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Start Off the New Year with a Bang (not a Bust)!

It goes without saying that the New Year is a time for fresh starts in life, and the same is true for management of your workplace. The New Year is a great time for getting on, or staying on, the right track and making your workplace one that is productive and safe.  Here are some steps you can take to start off the New Year on the right foot:

  1. Anti-Harassment Training. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that workplace harassment is a hot topic and is something that should be front of mind for any responsible employer. Use the New Year as a time to train all of your employees and managers on your anti-harassment policy. It is more important than ever to have clear communications with your employees that your workplace has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and to communicate your expectations for how employees should conduct themselves in the workplace.
  2. Employer Policies. Dust off your employee handbook and really review it. Do the policies contained within it reflect your employment practices? Does it contain all of the policies you enforce? Is it compliant with the law? Now is the time to revise and redistribute your handbook, provide employees a refresher on its contents, and get those acknowledgements in their personnel files.
  3. Workplace Safety. Are you constantly evaluating your workplace for safety hazards? Are you constantly training workers on how to safely perform their work and monitoring for deviations from best practices? What about Workers’ Compensation programs – are yours legally compliant? Are employees encouraged to promptly report workplace injuries no matter how minor? Do you even know which state and federal regulations apply to your workplace and whether you are compliant? If the answer to these questions is anything other than an unequivocal “yes,” it is time to resolve to do better and ensure a safe workplace.
  4. Employee Evaluations. Are you clearly communicating your expectations to your employees? Are your job descriptions up to date? Are your managers adequately trained on how to perform consistent and accurate evaluations? If you cannot answer “yes” to these questions, resolve to do better in this area this year.
  5. Legal Compliance. Setting aside the points listed above, are you certain that your workplace is otherwise compliant with the law? Have you recently had a discussion with an employment lawyer or had a legal audit to evaluate whether you are aware of and following the law with respect to your employment and payroll practices? Are you doing something to keep yourself abreast of the ever-changing state and federal laws, or is it just “business as usual” or a “head in the sand” mentality at your workplace? Again, now is the time to pick up the phone and be sure your workplace is compliant – do not wait until you have a lawsuit or an administrative investigation to deal with to find out whether you are in compliance with the law.
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About this Author

Allison B. Williams, Employment Attorney, Steptoe Johnson Law Firm
Associate

Allison Williams focuses her practice in the area of labor and employment law, litigation, and higher education law.  Ms. Williams' practice includes cases pending in state and federal courts, as well as actions pending before the West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board, the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

(304) 933-8144