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Six HR Resolutions to Make - and Keep - in 2017

In the ever-changing world of HR compliance and best practices, it’s hard to keep up with what small companies should - and should not - be doing.  Here are six essential resolutions to help you avoid HR traps now, and into the New Year:
1. Use the New I-9 Form
The USCIS will publish a revised I-9 form by November 22, 2016.  The current version (revision date 03/08/2013N) will be acceptable for use until January 21, 2017, after which time it, and all prior versions, will be invalid. The changes in the form and instructions are designed to help employers reduce technical errors for which they can be fined.  Employers will fill out the new form using Adobe Reader and then print the form, obtain handwritten signatures, store properly, and monitor re-verifications and updates as needed.
2. Conduct a Wage and Hour Audit
Employers should conduct a Wage and Hour Audit to ensure that they comply with the new DOL Overtime laws going into effect on December 1, 2016.  Changes include salary level increases, how nondiscretionary bonuses can be included, and automatic updates to salary levels going forward.  Since many small employers may not fully understand or correctly implement current Wage and Hour laws, it’s important to audit your business practices to make sure you are compliant.
3. Have a Comprehensive Written Information Security Plan
Many states, including Massachusetts, have laws requiring businesses to put written security plans in place.  These plans cover how the personal information of employees and customers (name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, driver’s license number, bank or credit card number, etc.) must be maintained and secured, both electronically and in paper format.  Take some time in 2017 to review your encryption and other operating system security measures, and train your staff on the importance of personal information security.
4. Implement a Mobile Device Policy
If you provide employees with company mobile devices (laptops, tablets, cell phones), or they access company email and other data from personal devices, you should make sure your security measures cover these devices. Is the data suitably encrypted when remotely accessed?  What happens if the device is lost or stolen? Your exposure for data breaches may apply, whether the data is stolen from your internal network or from a personal cell phone.
5. Act on the new OSHA Rule
Effective November 1, 2016, OSHA issued a new rule requiring employers to notify employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses, free of retaliation.  Employers are required to establish a “reasonable procedure” for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.  Employers may meet the notification obligation for this rule by posting the latest version of the OSHA “It’s the Law” poster by November 1st.  The new poster may be downloaded here: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/poster.html
6. Review and Revise your Drug Testing Policy
OSHA takes the position that it is a violation of the new regulations described above for an employer to automatically drug test after accidents.  The preamble to the regulations state that drug-testing policies “should limit post-incident testing to situations in which employee drug use is likely to have contributed to the incident, and for which the drug test can accurately identify impairment caused by drug use.”  Employers should review their drug-testing policies for compliance.
To sum up, keeping these resolutions will help you be compliant in 2017 and beyond. If you have questions about how to implement these and other best practices in your workplace, or would like information about our HR Audits and Training Services, feel free to contact us at mtaylor@taylorhrgroup.com.
Megan Taylor
HR Consultant and Attorney, Taylor HR Group, LLC

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