RADIO SHOW/AUDIO PODCAST
Solutions...with Courtney Anderson! (SwCA)
Episode 158 -
Originally aired 7/31/2014 9:00 AM -
HR HEROES HANGOUT series -
“How much law do I really need to know to succeed in the HR field?”
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TALK SHOW EPISODE NOTES
Our HR HEROES HANGOUT™ series is dedicated to those who serve our societies each day, toiling in the bowels of the human capital infrastructure issues that fuel all organizations (hiring, retention, engagement, efficiency, compensation, legal compliance, policy and procedure continuous improvement, training and education, litigation mitigation, etc.); our HR HEROES! These are the unsung heroes that ensure that organizations achieve and sustain maximum human capital competitive advantage! In this episode our topic is, “How much law do I really need to know to succeed in the HR field?”
Answer: As much as possible.
Human Resources is all about humans! Finding, hiring, retaining, engaging, educating and serving humans. The end-users for organizations are humans. Even at a veterinarian the human is the end-user customer who finds, procures and pays for the animal medical service. In the arts the human audience or attendee is the end-user. For-profit organizations have human end-users as clients and customers as do public governmental agencies. The human is the entire focus of commerce, government and society. It is therefore logical that the expert in human resources is a pivotal role in an organization!
The HR professional is a professional. The field of HR is rapidly changing with new issues impacting business (technology, transparency, innovations, inventions, etc.) and the wider societal frameworks that businesses operate within (law, custom, etc.). The HR professional must understand the basics of the legal framework that their organization exists within. It is not sufficient for an HR professional to know that a particular form must be filled out by staff. They have to understand why the form is filled out (what is the purpose, how does it impact other areas, etc.).
I make the analogy in the show that the legally uninformed HR professional is analogous to a person who does not know how to play a sport being told to stand on a playing field and do a certain movement. What is the bigger picture framework of the game? What are the rules? What is the purpose of the recommended action?
HR is an exhilarating and fascinating field and in many organizations (especially smaller and/ or newer ones) the HR staff member is not a trained specialist. They were simply asked (or even told) that why would now “handle HR stuff.” They do their best without knowledge of the larger framework of employment and/ or labor law but they are not able to determine what is the best course of action for their employer as they don’t even know the game. This most often occurs when someone in leadership conflates the awesome realm of HR with administrative tasks.
It is analogous to a person who knows nothing about baseball watching a professional player and saying, “all they do is stand there most of the time. I could stand there as well as they do!” Yes, for some positions at some times, players do stand in an area. Yet, to equate the entirety of the sophisticated nature of what they do with this one visible behavior is ill-informed, ignorant and incorrect. Similarly, HR HEROES do perform some administrative tasks but that is not the entirely of what they do. They have a sophisticated knowledge and expertise of external law and custom and of internal organizational policies and procedures.
There is so much underneath the outward visible surface of the standing baseball player and the HR professional completing forms as they both internally assess the current events, make complex analysis of a dizzying variety of factors and predict future outcomes and probabilities of reaching their goals. Thus, just as the baseball player must understand the entirety of the scope of the game (not just one pitch or one position, etc.), the HR professional must understand the entirety of the scope of law that impacts (and defines in many important aspects) their professional endeavors. Note that our show sponsor today, HR Direct (there are links for them in the Show Sponsor Spotlight below) has a wealth of resources, tools and solutions to help our HR HEROES continue to thrive (required postings, time tracking, staff training, etc.).
Please join me in this episode as we discuss how much law our HR HEROES really need to know!
I reference this chart in the show: It states in part, "THRESHOLDS FOR COVERAGE UNDER EMPLOYMENT-RELATED LAWS - Not all employers are covered by all of the various Texas and federal employment laws that exist. It is important to know which laws apply to which company or organization, because coverage involves the imposition of important duties for employers to satisfy. Here are the most important employment-related statutes, along with the definition of "employer", the number of employees required for coverage*, and the definition of "employee" for each law."(http://www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/thresholds_for_coverage.html)
NOTE: This chart is great for showing you what laws apply to you! It is based on Texas law but all of the federal laws apply to many people working in the US, US citizens working in many parts of the world (and/or those working for a US organization). You can check and see what state laws would apply to your location (in place of the Texas laws) to get a more complete picture of your individual rights and organizational HR responsibilities.
From an HR perspective analysis, first ask, what are your staff in terms of classification (employees or independent contractors)? Second, how many people are employees at each location? Lastly, where do staff 'work' in order to determine state law coverage (this is complicated due to telecommuting, travel assignments, etc., but start by asking where the employer is legally based)?
For instance, with use of the chart, if someone is an independent contractor working for themselves only the Civil Rights Act of 1866 applies to them (no Title VII, nothing else). If you are an employee working for a small organization with 10 employees the Civil Rights Act of 1866, ERISA, FLAS, OSHA, FUTA and several Texas laws apply (but still no Title VII, no ADA, no ADEA, no FMLA, etc.). If you think that this is silly because these are really small organizations, please remember out of all employers in the 2011 Census Bureau data only 2% of them have more than 20 workers, "firms with less than 20 workers increases to 98 percent" (http://www.sbecouncil.org/about-us/facts-and-data/#sthash.imFXVIcQ.dpuf). Do not make the assumption that the most commonly discussed HR laws automatically apply to your organization. Let me know if you find this information helpful!
Do You Want To Be A HR Hero? NOTE: I recently had a very impressive meeting with one of the leading HR compliance firms in the US (in business since 1984)! The firm operates HRdirect, G.Neil, PosterTracker, TrackSmart!, eFile4biz.com and other HR related solutions. You will recognize many of these HR solutions in our Show Sponsor Spotlight below. One of the most important and impressive aspects of this firm is that they reached out to our website and our show! We had submitted our site to be considered for their approval for advertising via an affiliate network and their executive took the time to compliment our community (that's you) and our content (noting this HR HEROES HANGOUT series and even our site SPONSOR SHOWCASE)!
I spent an hour in the meeting discussing HR in general and their firm expertise specifically. They have US federal and multi-state postings, forms, compliance solutions (many in English and Spanish)! They also have select materials for Canadian firms. I look forward to partnering with them to provide you the most up-to-date and powerful tools to ensure that you are (and/ or continue to be) an HR HERO at your organization!
I know that HR may appear to be an overwhelming field at the outset and is never a profession where you can rest on your past knowledge. There are a multitude of new laws, new court rulings and new business practices to learn and adjust to (but you are never bored in this field)! I encourage you to access their solutions through the links below and support them as they are supporting us. Thank you!
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