Why Human Resources Professionals Need to Know Employment Law
Human Resources professionals may not specialize in Employment Law like an employment lawyer, however they are expected to be very knowledgeable in this area. HR professionals must be well-versed in many different employment laws, in order to be effective and compliant when dealing with employees. Many HR functions are governed by the law and include: employee relations, recruitment, compensation, benefits management, occupational health and safety, and policy development. An effective HR professional will look through an ‘employment law lens’ and take a proactive approach to retaining a dedicated, engaged workforce, mitigating risk, maintaining compliance, and recommending and implementing HR best practices. A solid understanding of employment law for an effective HR Professional is especially crucial in the areas identified below.
Knowledge and Expertise
Employment laws are constantly changing. Successful HR professionals stay up-to-date on current laws to ensure policies that are implemented in your organization are compliant with the law. They also continuously expand their expertise and knowledge by participating in HR associations, networking with other HR professionals, attending HR/Employment Law seminars and reading trade publications. By staying abreast of employment regulations, HR professionals can help your organization mitigate employment-related risks. A successful HR professional will also be confident in advising your organization when it is necessary to consult an employment lawyer. MaxPeople’s seasoned HR Professionals often consult with and learn from our in-house employment lawyers from Rodney Employment Law to ensure our clients are compliant with the law.
Employment Policies and Procedures
The Employee Handbook is one of the most essential documents for your organization. HR professionals have the important task of ensuring the employee handbook is kept up to date and compliant with current legislation. Handbooks set expectations around performance, behaviour and organizational culture for managers and employees. It also provides a clear set of rules and guidelines that can be reviewed during employee onboarding and serve as a point of reference should a dispute occur.
Not complying with employment laws could result in significant financial risks for your organization. It is vital for HR Professionals to conduct scheduled audits to prevent legal liabilities. This involves periodically auditing your organization’s HR policies, practices, employment agreements, tools and programs to ensure they are in compliance with your company’s values and beliefs, as well as the law.
Training and Education
One of the many jobs of Human Resources professionals is providing training to employees and management of company policies and guidelines. It is essential to review your employee handbook with your managers to ensure they understand their responsibility to uphold expected standards and be role models for other employees. It is important to note that a greater responsibility is placed on employees in a managerial position within an organization. Employees must be trained so that they are educated and aware of expected behaviors. It is also important to provide updates to your employee handbook, and provide periodic retraining to all employees on important issues, such as sexual harassment.
Healthy and Safe Workplace
HR Professionals have to be educated on Human Rights issues and Occupational Health and Safety regulations. Many compliance issues are often the result of employers not meeting basic principles relating to creating a safe and healthy workplace for employees. This includes regulations relating to workplace discrimination, accommodating disabilities and harassment. Some provinces also have accessibility stand-alone laws, such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA) and the Manitoba Accessibility Act
Trustworthy and Ethical
All HR professionals must have a strong sense of ethics. HR should take an active role in eliminating bias and providing equal opportunities. From dealing with private, personal information to ensuring the organization’s needs are met, HR professionals have a duty to act ethically.
Employment Law plays a significant role in human resources management. Successful HR professionals must be very well-versed in Employment Law to ensure their organization is performing its due diligence to be compliant. Maybe it’s time to proactively assess where your organization falls on the HR compliance spectrum? Reach out to MaxPeople to speak with one of our HR professionals or employment lawyers to ensure your organization is setup for success.