professional sitting behind desk conducting HR self-assessment guide

HR Self-Assessment Guide

The HR Self-Assessment Guide is composed of six modules. Each HR assessment section may be taken independently of the others, and is separately graded. You may take each module as many times as you like. Once you complete a module, your score will be calculated and displayed along with explanations for the answers in that module. Your scores are not stored in a database, so please print the results page for each module if you need it for future reference.  The six modules comprising the Guide are listed below:

  1. HR Management Practices
  2. Employee Classification, Compensation and Benefits
  3. Employee Relations
  4. Recruitment and Selection
  5. Safety, Health and Security
  6. Training and Development

Please follow the instructions below as you answer the questions:

  • Please answer all questions unless otherwise instructed. In some cases, selecting an answer will require you to skip some of the subsequent questions. If you inadvertently make an entry in a question that should be skipped, your response will not be considered.
  • Keep in mind that the questions apply to company-wide human resources practices.
  • Some questions may require internal research to arrive at an accurate answer. As much as possible, base your answers on a review of documentation maintained by your company.

Click to get started.

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HR Compliance Quick-Check

Whether your company has 5 or 500 employees, it’s important to conduct a regular review of your HR and benefits-related notices, records and procedures to ensure compliance with the law and prevent potential liabilities and employee lawsuits. The checklist below features key steps for evaluating your management practices to help keep your company HR compliant.

Hiring

  • Job descriptions, advertisements, and interviews are ADA compliant and meet state requirements.
  • Review employment applications for compliance with any applicable state laws regarding prohibited questions or statements that should be included.
  • All interview questions are appropriate and relate directly to the position and the applicant’s ability to perform the job’s essential functions. Questions do not discriminate based on race, sex, religion, age, ethnic group, national origin, marital status, military service, disability or other protected status.
  • Written authorization is obtained for background checks and Fair Credit Reporting Act requirements are satisfied, along with any state requirements for conducting background checks.
  • Policies and procedures related to drug testing, use of arrest and conviction records, and other candidate-information requests comply with applicable federal and state law.
  • Evaluate all recruitment and hiring strategies, policies, and procedures to ensure compliance with federal and state nondiscrimination laws.
  • Job offer letters are reviewed by an HR specialist or employment law attorney and include a statement regarding employment at-will.
  • Forms I-9 are completed for all new employees within 3 business days from the first day of work for pay.
  • New hire reporting requirements are satisfied and necessary tax forms (Form W-4 and any required state forms) are collected from new employees.
  • Review your orientation/onboarding program for welcoming new employees and familiarizing them with the company’s basic management practices.

Employee Pay

  • Employees are properly classified as exempt or non-exempt based on their specific job duties and compensation. (Note: Job titles alone do not determine an employee’s exempt or non-exempt status.)
  • Review all pay practices, including minimum wage and overtime compensation, for compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and any state laws that are more favorable to employees.
  • Employee pay periods (weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly) are scheduled in accordance with state wage payment timing requirements.
  • Pay and incentive programs treat employees equitably, and decisions regarding promotions and merit raises are based on clear, objective criteria.
  • Independent contractor relationships are carefully reviewed to prevent misclassification.

Benefits

  • Employee benefit plans (medical and retirement) comply with all requirements under federal and state law, including new Health Care Reform notices and other requirements for group health plans.
  • Review all plan documents, including enrollment forms and employee communications, to ensure they are accurate, consistent, and in compliance with applicable law.
  • Summary plan descriptions (SPDs) and other benefit plan notices are distributed to employees as required under federal and state law.
  • All reporting and filing requirements related to medical and retirement benefits are satisfied.
  • Employees are provided required notices regarding continuation of health coverage under COBRA or state “mini-COBRA” laws (if your company is subject to those requirements), and all obligations with respect to continuation coverage are fulfilled.
  • Review policies and procedures relating to paid vacation, holiday and sick leave (including compliance with FMLA or similar state laws that may apply to your company) on a regular basis, along with other benefits offered such as flex-time and telecommuting.
  • Information regarding benefits is clearly communicated to employees, and policies and procedures related to benefits are applied fairly and consistently.

Employee Policies & Procedures

  • All company policies and procedures comply with federal and state labor laws related to employee leave, equal employment opportunity, sexual harassment, worker safety and other requirements.
  • Every employee is provided with a handbook explaining the company’s policies and procedures related to standards of conduct, nondiscrimination, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. (Be sure the employee signs a receipt acknowledging that he or she has reviewed the handbook.)
  • Labor law posters required to be displayed under federal and state law are posted where employees can easily see them.
  • Procedures are in place for maintaining employee records and files as required by law, including what information should be collected, confidentiality, and how long to keep records. Medical records and other confidential documents are kept in a separate file from the employee’s personnel file.
  • Employees receive necessary skills and regulatory training, including safety and sexual harassment.
  • Human resources policies and procedures apply equally to all employees, and are applied fairly and consistently throughout the company.

Performance Reviews

  • Performance reviews are conducted for all employees on a regular basis.
  • Job expectations and responsibilities are clearly communicated to employees, including the conduct and results required and the performance standards by which they will be measured.
  • Systems for measuring performance are in place (e.g., number of sales or customer satisfaction), based on specific job-related functions and criteria set forth in the employee’s job description.
  • Employee job descriptions are reviewed and updated at least annually.
  • Accurate documentation regarding performance is kept for each employee and documentation is direct, factual, and detail-oriented to support disciplinary or other personnel decisions.
  • Employee performance reviews are based upon specific, job-related criteria and feedback provided is honest, factual and complete.
  • Performance is compared against job descriptions and goals to offer ongoing feedback.
  • The review process and systems for measuring performance treat employees equitably.

Employee Discipline & Termination

  • All policies and procedures for handling employee disciplinary actions and investigations are clearly defined, written, and communicated to employees as appropriate.
  • All matters involving employee discipline warnings, investigations, and terminations are carefully and accurately documented, and related notices are reviewed on a regular basis.
  • Termination meetings are conducted to inform the employee of the termination, discuss the return of company property, deliver the final paycheck, and facilitate the employee’s departure. A summary of the meeting and any related information is prepared and placed in the employee’s personnel file.
  • Departing employees are provided with a written summary of accrued benefits and notices regarding post-termination benefits, including, where applicable, compensation for vacation and sick time, continuation of health coverage, severance pay and 401(k) plan information. Be sure to comply with any applicable federal or state requirements.
  • Policies are in place for collecting keys and other company property from the terminated employee and confirming that access to computer systems, email, and voicemail are deactivated.
  • Final paychecks are delivered at the time of termination or as otherwise required by state law.
  • Neutral references confirming a former employee’s position held and dates of employment are available upon request in accordance with company policy.
  • Review all discipline, investigation, and termination procedures for compliance with applicable federal and state laws and enforce them fairly and consistently.

Please note that the above list is not all-inclusive. If an HR assessment reveals violations that are not subsequently corrected, your company could be at risk for costly fines or lawsuits.  If you have any questions regarding your obligations under the law or about best practices when it comes to HR compliance, please consult with a knowledgeable employment law attorney for individualized guidance.

interviewer and interviewee shaking hands post-interview process

Connecticut Adopts Salary History Inquiry Ban

New Law Effective January 1, 2019

Effective January 1, 2019, a new law generally prohibits Connecticut employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s wage and salary history unless it is voluntarily disclosed. Notably, the law does not prohibit an employer from inquiring about other elements of a prospective employee’s compensation structure as long as such employer does not inquire about the value of the elements of such compensation structure.

Click here to read the law.

For more job application and interview compliance information, check out our Job Application & Interview Rules page for Connecticut.

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IRS Offers Tips To Help Businesses Prepare For Natural Disasters

Using Electronic Records and Documenting Valuables Encouraged

With hurricane season underway, the IRS is offering advice to those impacted by storms and other natural disasters. The following tips may help businesses prepare for such events:

  • Use electronic records. Businesses may have access to bank and other financial statements online. If so, their statements are already securely stored there. They can also keep an additional set of records electronically. One way is to scan tax records and insurance policies onto an electronic format. Businesses may want to download important records to an external hard drive, USB flash drive or burn them onto CDs or DVDs. Be sure to keep duplicates of records in a safe place. For example, store them in a waterproof container away from the originals. If a disaster strikes your business, it may also affect a wide area. If that happens, it may be impossible to retrieve the records that are stored in that area.
  • Document valuables. Take time and date stamped photos or videos of the contents of your business. These visual records can help prove the value of lost items. They may help with insurance claims or casualty loss deductions on a tax return. Businesses should also store these in a safe place.
  • Contact the IRS for help. Businesses that fall victim to a disaster may call the IRS disaster hotline at 866-562-5227 for special help with disaster-related tax issues.
  • Get copies of prior year tax records. If a business needs a copy of its tax return, it should file IRS Form 4506Request for Copy of Tax Return. The usual fee per copy is $50. However, the IRS is expected to waive this fee if a business is a victim of a federally declared disaster. For information that shows most line items from a tax return, call 1-800-908-9946 to request a free transcript. Alternatively, businesses may file IRS Form 4506T-EZShort Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript, or IRS Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.

The IRS offers many resources to help employers plan for and recover from disasters, including IRS Publication 584-BBusiness Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook, and webpages devoted to preparing for a disaster and tax relief in disaster situations.

Visit our section on Planning for Workplace Emergencies for strategies to protect your employees and business from natural disasters.

 

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Top 5 Forms for Summer Hires

Forms Every Employee Should Fill Out Day 1

An employee’s first day at a summer job can be very stressful for both the employee and employer. While trying to set up the employee with his or her parking pass, email account, and other necessities, employers should also remember that completing the following forms is just as important.

  1. Form I-9: Under federal law, employers are required to verify the identity and employment authorization of each person they hire by completing and retaining Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Newly hired employees must complete and sign Section 1 of Form I-9 no later than the first day of employmentClick here to download Form I-9.
  2. Federal Form W-4: An employee must complete federal Form W-4 in order for the employer to withhold the correct federal income tax from the employee’s pay. Click here to download federal Form W-4.
  3. State Form W-4: In states with a state income tax, an employee must complete a state Form W-4 (or its equivalent) in order for the employer to withhold the correct state income tax from the employee’s pay. To obtain a state Form W-4, contact your state’s taxation department.
  4. Basic Employment Information Sheet: Employers should keep certain basic information about each of their employees on file, including their address, phone number, and emergency contact. Click here to download a Basic Employment Information Sheet.
  5. Direct Deposit Authorization Form: It is now easier than ever for an employer to directly deposit an employee’s paycheck into his or her bank account. Such deposits, however, must be specifically authorized by the employee. Click here to download a Direct Deposit Authorization Form.

Check out our Recruitment & Hiring section for more great hiring tips.

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NYC Enacts New Sexual Harassment Training, Poster, and Information Sheet Requirements

Training Requirements Effective April 1, 2019

New York City has enacted new sexual harassment trainingposter, and notice requirements for employers. Starting April 1, 2019, employers with 15 or more employees will be required to annually conduct anti-sexual harassment interactive training for all employees, including supervisors and managers. In addition, starting September 6, 2018, all employers will be required to:

  • Post an anti-sexual harassment rights and responsibilities poster in employee break rooms or other common areas where employees gather; and
  • Distribute an information sheet on sexual harassment to employees at the time of hire and in the employee handbook.

The city is expected to release a model poster and information sheet soon.

Additional requirements applyClick here for more on the training requirement. Click here for more on the poster and information sheet requirements.

To review other laws specific to New York, visit the State Laws section, click on New York, and choose your topic of interest from the left-hand navigation menu.

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Vermont Adopts Salary History Inquiry Ban

New Law Effective July 1, 2018

Effective July 1, 2018, a new law prohibits Vermont employers from inquiring about or seeking an applicant’s salary history information­­, including information on his or her current or past wages, salary, bonuses, or benefits. The law also bans employers from relying on an applicant’s salary history information as a factor in determining whether to interview the applicant.

Notably, the law does not prohibit:

  • After making an offer of employment that includes compensation, confirming or requesting an applicant’s salary history information if the applicant previously disclosed the information voluntarily; or
  • Inquiring about an applicant’s salary expectations or requirements.

Click here to read the law.

For more job application and interview compliance information, check out our Job Application & Interview Rules page for Vermont.

curb piled with trash and damaged walls papers and wood from natural disaster storm

Keeping Business Records and Inventory Safe from Natural Disasters

Most businesses keep on-site records and files (both hardcopy and electronic) that are essential to normal operations. Some businesses also store raw materials and product inventory. The loss of essential records, files, and other materials during a disaster is commonplace and can not only add to your damage costs but also delay your return to normal operations. The longer your business is not operating, the more likely you are to lose customers permanently to your competitors.

Protecting Company Documents and Equipment

To reduce your vulnerability, determine which records, files, and materials are most important; consider their vulnerability to damage during different types of disasters (such as floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes) and take steps to protect them, including the following:

  • Raising computers above the flood level and moving them away from large windows;
  • Moving heavy and fragile objects to low shelves;
  • Storing vital documents (plans, legal papers, etc.) in a secure off-site location;
  • Regularly backing up vital electronic files (such as billing and payroll records and customer lists) and storing backup copies in a secure off-site location;
  • Securing equipment that could move or fall during an earthquake; and
  • Prior to hurricanes, covering or protecting vital documents and electrical equipment from potential wind-driven rain, which may breech the building envelope through windows, doors, or roof systems.

Additional Tips to Secure Your Business

  • Make sure you are aware of the details of your flood insurance and other hazard insurance policies, specifically which items and contents are covered and under what conditions. Check with your insurance agent if you have questions about any of your policies.
  • When you identify equipment susceptible to damage, consider the location of the equipment. For example, equipment near a hot water tank or pipes could be damaged if the pipes burst during an earthquake, and equipment near large windows could be damaged during hurricanes.
  • Assign disaster mitigation duties to your employees. For example, some employees could be responsible for securing storage bins and others for backing up computer files and delivering copies to a secure location.
  • You may want to consider having other offices of your company or a third-party service provider perform some administrative duties, such as maintaining payroll records or providing customer service.
  • Estimate the cost of repairing or replacing each essential piece of equipment in your business. Your estimates will help you assess your vulnerability and focus your efforts.
  • For both insurance and tax purposes, you should maintain written and photographic inventories of all important materials and equipment. The inventory should be stored in a safety deposit box or other secure location.
  • Periodically evaluate the building envelope to make sure that wind and water are not able to penetrate the building. Do regular maintenance and repairs to maintain the strength of the building envelope.

 

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Deadline to File Paper Returns With IRS was February 28

Employers subject to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) information reporting requirements are reminded that the deadline to electronically file ACA information returns with the IRS is April 2.

The reporting deadlines in 2018 are for the 2017 calendar year, and are as follows:

  • Applicable large employers (ALEs)—generally those with 50 or more full-time employees, including full-time equivalents—must electronically file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C with the IRS no later than April 2. The deadline to file paper returns was February 28.
  • Self-insuring employers that are not considered ALEs, and other parties that provide minimum essential health coverage, must electronically file Forms 1094-B and 1095-B with the IRS no later than April 2. The deadline to file paper returns was February 28.

Note: Employers filing 250 or more Forms 1095-B or 1095-C are required to electronically file them with the IRS.

Additional information on electronic filing can be found on the IRS’s ACA Information Returns (AIR) Program webpage.

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Current Requirements Continue to Apply Until Proposal is Finalized

Federal agencies recently proposed to amend the definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance so that it may offer a maximum coverage period of less than 12 months after the original effective date of the contract, rather than the current maximum period of less than 3 months. The proposal would also revise the required issuer notice that must be displayed in the contract and any application materials.

Proposal Applicability Date

While the current definition applies to policy years beginning on or after January 1, 2017, a non-enforcement policy applies to policies sold before April 1, 2017, and that end on or before December 31, 2017. The current definition and non-enforcement policy would continue to apply unless and until the proposal is finalized. If finalized, the proposal would apply to insurance policies sold on or after the 60th day following publication of the final rule. Policies sold on or after this date would have to meet the definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance in the final rule in order to be considered such insurance.

Background

Under the Affordable Care Act, short-term, limited-duration insurance is exempt from certain market reforms. The allowable duration of such insurance is currently limited to less than 3 months after the original effective date of the contract. In addition, this insurance is not considered minimum essential coverage, which is necessary for an individual to satisfy the individual mandate unless an exemption applies.

Click here to read the proposal in its entirety. A fact sheet is also available.

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