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Labor Law 101: Complying with Workplace Labor Law Poster Requirements

State and federal laws impose numerous requirements and prohibitions on American businesses, but one of the most overlooked obligations for employers is the responsibility to conspicuously display various government labor law posters in the workplace.  The purpose of these labor law posters is to inform employees of their rights under applicable laws and provide information on how to report discrimination, wage and hour violations and other rights infringements to the government. 
 
While many employers do not readily embrace the idea of conspicuously posting information that tells their employees how to bring legal action against them, the obligation to display these notices is explicit in various labor laws and government regulations.  The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), for example, includes a provision requiring all covered employers to display the federal minimum wage poster in an area frequented by employees.  OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations specifically require employers to post a federal safety and health poster or a state equivalent.  Failure to comply with government labor law posting requirements could lead to citations and fines during an inspection. Fines vary by poster and by enforcing agency, ranging from as low as $110 up to a potential maximum of $10,000.  In total, businesses that don’t post these required notices or post outdated information could face combined fines up to $17,000 per location. 

 As a businessperson, you’re probably well aware of the numerous bureaucratic requirements imposed on your business by various enforcing agencies, such as consumer protection laws, record-keeping and financial reporting requirements, and other laws regulating your service or industry. Worrying about labor law poster requirements is a low priority at most businesses.  So how do you ensure worry-free compliance with these mandatory posting requirements to safeguard your business from possible fines?

Cover All Bases

The list of posters your company may be required to display could be lengthy depending on what state you conduct business in and how many employees you have.  Unfortunately, researching exactly what to post and where to obtain them can be a frustrating, time-consuming process.  While the Internet is a great tool for conducting this research, be leery of what you find even on government sites, as many agencies clearly explain what they specifically require to be posted but fail to mention that other notices from other agencies are also required. 

One sure way to find out exactly what needs to be displayed is to contact one of the many private companies such as Personnel Concepts that specialize in labor law compliance.   Most of these firms have done the research for you and have compiled all required notices into an all-on-one reproduction, which is sufficient to ensure compliance.  While these companies charge $30 or more for these posters, many businesses are willing to pay to avoid the time-consuming research needed to obtain the notices themselves. 

Post Conspicuously

Posting the required information in a back room that employees never enter is not enough to ensure compliance.  Government regulations specifically require that the information be displayed in an area frequented by employees during the normal course of the workday.  For many companies, that means posting the mandatory notices next to employee time clocks or in lunch areas. 

Additionally, some posters must also be displayed in lobbies or applicant areas, as they describe laws that protect job applicants from unlawful discrimination or harassment.  One example is the federal “Equal Employment Opportunity Is the Law” Notice, published by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). 

Stay Current

Many employers already have labor law posters conspicuously displayed, but they may be grossly out of date.  These posters are revised frequently by enforcing agencies to reflect law changes, minimum wage increases, court decisions, and new procedural requirements.  The government has no obligation to notify business owners when a mandatory poster is revised, and employers have to take action to stay current. In many cases, having an outdated poster is equivalent to not having anything posted at all. 

To keep your labor law information current, you must frequently check government Web sites or contact the agencies directly to inquire about updates.  Since this can be a time-consuming process, many employers choose to pay a nominal fee to a private company (such as Personnel Concepts) to provide them with posting materials and notify them of updates when revisions occur.

Protect Notices from Alteration, Defacement or Theft

Simply posting the notices on your wall isn’t enough to safeguard your business. Some posting regulations (most notably, OSHA’s posting requirement) specifically require that the posters be protected so they cannot be altered, stolen, or defaced.  Having the posters laminated by a third party or displaying them in a case or glass enclosure are common ways to avoid having posters removed or written on by employees and visitors.

Ensuring compliance with labor law posting regulations is a critical component to establishing a safe, legal, and fair workplace.   While these posters often become an afterthought to busy employers, they represent a first line of defense against lawsuits and government fines.  By obtaining and conspicuously posting all required notices, keeping them current, and protecting them from damage or theft, you can maintain legal compliance and ensure that your employees are informed about their workplace rights.

About the author:
Robert Leland III is a Research Director at Personnel Concepts, the nation’s leading provider of workplace compliance posters, including compilations of required labor law notices.  He can be reached via email at rleland@personnelconcepts.com or on the Web at www.personnelconcepts.com.


Note: The details in this white paper are provided for informational purposes solely. All answers are general in nature, not legal advice and not warranted or guaranteed. Readers are cautioned not to rely on this information. Because laws change over time and in different jurisdictions, it is imperative that you consult an attorney in your area regarding legal matters and an accountant regarding tax matters.

 

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