Federal agencies under President Barack Obama have done a lot to change workplace regulations and while employers scramble to keep up, there are a few critical things they should keep in mind.
Business associations and some lawmakers have tried to oppose the changes with bills and legal challenges. They warn changes to overtime rules, union elections and contracting threaten businesses across the country. Elizabeth Milito, senior executive counsel at the National Federation of Independent Business, notes the first thing employers should do is make sure they comply with the law.
“I don’t think these issues are going to go away,” Milito told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “That’s why employers and business owners shouldn’t ignore them.”
Employers should also create an environment where employees are comfortable speaking with their bosses. The more issues that can get resolved within a company, the better. Once federal authorities get involved it could subject both employers and their employees to undue hassle and significant legal obstacles.
“This is so employees are comfortable approaching you and not go off somewhere else,” Milito continued. “Have an open door policy.”
Business owners should also pay particular attention to how they compensate employees. Compensation is a critical component to how employers interact with employees, but is easy to get wrong. Upcoming rule changes which could make millions of employees eligible for overtime and payroll rules even more important to consider.
“One of the most important thing a business can do is make sure they are in compliance with wage and hour laws,” Milito noted. “It’s an area easy to get wrong.”
The National Labor Relations Board has been the primary agency implementing the rule changes. The International Franchise Association (IFA) has expressed particular concern with efforts to expand the joint-employer standard. IFA Vice President of Communications Matthew Haller urges companies to get engaged and understand what is happening.
“One thing you got to do is get your head out of the sand and understand what’s going on,” Haller told TheDCNF. “This will fundamentally change how businesses operate in America.”
The standard used to be decided based on whether a company has direct control over the employees of another. Businesses that contract together, like franchises, are usually where the joint-employer standard is implemented. The new standard now looks at indirect control. This makes it easier for multiple companies to be declared a single employer.
“Its an existential threat to the way they do business,” Haller added. “Franchises could consolidate to larger operations or leave the model all together.”
Another policy change, dubbed the “ambush election” rule by critics, has also garnered a lot of attention. It decreases the amount of time before union elections are held. Those opposed warn this will leave employees little time to understand the impact of joining a union.
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