Pandora’s Box with Onboarding Compliance

chest-150392_640More than ever, legislative regulations have become increasingly dynamic and have proven to be daunting for many employers. No longer can employers depend on a static cheat sheet to help guide them through all the laws and rapidly changing regulations. One key area that has gotten the attention of many employers is the quickly evolving area of state-specific new-hire notification requirements.

When it comes to onboarding compliance, staffing organizations are faced with a number of distinct challenges. By nature, staffing firms onboard a high number of new hires each month, often have a dispersed workforce across multiple states, and have unique employee scenarios to manage, such as breaks in service. These factors, coupled with each state having its own unique regulations makes it even more challenging to comply with the various new-hire notification requirements. To further complicate the issue, many states do not provide a template for the notification, just the regulations, so companies must interpret the legislation and create their own forms. Doing so can open the organization to be at risk if they don’t understand the law or are missing key pieces of information.

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So, what can your staffing organization do to start the onboarding compliance journey off on the right foot and help minimize risk, reduce costs and deliver all required notifications to new hires? Consider the following best practices:

  • Review existing new hire requirements in each state you have employees: State legislation around onboarding and notifications continues to increase. Protect yourself by staying up to date on the policies of any state you currently operate in or may do so in the future. Enlisting the help of internal or external legal counsel and an electronic onboarding provider can help you keep up with any legislative changes around electronic state notifications.
  • Continue to monitor new legislation and update onboarding paperwork: The only constant around state-required notifications is change. Keep track of these changes by subscribing to compliance updates from law firms and by looking to onboarding providers that can automate this service.
  • Create a method for implementing new requirements: As new requirements have to be implemented quickly, get ahead of the game by establishing a process now for implementing change in a timely fashion. An automated electronic system is ideal, helping the company implement changes at the corporate level and cascade them out to all locations. Your electronic system should also facilitate proper version control, while role-based approvers and publishers can help you follow your legal counsel’s advice for changing new hire documentation. Having a plan in place with multiple levels of support will also help to ensure coverage if a process owner is unavailable when a new notification must be published.
  • Be specific in your notification documents: Factors like wage notifications, leave of absence laws, vacation policies and other obligations vary dramatically under the various state laws. Since there is no one-size-fits-all approach, taking an overly generic strategy can lead to risk. Should a state publish a notification template, the state will expect that exact template to be in use during an audit.
  • Audit yourself and create a detailed trail: Through regular self-audits of your current processes, you can hopefully uncover any potential problem areas before they grow into bigger problems. Keep a strong audit trail by tracking employee notifications, as well as timing, people involved in the delivery and receipt, and the employee’s signature on the actual document delivered. Working with the legal team on the best way to conduct self-audits to protect your organization will also be helpful.
  • Maintain a database of documentation: Throughout the onboarding process, you collect a great deal of sensitive information, and this data must be maintained securely. An electronic-based repository can help protect such documentation with roles-based access, so only relevant stakeholders can access it. Centralized document retention can also make it easier to produce the documents signed by the employee in case of an audit or litigation. If these documents are misplaced, which can happen especially in organizations with multiple locations, and if you cannot produce the document, you cannot prove it was delivered to the employee.

Stating that the last couple of years have brought a breadth of new legislative regulations to employers would be an understatement. Employers have been tasked again and again with managing complex federal and state regulations. The reality is, employers need to be well-informed, and their onboarding compliance needs to be well-managed; otherwise they are potentially opening Pandora’s Box filled with fines, lawsuits, adverse publicity and expensive litigation.

A robust solution that can help employers mitigate risks and stay on top of this ever-changing federal and state regulatory landscape is no longer a nice-to-have; it is a must-have, especially when your geographical footprint makes your organization responsible for complying with a multitude of different laws and regulations.

Learn more in a recent Equifax Labor and Employment Bulletin of key state legislations to watch in 2016.

MORE: Beware of the paperless office

Lou Reavis

Lou Reavis
Lou Reavis has more than 25 years of experience in the Staffing Industry. As staffing vertical business leader at Equifax Workforce Solutions, she is responsible for setting the overall strategy and marketing plan for the staffing vertical.

Lou Reavis

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