In just over a month from now, HR and payroll departments across the country will breathe a collective sigh of relief in the knowledge that the annual tax season is just about over. But the end of tax season does not signify a time to rest. There is still plenty of work to do before companies have to start dealing with summer vacations. In fact, spring is policy review season.
Companies should be reviewing their official policies on an annual basis. Why? Because circumstances change. No policy put in place can effectively remain unaltered in perpetuity without eventually being in conflict with some sort of circumstantial change. Therefore, an annual review is necessary.
Policies Governing Paid Time Off
As a company offering everything from cloud-based payroll to full-service payroll and benefits administration services, we are intimately familiar with company policies governing paid time off. We deal with them all the time. Our experience tells us that these policies are some of the most confusing of all.
A big problem is inconsistency. Both employees and employers are challenged to make sense of time off policies when a document says one thing but practice says another. For example, a policy may be put in place one year, but then altered two or three years later without the actual policy document being updated.
We encourage you to go through your company's official time off policies this spring. Rewrite official policy documents to bring them in line with actual policy practice. Your policies should cover the following, at minimum:
- Eligibility requirements for both paid and unpaid leave
- Types of leave available to employees
- Number of paid days employees are allowed per year
- Procedures for requesting time off.
Workplace Harassment Policies
States are gradually getting on board with the idea of requiring employers to develop official workplace harassment policies. If your state requires such policies, spring is a perfect time to review what you already have in writing. If your state has no requirement, your company would still do well to develop a comprehensive harassment policy. Such a policy would cover:
- Clear definitions of what constitutes harassment
- Clearly defined consequences for harassing others
- Avenues victims have for reporting harassment
- Clear guidelines for taking corrective action
- Language prohibiting retaliation against victims or whistleblowers.
Policies Governing Overtime
Over time has been a sticky issue for the last decade. Owners and managers have had to balance the need to get the work done with the amount of money they can afford to pay for overtime. Steering clear of confusion and disagreement is a matter of having solid overtime policies in place.
A good overtime policy dictates circumstances under which overtime is, or is not, allowed. It stipulates who has the authority to make overtime decisions and, if applicable, any limits on the amount of overtime employees can accrue during a given time period.
Note that a company's overtime policies do not supersede federal and state laws. Non-exempt employees still must be paid the equivalent of time-and-a-half for every hour in excess of 40 worked during a normal work week.
Here at BenefitMall, we are in the business of offering payroll and benefits administration services. While we do not directly handle developing and writing company policies, what we do is influenced by such policies on a daily basis. We encourage you and your company's HR department to spend some time this spring reviewing and updating all company policies as they relate to HR and payroll. Keeping policies up-to-date will make running your business easier.