Importance of legal knowledge in the HR department

Human resource department has gotten more and more important as time progresses. It used to be a simple “hire and fire” type of a deal. But today, it also focuses on various other aspects of employee engagement. Often at times, the human resource department is misunderstood by most companies. It is the lifeblood of any organization as it ensures that we get the most out of an employee. Investing in people is serious business and as with any investment, we expect a return. Professionals in this field do not specialize in the law regarding the occupation. Never the less, they are expected to be versed in that area. Many functions in human resources are governed by the law. Some of them include but are not limited to: employee relations, recruitment, compensation, health and safety, benefits, etc. Any HR professional worth its salt will look at all situations through an employment law lens. In this article, we will go over the key point on the importance of understanding employment law. This term is essential for an effective HR department that is focused on retaining dedicated and engaged employees.

 1. Managing risk

By simply not complying with employment laws we are running into significant risks. Financial being only one of them. It is of great importance for HR professionals to take measures for preventing legal liabilities. This means auditing our HR policies, practices, employment agreements, tools, etc. in regular intervals. These and many more need to be in compliance with our company’s values, beliefs, and lest we forget, the law as well.

 2. Health, safety, and wellbeing in the workplace

HR should be educated on human rights issues and local health and safety regulations. Compliance issues usually arise because the employers are not meeting basic requirements when it comes to creating a safe and healthy environment. These regulations include workplace discrimination, accommodations for disabilities and harassment, and much more. Some jurisdictions also have local laws on top of everything.

 3. Education and training

One more job that the human resources department is in charge of is providing training to employees, in line with company policies and guidelines. Standards should be always be upheld by employees through role models and responsibility. Naturally, greater responsibilities fall upon those in higher, managerial positions within our organization. So, training is different for various vertical hierarchical planes within the organization. Education should be conducted in such a way that employees are trained and aware in accordance with expected behaviors. Also, it is very important to constantly update our belief system and with it our employee handbook. This would surely indicate that periodically, we would need to offer retraining to all employees on the key, burning issues.

 4. Trustworthiness and ethics

Having a strong sense of ethics is key for any human resource department. An active role should be assumed in eliminating bias and providing equality of opportunity in the workplace. Ultimately, employment law governs all of the HR management. Successful companies must be very well informed on this subject to ensure the organization is operating in full compliance with these laws. Regular assessments of our organization on the standing with HR compliance spectrums are a good idea. This way we would always have good insight on where we are standing.

 5. Paperwork

Another critical area that HR is in charge of is the employee’s database with all the information a company needs. In these lie personal and confidential information. Contracts, job responsibilities, discipline records and performance assessments. These and many more, are being looked after by the human resource department. These sensitive records are confidential by law and should be stored in accordance with it to avoid any data leak.

 6. Public relations

Building a positive relationship with the public is a key part of distinguishing ourselves from the others. This is, again, where the human resources department plays an active role. Arranging business meetings, seminars, and other forms of official gatherings are just some of the tasks they take upon themselves. There are still limitations and paths imposed by the local legislation. These should always be taken into account when making any strives towards business and targeted market advancements.

 7. Social media

Another point of increasing concern for companies is how their employees use social media, in or outside of the office. Another form of education comes in the shape of establishing a clear and consistent standard for interacting on social media. After all, our employees represent our company. On the other hand, employers should be careful to not infringe upon their employee’s rights and privacy. Also, the activity of discussing topics such as working conditions or wages is legally protected and is not to be infringed upon. Therefore, we as employers should be careful when thinking about drafting and enforcing social media policies. There are a lot of intricacies and details here, that require professional help if one has the need for it. There are plenty of companies that are willing to offer such help, like Chedid Storey Legal. Such organizations will make sure that everything is according to the book.

 8. Equal pay

All employees, no matter their personal traits like gender, ethnicity, etc. must be paid equally for the same amount of work. Failure to make this happen can result in an individual suing under federal law and recover the pay and with penalties. Not only that, but the organization’s reputation can seriously be tarnished.

It can be challenging and often varies from place to place, jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Businesses still must carefully monitor the law and the environment to stay informed on these topics. The organization’s human resources department is responsible for creating, implementing and overseeing these policies. Their role in a company affects all aspects of doing business as they support the company’s most valuable resource - employees. We can deduce that human resources compliance is essential for any organization to be successful in today’s legal environment. Achieving and maintaining it can be tricky and requires a great degree of knowledge. The sooner we start building our knowledge portfolio, the sooner we can establish a solid human resources team.

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