Key learnings to help employers grapple with continuous regulatory changes
By Sandra Moran, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at WorkForce Software
September 20 2023 - Recent CIPD research revealed that executive leadership teams place compliance issues within the top three most important non-financial metrics, with business leaders keen to protect their organisations from lawsuits, penalties and potential reputational damage.
Yet, legal compliance remains a significant challenge for compliance leaders and HR teams, who are faced with a seemingly endless array of legal obligations to their workers such as those governing leave entitlements, wage standards and scheduling requirements. On top of this, policies regarding unions, workplace safety, and industry standards also fall within the responsibility of HR departments but require close collaboration with operational leaders in order to both maintain compliance and support the operational requirements of the business.
In July alone, for example, the UK Government announced a raft of new changes in employment law - from the introduction of The Carer's Leave Act 2023 and The Protection from Redundancy Act 2023, to the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 which enables workers to have more flexibility over where and when they work.
With so many regulations in so many areas to keep track of, effective compliance checks are critically important to prevent financial, civil and even criminal penalties. So, what key learnings should organisations keep in mind to stay on top of continuous regulatory changes and avoid costly compliance problems?
Ensuring employer compliance
Determine which laws apply to your employees - Not every employment law applies to every employee or organisation. For instance, certain laws may apply to larger employers more so than smaller ones. Meanwhile, other laws will only apply to staff who have worked for an organisation for a certain amount of time. Compliance and HR teams should put time behind researching and understanding their organisations' unique compliance concerns to determine which specific laws they need to abide by and work with operational leaders to assess impacts to operations.
Use modern cloud technologies to your advantage - One way to better ensure compliance is through cloud technology. With so many employment laws to contend with and so many regulatory changes to track, manual workforce administration is time-consuming, inefficient and prone to human error. Compliance and HR leaders can reduce the strain of managing legal compliance using manual processes by investing in modern, cloud-based workforce management solutions.
Perform internal compliance audits - Every year or two, compliance and HR teams should conduct a compliance audit to determine if they are conforming to global, regional and national employment laws. Compliance audits are important because they help employers know if they need to strengthen their compliance activities in a particular area, such as internal policies or external regulations. Compliance audits also create a detailed, documented paper trail that will help establish compliance if you are ever involved in an agency investigation or lawsuit.
Place focus on continuous learning and development (L&D) - Whether following internal policies and procedures or complying with external regulations, compliance should be ingrained in the conscience of the entire organisation. Compliance and HR teams should make sure that all members of their management team are knowledgeable about the employment laws and policies applicable to employees.
It's best practice to constantly review and tweak policies and procedures that may no longer be relevant as a whole or to certain employee types. In some cases, even managers who have been with a company for decades may not be fully aware of every policy. Thus, it's most important to provide as much training and resources as possible to empower staff to remain compliant.
One of the best strategies to incentivize employees to know their workplace's policy is to prioritise ease of access. Having workplace rules spread across platforms makes it easy for workers to find company information. Devote a section of the company's online platform to all internal and external policies and digitize these policies so they can be easily accessed and updated by employees throughout their employment.
Ultimately, the more familiar employees are with what's expected of them, the more ingrained a culture of compliance will be, and the less likely they are to inadvertently violate corporate and regulatory guidelines.
Don't think your company is alone in struggling with legal compliance - this remains an issue for all employers, regardless of company size or sector. Modern cloud-based technologies could help companies to reduce the sheer volume of manual workforce administration that is required to remain on top of continuous regulatory changes.
These solutions reduce costs and save significant team time and resources. Most importantly, they enable teams to focus on high-value tasks like operational execution and regular compliance audits, which are vital to effectively evaluate your organisation's conformity to global, regional and national employment laws.
At the same time, compliance shouldn't be viewed as an issue for HR and compliance teams alone. Instead, regulatory compliance should be ingrained in the conscience of your entire organisation. Looking ahead, the winners will be the organisations that offer continuous L&D opportunities around employment laws and policies applicable to employees, along with easily accessible employment policies and procedures that keep pace with business needs.