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HR issues & Compliance: Do you Manage your Own Risk Exposures?

I've been attending several HR preseentations done by either Law Firms and/or HR Consulting Firms.  The breadth of exposure for companies is mind boggling (especially in New York State compared to just the Federal regulations).

How many of you actually handle HR or do you engage (either on staff or consulants) Employment Lawyers or HR proffesionals (and are they certified?)?



Topic Expert
Brenda Morris
Title: Board of Directors, Audit Committee Chai..
Company: Boot Barn
(Board of Directors, Audit Committee Chair, Boot Barn) |

California is truly the worst! The issues are long and tedious! We are multi-state so have to keep a separate handbook for each state. We do have HR in house, but we make it a priority to keep a great employment attorney engaged with us and meet with her and her team quarterly to discuss any business changes that might affect our HR policies or hot topics that are in play. She then keeps us abreast of anything in the interim period we should have on our radar. This way it is a consistent approach and nothing falls through the cracks. If something truly legal comes up we can roll her on quickly (and I do have in-house counsel) to assist us. I'd also say that once you select someone have them review your current Employee Handbook, HR Policies and Practices to make sure you don't have any land mines. This can be relatively inexpensive especially compared to an expensive, lengthy litigation! Good luck!

Topic Expert
Randy Miller
Title: Partner
Company: CFO Edge
(Partner, CFO Edge) |

I agree with Brenda. I use a combination of in-house with an outside employment attorney, and require HR to be part of SHRM or a similar organization to keep up to date.

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Director of Global Accounting
Company: Agrinos, Inc.
(Director of Global Accounting, Agrinos, Inc.) |

Similar to the above; We don't circle with the attorney as is an annual process for us.

Some trigger points I've run into for calling in outside help include:
-We actually work with a series of vendors, not just the attorney. For example, if you're a government contractor you need to jump through some pretty bizarre hoops. There are people who specialize in providing you with pre-written manuals in the required formats. Frankly, these are largely useless, redundant, and get filed away for audit purposes. don't want to hit an M&A transaction or contractor audit and not have them. The fees for getting these docs usually run ~$300 or so per.
-Watch yourself if you're switching from TriNet or other PEOs to self-managed payroll like ADP. A benefit of PEOs is that they do all of this nonsense for you; the drawback is that when they are gone, you might not notice that you don't have an employee handbook, etc. That is an important time to get the checklist from your attorney.
-We're currently too small to have a dedicated HR resource; this means that policies fall to yours truly, with implementation by my team. Depending on your structure this can (and needs to) scale up to a pretty reasonably sized company. I find gets unmanageable around 100ish employees, at which point a dedicated, trained resource is efficient, and likely critical in having the bandwidth to manage multi-jurisdictional issues.
-Be especially cautious when crossing state boundaries. The differences between NY and CA are annoying (and real); once you hit non-US jurisdictions you realize just how company-friendly CA is compared to, say, France or Japan. We always retain local counsel in these circumstances. Potholes you may hit include IP ownership / assignment; overtime regulations; at-will employment; taxability of income...pretty much every clause in a normal employment agreement.

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