This week, I’m putting the finishing touches on Mitchell Hamline’s HR Compliance Certificate Program designed for busy HR professionals looking to increase their knowledge and practical skills. Knowing all the professors in the program, it’ll be great!
While preparing the first course, I’ve peered into the pit of compliance despair. It’s hard to stay on top of compliance. There’s just so much of it, and it’s constantly changing especially this year. State legislatures are full of bills looking to change employment law. Cities and counties either have or are considering changing minimum wage and paid leave laws. It’s enough to make your head spin or make you all reach for a bottle of Advil or Chardonnay. Either way, the pit is deep, dark, and I’m pretty sure it is bottomless. But I love it.
The key to compliance is finding the right balance. Businesses balance regularly. A startup doesn’t always prioritize having an employee handbook or having an attorney write their independent contractor agreements. They are looking to grow and spending money on these items often comes later (even though for some it shouldn’t). Large corporations generally have the capital to review processes and policies to be compliant, but even they find that compliance can be tricky. They make decisions to balance the risk of noncompliance with the benefit to the business.
We all balance risk. Being 100% compliant would mean that I wouldn’t speed (I have) or wouldn’t steal spoons from big events as keepsakes (I do). I don’t intend to steal, commit murder, or discriminate against anyone based on a protected class, but I act while measuring the consequences of the risky behavior. When I do get caught (lots of speeding tickets later), I’ve learned that noncompliance is expensive. Noncompliance with employment law is very, very expensive. And, ignorance to the law is never an effective defense. Saying I didn’t know the speed limit never stopped a trooper from giving me a ticket.
For employers, ignorance doesn’t work. We need to stay on top of the law. You can’t dabble in employment law. You need to be all in or find someone who is. The speed at which we see changes in employment law is so fast Vin Diesel could join our team. Find an employment attorney you like and trust, and spend some time with us. If you’re interested, join us. Take our courses, find us at our speaking events, let us buy you lunch, and ask us all sorts of questions.
Image by Zoe Laughlin