By Elspeth Crawford
One of the top areas of concern for employers is compliance. This is where the legal and human resources worlds collide. Compliance encompasses any laws or regulations the business must follow, as well as the employer’s own policies. Often a lawyer and/or human resource personnel work to ensure that employees at all levels of the company are working in compliance with these laws and policies. Legal issues and lawsuits can arise if compliance rules are not followed.
Ensuring quality compliance in the scope of employment takes planning, action, checking, and responding. As an employer, staffing is the first place to start. Employers want to hire employees that understand and work in compliance with company policies and procedures. Employees should respect and promote a culture of compliance. By doing so, legal issues for the employee and employer are avoided. Additionally, planning quality compliance requires attention to policies. Policies should be simple, updated, and realistic. They should establish reporting (including self-reporting) procedures and provide examples.
Once policies have been established, a calendar should be created with a built in “tickler system”. A tickler system is a way of checking compliance obligations. Once these triggered obligations are identified, decide on a period for the “check-ups”. Also, consider what steps to take if an obligation has not been completed. When planning the tickler system calendar, it is important to remain organized and decide who receives alarms resulting from the checks. This system should be organized so that there are independent, separate authorities that can police.
The next step is educating employees about the created policies, and any laws or regulations pertinent to their positions or the industry. To establish training expectations, an employer needs to identify needs by considering any contracts, regulations, permits, and policies to which the employees are subjected. Scheduling training requires the employer to consider the period, length and frequency of the training, as well as whether internal or external sources will be providing the training.
For compliance purposes, determining how training was conducted, who attended, and testing should measure the training process. Measuring training is important to ensure that the tactics were effective in providing employees with an understanding of the required compliance for their jobs. If training is not measured, the employer has wasted time and money, and legal issues with noncompliance are more likely to arise.
It is important to check employees’ performance with respect to compliance. The employer should have in place a system by which to monitor, assess, and audit. Completing reports and addressing inquiries efficiently will lessen noncompliance. With an agenda and record focused on education and improvement, examining issue-areas will be much simpler.
If compliance issues do arise, it is important to act quickly. This goes for the employee and the employer. An employee should report any noncompliance that becomes known to them, and the employer should be prepared to respond with assistance. If the non-compliance can be corrected, then the liability could be reduced or eliminated. If noncompliance becomes serious, changes in organizational structure, roles, and responsibilities may be due.