When Posters Aren’t Enough

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When posters aren’t enough

Back in the day, I had a life-sized poster of basketball superstar Wilt Chamberlain in my room. Given that he was 7’2” and I wasn’t even five feet tall at the time, the poster made a great impression. Because it was so massive and towered over everything, my Wilt poster got a lot of attention.

These days, it is likely safe to say that the posters in your office are neither as big, nor as noticeable, nor as outlandish, as my Chamberlain poster, but it’s also safe to say that my poster wasn’t as important as your posters.

Indeed, as you well know, those HR and other legally required posters that hang in your break room are pretty important. While most employers know that they are required to display these mandatory labor law postings, here’s the kicker:

An employer’s obligation to inform employees of their legal rights does not end with hanging those legally-required posters.

Did you know that employers are also required by law to distribute certain notices directly to employees? These notices cover a variety of topics and, just like labor law posters, they vary from state to state.

This is not an easy requirement.

  • How do you know which notices are needed, and when?
  • Tracking down the correct notices from the various government agencies takes work
  • The number of these mandatory employee notices has multiplied, especially on the state level

So here’s what you need to know:

1. What notices are required

Many similarities exist between labor law postings and required employee notices. Just like labor law posters, these notices inform employees about various rights. And, just like labor law posters, they vary by state.

These notices cover a range of topics: family and medical leave, workers’ compensation, sexual harassment in the workplace, pregnancy, unemployment compensation, benefits — it depends on the federal and state laws that apply to a given business.

The bad news is that employers are rarely if ever notified of these changes, putting the burden entirely on them to research and monitor changing requirements.

2. When they are required

Some notices are required for all employees at all times, while other are event-driven (meaning you must distribute them when a specific activity occurs.)

For example, a notice may be required:

  • When a new employee is hired
  • When an employee requests time off for family and medical leave, or jury duty
  • When a workplace injury takes place
  • When an employee leaves the company

3. Why it matters

Again, as with your labor law posters, the penalties for noncompliance with these notifications’ requirements can be severe. Federal penalties can add up to $20,521 per violation. Daily fines can also apply when notices are not provided within the time frame specified by law. On the state level, the fines typically range from $100-$500 per violation.

And, as if fines were not enough, a real risk relates to potential employee lawsuits. Failure to comply with required employee notices can be seen as negligence, or even used as evidence of bad faith, which can then multiply the damages awarded.

All of these facts point to the vital importance of staying on top of the requirements and getting the right notices to employees at the right time.

4. Where to get them

Many employee notifications are available for free on federal and state government agency websites. It’s up to each employer to know which agencies issue mandatory notices and monitor them regularly to determine whether they have been updated or new ones issued.

If this is all too confusing, ComplyRight can also help with this.

Once you know what you need to know, then it is a matter of distribution of the notices. This can include by hand, email, in paychecks, or posting electronically. Some notices even requite an employee signature.

The important takeaway is that it is best to stay on top of the need for employee notices, otherwise, like my old Wilt Chamberlain poster, this can become a thing that starts to loom over everything and get a lot of attention, wanted and otherwise.