Hiring staff in the US and dealing with the labor laws
There are many labor regulations to be aware of if your company has operations in the US.
Human resources (HR) departments are highly regulated in the US by federal, state and municipal rules and labor laws. Your compliance activities, hiring approach, benefits offering and recruitment efforts may all be affected by the regulations.
Here are some of the current key HR issues to bear in mind for US operations.
Verifying identity and employment authorizations
All new hires in the US must provide proof of their identity and ability to work in the US. Both employees and employers must complete the recently revised I-9 form, which can be submitted electronically.
Fair Labor Standard Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) injunction ended on 30 June 2017. The Department of Labor has accepted public input in formulating a revised regulation. However, it is unclear how the new Secretary of Labor will influence employment laws. Companies operating in the US will need to keep an eye on these issues as they develop so they can be proactive rather than reactive when new rules arise.
Criminal background checks
Many states have recently implemented stricter parameters on questions about an applicant’s criminal background. Some states do not permit companies to ask about criminal background on an employment application. However, other states have hiring laws that require employers to carry out responsible due diligence on new hires.
This requires detailed attention. Take the plan document requirements under ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) for example. Most employers think their benefits carrier or broker supplies this information, but there is also an employer section that must be supplied. This is quick to correct and can be done electronically, but it is important to understand what is required.
Setting up in the US for the first time
US employer regulations are quite complex, so it is much better to uncover any compliance issues during a routine, ‘friendly’ assessment than from a regulatory agency or in response to litigation. It is worthwhile establishing a relationship with an HR consultant, legal counsel and insurance broker to help navigate labor and employment requirements. First-time employers in the US should make sure they work with professionals that have expertise in federal, state and local requirements so that HR functions are set up appropriately from the beginning.