Labor laws are an ever-changing lot. Just when you think you have your finger on the pulse of the latest regulations and their impact on your business, the federal government starts tinkering with something new.
And let’s not forget state and local changes! They seem to come at you fast and furious, too, so it’s critical to stay on top of the latest and greatest to ensure your business is compliant.
One area to keep a close eye on is the job application process. If you’re not in sync with the latest regulations and disclosures, you could make your business vulnerable to legal consequences.
For example, more than 30 states and 150 cities and counties currently have “Ban the Box“ laws, which prevent employers from asking applicants if they have a criminal record. The list of participants is growing, so if your state or city doesn’t currently ban the box, it may in the near future.
The goal of Ban the Box is to provide all applicants a fair chance by removing the conviction history question on the job application and delaying the background check inquiry until later in the hiring process.
The latest labor law trend gaining popularity is a ban on salary history questions for applications. Already enacted in four states and several cities, the law is designed to prevent employers from using past compensation as a basis for current salary and benefits negotiations with job applicants. It is meant to foster greater pay equality between men and women.
Being diligent and selective about potential employees makes for better hires. One way to do that is with a background check. But it’’s important to know that laws around running credit reports on applicants vary from state to state. But in general, before you can request a credit report, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires you to get the applicant’s consent. In addition, you must give notice — along with a copy of the report — to the applicant if you decide to reject him or her based on the findings. But before you run a check on an applicant, you must make sure your state allows it.
Many employers also ask potential employees if they would be willing to sign a non-compete form. But again, laws vary from state to state. Many states have laws around the enforceability of these agreements. Other states only allow non-competes for certain professions.
If you’re the only one responsible for hiring, the compliance responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders. And if you’re aware of all labor law changes, great! You should have nothing to worry about. However, if — and it’s a mighty big if — other employees oversee the hiring process, you must change the hiring culture to avoid potential pitfalls.
Here are a few steps to consider whenever labor law amendments impact your hiring process:
The last thing you need is for a prospective employee to call you out on a labor law infraction. The legal consequences could be severe if you’re not compliant, so it’s best to be over ‐ vs. underprepared.
As a small business owner, you wear many hats. The “Staying on Top of Labor Laws” hat is one of the more challenging ones because you just don’t have enough time in the day to be a legal eagle and run your business.
Here’s some good news: You can take off the legal eagle hat right now, because there’s a solution that handles the heavy lifting for you. The Job Application Smart App helps you recruit and screen candidates, and ensure legal compliance in the process. Even better news: The app is compliant with federal and state laws, and it’s automatically updated whenever laws change. All questions on the application are attorney-approved, and you have the option to customize or add additional questions to fit your business needs.