Compliance with government regulations is not just to prevent fines and protect your company’s reputation. Depending on what the violation is, it can be the first step in what may become a civil lawsuit and one in which a good part of the evidence may have already been established by virtue of an agency investigation, with an imposed fine or consent agreement. But there is help in keeping your company compliant.
Thousands and often millions of bits of digital data are collected daily, organized, and securely stored in the huge and redundant capacities of the cloud. Staffing Software has become increasingly powerful and able to integrate and deliver a greater number of functionalities and efficiencies that have improved or completely reimagined critically important areas of the software’s management capabilities.
Some of these existing critical areas are in supporting sales, client relations, recruitment, candidate screening, onboarding, training, placement, payroll, insurance, and other management processes, etc.One of the most critical of these is facilitating and documenting compliance with regulatory agencies.
In this article I would like to explore just five of the ways in which good staffing software greatly “facilitates and documents” a company’s compliance strategy. Then I have added (item #6 below) a brief idea on what I call “Proactive Compliance and Staffing Software”.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
This is the omnibus federal legislation that covers wage and hour regulations, overtime rules, child labor, record keeping requirements, equal pay rules, etc. In all comprehensive staffing software, the payroll module provides current tax tables for every taxing authority within the coverage area of the software, usually national.
Certified updates to these tables are installed as required, record keeping requirements are fulfilled and automatically and securely stored, usually in the cloud. Reports (standard or custom) can be generated from these records at any time and in a variety of formats. W2’s are, of course, generated annually from these records and duplicates can quickly be generated as needed.
All of this ensures that the millions of paychecks written, auto deposits made, and debit cards loaded, are accurate, and in the latter two cases, instantly and securely delivered. The system makes a permanent record of every individual transfer of funds and every deduction and its purpose.
Generating reports on any and all aspects of these transactions which may be required from time to time by the company, for internal planning purposes or by regulatory agencies for minimum wage, overtime, child labor, equal pay, ACA eligibility audits, etc. The many types and complexity of reporting available are just more examples of how staffing software facilitates and documents basic wage and hour compliance across many taxing agencies every day.
- Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
OSHA is one of the major players in the compliance area because it deals with the obviously critical issue of the health and safety of workers while on the job. The National Safety Council estimates that work related injuries and deaths cost “the nation, employers and individuals $171 billion dollars in 2019”. There is no dollar value that can be placed on the human pain and suffering caused by these terrible events.
In the “onboarding” process now automated in most staffing software, there is function to store and play (on smart phone or computer) critical OSHA training films together with the ability to document, via electronic signature that the new employee has viewed these films. Then, with one click, these training documentations are automatically uploaded to the employee’s permanent file.
Tests can also be administered via that same company app and instantly uploaded to company software’s file for that particular employee. Incomplete or failed tests can simply be re administered until passed.
The advantages here can be enormous. For example, if a company, on short notice, is filling ten (or 50)“temp” positions for stocking a new warehouse. No need to have all of them come into the office for a safety training film and testing. Each can watch the film, then document that they have watched it by electronic signature.
They can then take and submit an associated quiz on the film for auto correction or auto return, if necessary, until complete and successful. The completed and successful quiz then becomes a document in each employee’s file, and they are ready to report to work. This App based training tool certainly facilitates and documents compliance with some OSHA training guidelines.
Your client agreements (also on file in your software database as documentation) should also indicate specifically who is responsible for safety at the client’s job site together with the location, and availability of all required safety equipment.
- The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Because ACA benefits are linked to income levels for basic eligibility and determining the amount of subsidy, it is a difficult program to administer and especially for staffing companies where a given employee may work only a a few weeks at a time.
But here is an excellent example of where, given clear rules of eligibility, length of employment, income scaled subsidy, employee family status, desired level of coverage, a staffing software can instantly apply those criteria to thousands of different employees and determine a discrete health plan for each.
Here again beginning at the “onboarding” stage (or later) an employee can enter and receive information with an online form, on an App installed on their smartphone, basic personal and family information together with selecting the options that may be available to determine the best plan for them.
Because they are doing this on their phone, they can do it anywhere and easily consult with other family members or friends on their own time schedule. If there are to be payroll deductions, these are auto entered into the software’s payroll module and become fully integrated into the normal payroll schedule instantly.
E-Verify is an amazing tool seamlessly integrated into most staffing software platforms. It gives the company’s staffing software the ability to interface directly with the huge databases of the federal Dept. of Homeland Security, Social Security, and IRS with the limited purpose of doing a search for any records on a job applicant that would qualify them to legally work in the Unites States.
Within minutes (facilitation) a certification is made or denied and the record (document) of this certification is uploaded into the applicant file which will become the permanent employee file once the applicant is hired.
- Special Government Programs Subject to Mandatory Regulations, i.e. FFCRA
During the Covid pandemic period, the U.S. Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), that mandated paid leave, under certain circumstances, for up to 12 weeks. The benefits were to be paid by the employer and re-imbursed via dollar-for dollar tax credits.
Here was a situation requiring absolutely immediate action on the part of software developers to meet very rapid government implementation dates. Like other regulatory requirements their clients needed to have the eligibility rules, time frames, formulas for benefit amounts, and tax credit amounts (for adjusted payroll tax crediting) built into their staffing software.
Having this information built into their software ensured both a comfortable facilitation of the program with the right people getting the right amounts of pay, and, that these payments and associated tax credits would be documented.
I am happy to report that as far as I know, that happened on-time and beautifully in the staffing industry.
- “Proactive Compliance” and Staffing Software
There are many federal and state laws on the books where regular employee training is usually not required, Laws like the, “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act”, or the, “Americans with Disabilities Act”, or the, “Age Discrimination in Employment Act” etc.
I thought of that when I was looking at the “Harassment” page of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website. They have an interesting list of Harassment “types” that often occur in the work environment, and that list interestingly (but not surprisingly) corresponds to the types of employment discrimination that are forbidden by law. For example, harassment against people with disabilities and the “Americans with Disabilities Act”.
Here is EEOC’s list of the different types of “harassment”: race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity or pregnancy), national origin, older age, disability, or gender information (including family medical history).
And we certainly know that we have a problem with all of these issues! They can lead to a hostile work environment, agency complaints, investigations, quitting, lawsuits, and more!
So, I am suggesting a staffing company program called, “Proactive Compliance” to take on a mini educational project to address these issues. I am assuming that many companies have little or no training on most of these harassment issues with the exception of perhaps “sexual harassment”.
Anyway, to facilitate this program we now have the infrastructure. i.e., employees with Apps on their phone where they can access training materials on all of these subjects, written or video, plus interactive testing. And the access is 24/7/365.
Since the program might be voluntary, token rewards could be granted (i.e., Starbucks $5 gift card) for each documented video session plus a successful short quiz (passing grade). Each successful event would also be noted in their permanent employee file as a “Gold Star”.
When selling your company to a new company or on a call-back with an existing client, this voluntary employee educational project, on subjects of interest to most all employers, might be a real plus, or, at least, a good talking point on a “what’s new?”topic of conversation.
As Always, Stay Safe! and pray for Ukraine!