great 2020!
Germaine Winnick Willett is a member of Ice Miller LLP’s Labor, Employment and Immigration Group. She and Ice Miller’s other labor and employment attorneys assist employers faced with employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour, contract and other employment-related issues, provide advice and counsel regarding employer investigations, and conduct on-site training. For additional information, contact Germaine at (317) 236-5993 or or any member of Ice Miller’s Labor, Employment, and Immigration Group.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader's specific circumstances.
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