Multi-State Employee Handbook Compliance for Remote Employees

If you are a small business owner with remote workers across multiple states, you have new HR compliance challenges. One is making sure your Employee Handbook is compliant to the state laws your workers are located. Avoid risking expensive penalties with ongoing Employee Handbook Compliance.

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Remote and On-Site Employees in Multiple States Means Risking Employee Handbook Compliance

Remote positions and virtual communication tools make it easy to work and run your business from multiple states. With the influx of post-covid-19 remote solutions, we continue to see new remote positions crop up. For example, you could be based out of New York but have employees in California, Colorado, Mississippi, and Arizona.

As a small business owner, conducting business across state lines creates new compliance challenges. Although you may not knowingly be going against the law, not properly handling the setup of your business in another state when it’s legally required could leave you with expensive penalties or leave you unprotected by state laws.

Why Generic Employee Handbooks are Risky

Many handbooks follow templates downloaded from the internet. Most “form” handbooks you get from the Internet focus on federal law requirements, which is important, but you must not forget about state and local laws, which may affect the wording of policies on topics ranging from weapons in the workplace, to drug testing, jury duty, parental leave—and much more. To maintain compliance, you may need to have separate versions of your handbook or at least state-specific addendums.

Generic Templates Aren’t Customized

Though a generic handbook may be a good start for some, and may have common elements, there many areas that must be more specific to keep you and your business compliant. Customized areas to consider when you’re determining specifics to include in your handbook are:

  • How many employees you have
  • Whether you’re a government contractor, public employer, or private-sector employer
  • Whether you have a unionized workforce

Industry-Specific Issues Aren’t Covered

Your particular industry may have workplace issues that don’t arise or aren’t relevant in other industries. For example:

  • Manufacturers may want to address certain safety issues
  • Banks may want to include cash-handling protocols
  • Hospitals may want to address vaccination requirements for employees
  • Professional groups may want to address licensure requirements

In addition, your discretionary benefits and attendance policies should be tailored to reflect the practices that make sense for your workplace. You may also have an insurance policy that requires certain information to be in your handbook.

State-Specific Issues Aren’t Included

Many employers are not aware that when they draft their employee handbook there are many policies that need to be different based upon the state in which the employer is operating. This can be a real nightmare for HR.

Policies that Change Across State Lines

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The first is, of course, FMLA. Many, although not all, states have their own FMLA laws that sometimes require more leave than what is required under the federal FMLA.

For example, Connecticut requires that employers provide eligible employees with 16 work weeks of leave in any 24-month period.

New Jersey requires that employers provide 12 weeks of leave in a 24 month period but it is only for the serious health condition of a parent, child or spouse or the birth or placement for adoption or foster care of a child. There is no New Jersey FMLA for your own serious health condition. Moreover, this New Jersey family leave law applies to employers with 50 employees anywhere in the country as long as one of the employees is employed in New Jersey.

Jury Duty Leave

Another policy that will have local implications is your jury duty leave policy. Some states such as New York require that the employee be paid $40 for the first three days of leave. Massachusetts requires that for employees that were scheduled to work for three months preceding the jury duty leave, that they be paid their regular wages for the first three days of jury duty leave.

Access to Personnel Files

Another area that is dictated by local state practice would be access to personnel records. Different states have different laws about whether employees have the right to see or copy their personnel file.

Vacation and Wage Deductions

Vacation and wage deductions is another big area of concern. Many times employers allow employees to borrow PTO or vacation time when they have not yet accrued such time. Then if the employee is terminated prior to accruing the time, the employer requires that the employee pay back the time and sets forth that this will be done by deducting the amount from the employee’s last pay check. This is unlawful in many states.

Short-Term Disability Benefits

In addition, some states such as New York require that employers provide short-term disability benefits.

State-by-State Policies Change Quickly

States also have a variety of other laws that employers need to be aware of. As events and policies change, things become tricky, leaving your business vulnerable. In the case of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many issues, such as PTO, have created new policies.

These laws can change and/or become law quickly so it is important for you to be aware of new laws in each of the states in which you, as a multi-state employer, operate

Employee Handbook Monitoring Programs Protect Your Business Across State Lines

An easy way to ensure compliance with employees in multiple states is to have your employee handbooks professionally reviewed and updated by human resources experts such as MyHRConcierge. 

MyHRConcierge specializes in creating and maintaining employee handbooks that are compliant for multiple states. Our Handbook Monitoring Program includes:

  • Review of 50 state labor law additions/additions to determine if any will affect employer policies for those operating in those respective states.
  • Monthly, automatic updates to ensure your business is compliant with changing Federal and State regulations including COVID-19 pandemic-created laws and regulations, discrimination policies, and more.

As litigation increases, automatic updates can save your business from big risks.

Enroll in Employee Handbook Monitoring with MyHRConcierge

To learn more about our services for employee handbook review, employee handbook writing, and monthly ongoing compliance, contact MyHRConcierge for a free consultation. Call Chris Cooley at 1-855-538-6947 ext.108 or email ccooley@myhrconcierge.com.