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HR’s Guide to Workers’ Comp

Workers' comp has been a workplace staple for a long time, but it can confound even the most seasoned employers and HR professionals.

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Supervisor Training and Employment Law

Supervisor training is viewed by many employers as an expendable expense and a waste of money. Human resources professionals know, though, that training for new supervisors and experienced supervisors is essential because well-trained supervisors will lower an employer’s chances of being caught in a lawsuit.

Basic Training for Supervisors, easy-to-read guides on employment law for supervisors

There also is a direct correlation between well-trained supervisors and employees who are motivated, engaged, and productive.

Supervisors and managers should be trained on a number of legal issues, including: harassment; discrimination; military service and leave; retaliation; safety; wage and hour issues; and  employee privacy.

Supervisor training should include a general overview of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). It’s also a good idea give supervisors some basic training on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as the FMLA is one of the few federal laws under which supervisors can be held liable in an employment lawsuit.

With the proper training, supervisors will become familiar with those laws and the general principles essential to maintaining a workplace free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. One note: If an employee proves in court that a supervisor or manager did discriminate, harass, or retaliate against him, an employer can protect itself by showing that it provided that supervisor with the proper training so that he knew his actions were in direct violation of company policy. New supervisor training is critical but with changes in employment law and court decisions, it’s imperative for supervisors to be trained regularly to keep up with employment laws and regulations.

Documentation and performance evaluations: Essential training for supervisors
Employers should teach supervisors and managers about proper documentation of employee misconduct and performance problems. Documentation is important for employers to be able to make good business decisions and can be persuasive evidence if an employee sues the company.

If supervisors and managers aren’t trained to evaluate employees carefully and accurately, the performance evaluations and reviews they give employees can make a discrimination or wrongful discharge case even more difficult to defend. On the other hand, if supervisors are trained properly and follow through with what they have learned, the performance evaluations and reviews they give employees can be most valuable, not only in defending a lawsuit, but in maintaining employee efficiency as well.

Frontline Supervision: monthly alert that keeps supervisors up to date on the latest and most dangerous employment issues

Supervisors are often the first line of defense in dealing with unions and union organizing
Another important area for an supervisor training in is union avoidance and union organizing. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) regulates what employers, supervisors, and managers can and can’t say to employees during a union organizing campaign. If a supervisor makes a misstep is this area, the employer will be bound by that supervisor’s conduct even if upper management had nothing to do with it. Employers should watch and keep supervisors updated on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), a proposed federal law that seeks to amend the NLRA by making changes to the current process for employees to elect labor union representation.

First Line of Defense: Employment Law Training for Supervisors on 12 areas of employment law

Handbooks and policies
Finally, supervisors and managers should be trained on the content of their employers’ employee handbook. Supervisors and managers are the ones who will be enforcing the rules and polices, such as dress codes, contained in the handbook and most likely will be the ones who employees come to with questions and who must enforce the policies.