On average, there are 75 mandatory labor law posting changes a year. So who has time to stay on top of all the nuances of complying with labor law posters, following the correct processes, and staying abreast of recent immigration issues?
Fortunately, Ashley Kaplan (pictured) helps small businesses comply with these types of urgent matters. With more than 15 years of labor law experience, Kaplan is the Senior Employment Law Attorney for G.Neil, a leading provider of human resource and employment compliance products for small businesses.
Now, as an advisor to Intuit’s Labor Law Poster Compliance Service, Ashley is providing small business employers with an easy way to mitigate the risks of audits, fines, and employee lawsuits by complying with federal and state requirements on an ongoing basis.
We asked Kaplan some questions about the moving target of labor law compliance.
ISBB: Can small businesses comply with labor law posters themselves?
Kaplan: Given the risks of non-compliance and the time and resources required to get it right, small businesses shouldn’t be doing this on their own. There are so many compliance requirements and so many ways to make a mistake. For example, small businesses have to post five separate federal labor law notices to their employees. In addition, they also have to worry about individual state law requirements, which can include as many as 12 additional postings. The notices range from Equal Employment Opportunity to OSHA safety rights, to military and family leave, minimum wage, unemployment and workers’ compensation, fair employment, and immigration.
Is there a one-stop shop to get all of these compliance requirements from the federal government?
Not from the government. To get them on your own, an employer would have to contact as many as seven different federal and state agencies, depending on the state. You’d also have to know which specific posters to request for your business.
Couldn’t you go to your state labor department to get the right posters?
Yes, you can get the ones enforced by that agency, but there are sister agencies you may not know about that have other labor law poster requirements. Each agency is responsible for issuing its own posters, and there’s not a common source for all federal and state posters.
What happens if you don’t follow the right processes?
There are major penalties and fines associated with non-compliance, which can be as high as $17,000 for federal non-compliance. The worst of it is if there’s an employee lawsuit over employee rights covered by a poster you failed to post. By failing to post, you can lose your best defenses such as “good faith” in a discrimination case. It can also extend the statute of limitations forcing you to defend time-barred claims and increasing the period of recovery for back wages. The results can be devastating to a small business.
How often do the labor laws actually change?
These requirements change constantly, and the government does not notify business when changes occur. There are, on average, about 150 changes per year and half of them require mandatory updates. It’s not always easy to determine which changes are mandatory and which are cosmetic.
A lot of these posters have requirements as to size, font, and color, so you’d have to figure that out by doing some research. You need time, knowhow and resources to get it all right.
Do the “labor law poster police” ever visit an office to see if you’re compliant?
There are federal audits around employment law compliance, but typically it’s not just about posters. When they occur, government officials begin by asking to see your employee posters.
Recently in New Jersey, the Attorney General “raided” a bunch of businesses in retail centers and strip malls and found them to be non-compliant with a specific state poster that had just been updated.
How have recent immigration issues impacted small businesses?
We’ve seen huge movement in the current administration to increase enforcement and penalties, and a lot of states are now being required to participate in the eVerify program, a government database of over 1 billion people connected to Social Security records. Six states now require this. There’s also a mandatory requirement for an eVerify poster in these states and for federal contractors across the country.
In eight states, with more to come soon, if businesses violate employee immigration laws, they can have their business license revoked. States are starting to implement more severe penalties than we’ve ever seen on a federal level.
There are 279 similar measures that were introduced into various state legislatures in just the first half of the year, and over 2,300 audit notices issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency that enforces immigration compliance.
About Ashley Kaplan
Ashley Howell Kaplan has practiced labor and employment law for more than 15 years. In her current role as Senior Employment Law Attorney for G.Neil, Ashley manages product innovation and development of business compliance solutions, including HR tools to help employers manage personnel issues legally and effectively. Get more information at Intuit’s Labor Law Poster Compliance Service.