The new year is a perfect time to do some housekeeping and make sure your employment policies and procedures are up-to-date. For our clients, we recommend the following New Year’s resolutions for 2018:
1. Respect in the Workplace Training
The end of 2017 saw a sea change in the world of sexual harassment. While companies have always been responsible for setting the right tone and avoiding discriminatory and hostile environments, there has never been more attention on workplace sexual harassment. We strongly encourage our clients to consider Respect in the Workplace training for two groups of employees: (1) managers, who set the tone for the company and must respond properly to any complaints of harassment (and must avoid being the perpetrators of harassment themselves), and (2) junior employees who may have questions in today’s environment about what constitutes harassment and acceptable behavior, or what to do if they are being harassed.
2. Equal Pay Act Audit
We recommend that our clients conduct an internal audit of their pay practices before the new Massachusetts Equal Pay Act takes effect on July 1, 2018. This audit will give companies time to preemptively remedy any gender-based wage disparities before the new law takes effect. Additionally, the new law gives employers an affirmative defense against future claims of gender-based wage discrimination if they have conducted such an audit in the past three years. For more information on internal audits and what they should cover, please see http://law.marshallhalem.com/auditing-pay-practices-preparation-massachusetts-pay-equity-law-revised-eeo-1-form-july-2017/
3. Update Handbooks
Handbook requirements change over time as companies grow and the law changes. If you have not updated your handbook since 2015, or if your company has experienced significant growth since your last handbook update, we recommend that you review and update your handbook for 2018.
4. Revisit Non-Competes
Along with handbooks, your non-competes may have grown stale. Under Massachusetts law, if an employee has changed jobs – including growing into a more senior role or transitioning to different responsibilities – his or her non-compete may no longer be valid. Many companies are met with an unpleasant surprise when an employee leaves and they discover that their non-competes are no longer enforceable. We recommend that our clients review their existing non-competes to make sure they are all currently enforceable. If you find that your non-competes may no longer be valid, please let us know and we can help you tailor new non-competes for the affected employees.
5. Update Job Applications
Under the Massachusetts Equal Pay Act, employers can no longer ask candidates for their salary history. We recommend that our clients either replace any salary history questions on their job applications with prompts for “desired salary,” or state the targeted salary upfront in the job posting. Be sure to remind any interviewers not to ask salary history questions during interviews as well.
As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need assistance. Our attorneys are available to assist you in achieving any of these New Year’s resolutions.