What does it take to comply with regulations such as the FMLA and FLSA?
Keeping a workplace in compliance with all relevant laws from the Department of Labor should be a top priority for any business, regardless of industry. Companies that don’t follow the regulations regarding fair labor practices may end up facing fines and other penalties, along with the reputation damage that can accompany noncompliance.
Rather than taking an informal approach to providing DOL labor law information to management and human resources personnel, companies can and should formalize their training programs, giving a detailed overview of relevant rules and helping their business comply. When managers and HR leaders understand the right way to deal with issues such as medical leave, hours and wages, they’re positioned to keep their organizations compliant and regulators happy.
Exploring DOL Compliance
The following are examples of two DOL laws that impact a wide variety of organizations. Understanding what these regulations include, and how to design systems that are compliant with them from the start, saves companies from violations.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA, which was signed into law in 1993, is a regulation designed to ensure medium and large employers give fair amounts of leave to employees when family or medical situations occur. These workers cannot be fired or otherwise discriminated against for taking the specified amounts of time off. Instead of being paid time off, the leave given under the FMLA is unpaid.
The FMLA only applies to companies with 50 or more workers on staff for 20 or more work weeks. Furthermore, public sector agencies and public or private schools must comply with the FMLA, no matter how few people they employ. Employees covered must have worked for the company for at least 12 months, with 1,250 or more hours of service. These months and hours don’t have to occur consecutively. There are also special time rules in the airline industry.
These employees can take time off when a child is born or adopted, when a spouse, child or parent becomes sick and requires care, when the employee is too sick to work or when a situation occurs because a family member is on active military duty.
To be considered compliant with the FMLA, companies need to publicly post employee rights and responsibilities, provide FMLA info to employees in new hire packets or via handbooks, provide eligibility information to people who request eligible leave and disclose when time is being deducted from an individual’s FMLA allowance.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The FLSA is designed to ensure companies pay their workers fairly. It establishes the federal minimum wage, prevents the employment of people who are too young and specifies rules for the payment of overtime and the keeping of accurate records. The FLSA applies to companies with gross sales volume of $500,00 or more each year, as well as schools, medical care providers and public sector agencies. It also applies to domestic workers who are employed eight or more hours a week and earn a certain amount of wages, as well as non-covered organizations engaging in interstate commerce.
The law contains exceptions and exemptions for HR leaders to familiarize themselves with. These include different minimums for tipped workers and youth employees in their first 90 days of employment. Some employees are also excepted from overtime rules based on their duties, such as farm workers, theater staff, transportation professionals and more.
The FLSA defines the work week clearly to prevent employers from overworking their employees relative to compensation, and requires companies to save records relating to their teams’ work status and pay. Equal pay regardless of gender is also included in the law’s provisions. There are also rules regarding nursing mothers’ rights and clauses preventing employers from retaliating against workers who complain.
Training Managers in DOL Best Practices
Training courses that teach managers and HR team members to properly administer and oversee DOL laws including the FMLA and FLSA may prove valuable for organizations of many sizes and industries. The risk of noncompliance is not worthwhile for any business, and training is the simplest and most straightforward way to give management professionals a clear impression of the best practices associated with their positions. Today’s training courses, delivered as interactive and video-based online materials, are easy to purchase and consume, and don’t require the time and money investments associated with in-person learning.
The provisions laid out by the DOL’s laws represent common sense. Paying fair wages and offering time off in situations when it is needed are important parts of running a responsible business today. Organizations that invest in training to make sure they are in compliance with labor laws gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are fulfilling their responsibility to employees and serving as the kinds of employers people actively want to work for.