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Compliance Goes Beyond Posters: Know the Hidden Hazards of Employee Handouts

You probably know that open enrollment is a time when employees are responsible for signing up for health insurance or changing their plan selections. But did you know that it’s also when employers are required to distribute certain mandatory notifications to workers? It’s true. Not knowing when federal handouts and state and local handouts are required is one common danger that can trip up employers. Here we review other common handout hazards that can lead to noncompliance and significant legal consequences.

HAZARD: Not knowing they are mandatory

Employers must distribute certain federal handouts as well as state and local handouts directly to employees. These notifications are typically issued by government agencies, and they inform employees of their rights and responsibilities under various workplace laws.

These notices cover a range of topics including benefits, medical leave, workers’ compensation, sexual harassment, pregnancy and unemployment compensation. Employer responsibilities depend on applicable federal, state, county and city laws.

HAZARD: Not recognizing qualifying events

The triggers for providing these handouts to employees vary widely. Depending on the underlying law, certain notices may be required for all employees — either annually or on some other cycle mandated by law. Others are event-driven, which means you must distribute them when a specific activity occurs. For example, notices may be required:

  • When a new employee is hired
  • When an employee requests time off for a protected absence
  • When a workplace injury takes place
  • When an employee becomes pregnant
  • When the employer makes a change in pay
  • Upon an employee’s separation from the company
  • Upon request by the employee

As mentioned previously, open enrollment is another time when handouts are required. These include certain Affordable Care Act and COBRA notices, among others.

HAZARD: Not understanding the risks

The penalties for noncompliance can be severe. Federal penalties alone can add up to more than $20,000 per violation, just for failing to provide required notices or using outdated notices.

While fines can be costly, the bigger danger is the risk of employee lawsuits. Under some laws, you can lose certain defenses if you fail to notify your employees of their rights. The statute of limitations, for example, limits the timeframe during which an employee can sue an employer for a particular offense. In recent years, courts have increasingly extended the statute of limitations in cases where an employer did not give proper notice of employee rights. This can also lead to larger judgments just because notices were not distributed at the right times.

HAZARD: Not keeping up with the changes

Like labor law posters, these notifications change frequently. Employers are rarely if ever notified of these changes, putting the burden entirely on them to research and monitor changing requirements.

Poster Guard’s Mandatory Employee Handout Service makes it easy to comply with these complex requirements. You’ll get immediate access to all employee notifications required by federal, state, county and city laws. The notices are always up-to-date and can be downloaded, printed and distributed in minutes.

Numerous federal, state, county and city employment laws require employers to distribute written notifications directly to employees based on triggering events such as open enrollment, hiring, leave requests, workplace injuries and termination.

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