Employment-related complaints accounted for nearly 88 percent of all discrimination cases received by the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) in 2015. It’s not surprising then that discrimination claims are one of the top reasons employers in Hawaii face legal action.
Forgoing compliance training for your workforce can be risky. Retaining a legal team isn’t always an option, so training and education can be a more manageable way for businesses to prevent potential compliance issues from becoming costly legal issues.
What should compliance training cover?
Here are some topics that businesses should consider including as part of their compliance training program:
Equal Employment Opportunity
The HCRC works in conjunction with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to protect employees and job applicants from discrimination in the workplace. Managers should be aware of the protected classes, what constitutes unlawful discrimination and harassment, and how to prevent retaliation if a complaint is filed (Note: not all employers are covered by the EEOC).
Disability discrimination was the top employee-related complaint received by the HCRC in 2015—accounting for just over 27% of complaints and up from 17% the year prior. This stresses to employers not only the need to review their policies and practices for compliance with The American with Disabilities Act Amendments Acts of 2008 (ADAAA), but to educate managers on how to properly handle requests for disability-related accommodations in the workplace. Training should cover documentation procedures and ways in which companies can offer alternatives if they are unable to reasonably accommodate employee requests.
Diversity and inclusion
As the melting pot of the Pacific, Hawaii is home to an incredibly diverse workforce. Companies should have a workplace culture that does its best to embrace diversity and inclusion—not just as a means to boost financial performance but as a way to promote collaboration and innovation. Training gives front-line managers the tools to create a respectful, yet highly productive work environment. It can also help managers to better address cultural or behavioral misunderstandings in the workplace that may otherwise be perceived as discrimination or harassment.
Employee absences (planned or unplanned) are a normal part of managing a workforce. Due to often tedious details, it can be tricky to know which benefits apply (if any) under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Hawaii Family Leave Law (HFLL), Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), and Worker’s Compensation. It’s imperative that managers are not only aware of the regulations surrounding leaves of absences but also are prepared to properly handle a situation when it arises.
Reporting and investigating
How employee complaints are handled is equally as important as the complaint itself. In many cases, management has a responsibility to investigate wrongdoing, regardless of whether a formal employee complaint exists or not. Make sure they know who to report the alleged behavior to (usually an HR representative) and that there are processes in place for handling such situations.
How to make compliance training effective
In order for compliance training to be effective, employers need to view compliance as more of an integrated part of their company culture, and less of a checklist of required regulatory training. It’s helpful to have an HR or compliance officer check-in with managers on a regular basis. It gives them an opportunity to ask questions and provides another set of eyes to spot issues before they become complaints or even lawsuits.
Employers often put off compliance training for as long as possible or wait until it’s too late before they even begin to think about it. Many companies don’t have the experience or expertise to undertake this type of complicated compliance training alone. We have a team of dedicated HR Consultants who can walk you through our comprehensive list of HR and safety related training services to help get your team the training they need. To schedule a consultation, call (808) 591-4900 or email [email protected].
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.