A Legal Guide to HR
What is HR exactly?
We hear it tossed around in shows like The Office, or maybe even in your own domain. Human Resources, otherwise known as HR, is related to Labor and Employment Law, encompassing various regulations specific to the workplace. These professionals oversee managerial duties including but not limited to hiring, firing, benefits, wages, paychecks and overtime. Some of their work might also include workplace safety, privacy while helping to prevent discrimination and harassment.
Things you might find are dear to HR professionals are employee handbooks, policies and procedures, company policies, compliance audits, company benefits and confidentiality agreements. It’s the duty of HR to maintain positive employee relations and coordinate administrative function, helping to boost office morale.
Custom and Practice HR
Sometimes, you’ll hear the phrase, “custom and practice” when discussing HR. Rather than having distinctive components, it’s more about analyzing which one is to be used in a given situation.
If written terms are absent, you may rely on the concept of custom and practice. Essentially, it’s an agreement that’s never quite been set in stone but is understood. This could be a practice that has developed over time or an arrangement that has been negotiated verbally. Regarding Employment Law and this practice, it’s important to note the following stipulations: Custom and practice must be established and followed over a long period of time and is followed consistently throughout the company. If the agreement has been created on a temporary business, any claims are likely to be defeated if broken.
A custom and practice case needs to have continuously and consistently applied and above all, must be reasonable and lawful.
It must also be known to both parties, communicated verbally and carried out during each occasion with the expectation of implementation.
Seeing HR in Action
We’re all familiar with the typical, “play nice with others” but some of the areas you may see HR in practice include overtime and overtime pay. Properly communicating and confirming rates of pay, salaries, bonuses and benefits to each and every employee/agent/or independent contractor is key.
In addition, accurately classifying and knowing which employees are exempt from overtime wages versus those employees which are not exempt from overtime wages is extremely vital. A new law (Final Rule: Overtime Law) has recently been passed relating to white collar exemptions or exemptions for Executive, Administrative and Professional workers which increases the standard salary requirement to $913 per week and $47,476 annually for a full-year worker.
Several key provisions to the Final Rule apply and some other exemptions are affected by the new law while other exemptions are still valid and are not affected by it. Navigating through the new law and existing laws can be confusing and costly. It will important for employers and employees alike to become familiar with these new provisions and understand their effect.
It’s often difficult establishing proper custom and practice in the workplace. It’s important for employers to have clear and concise policies, procedures, rules and expectations in place to defeat what could result in costly mistakes and unwanted and time-consuming litigation.