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HR audits: If you do them, the government might not

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People protect their skin by applying sunscreen before heading out in the bright sunlight. Similarly, HR audits can act as a protectant from potential legal issues. Such audits may not provide 100 percent protection, but they can provide a great deal of it. Most employers would rather go through an internal audit than one performed by a government agency.

HR audits involve a review of your policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that they are not only compliant, but also effective. They can also identify whether or not the applicable strategies are competitive.

Employment laws
Since the variety of employment and labor laws can be overwhelming, an audit can help categorize the requirements and make them more manageable. They can help identify gaps in policies, practices, and processes that can then be prioritized and addressed.

An audit may also help clarify which laws apply to your organization, since not all laws apply to all employers. If, for example, you are a private employer with fewer than 50 employees, you don’t need to worry about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you don’t have a group health plan, you won’t need to be concerned about HIPAA privacy provisions.

Results
The result of an audit may reveal, for example, that your company has a policy providing FMLA leave when you are not even covered by the law. This is not only ineffective, it can be problematic.

Courts have ruled that if employers represent that employees have protections such as those provided by the FMLA, employers generally need to provide them. Such a policy can inadvertently make you covered by the law.

Maybe your department has never been audited (by inside or outside sources), or maybe it’s been a while since an audit’s been done. There is no specified timeline for performing an audit, but laws do change, as do organizations. Some employers perform such audits every few years or when things have changed to the point where no one is sure if the department’s practices, policies, and processes are still in compliance. If your organization has been following the same practices for so long that you cannot remember who created them, it may be time for a self-audit.

Once an audit is done, it can serve as a baseline and template for future audits. It may not be as exciting as the latest popular novel, but the information from the audit should help you keep your company out of a government agency’s cross hairs, and perhaps out of an expensive court case.

Source: J.J. Keller