Although maintaining HR compliance can take a lot of time and money, it is certainly worth the effort. Non-compliant businesses are at risk of major penalties, fees and litigation. The steps to mitigate these risks and ensure HR compliance are as follows:
Create clear policies and procedures
Every firm should establish a clear set of policies and procedures for all employees. These should be written in accordance with Irish employment law and should accommodate your business’s specific needs. They should explicitly outline expectation of code of practice and standards of the business. These policies can be updated as EU and Irish legislation and regulations change.
Train your employees on HR compliance
The implementation of policies and procedures is not enough; open communication, engagement and training should be facilitated to ensure full compliance. Employee training can be conducted online or in person and it can be facilitated by your internal HR team or an external party.
As part of induction, employee’s onboarding should include trainings on policies such as bullying and harassment, dignity and work and equal opportunities. These trainings should be followed with refresher courses every few years to mitigate the risk of future claims and demonstrates the commitment of your company to keeping your workplace free of unfair treatment.
Thoroughly investigate grievances and disciplinaries
When an employee makes a complaint, it’s important the company investigates it, whether written or oral and even those that are anonymous through social media. It is imperative that all types of complaints are dealt with without delay so as to avoid them festering to become a larger issue. A standard procedure for investigations should be devised to include the company’s precedence and a relevant policy which both parties have agreed to.
An investigation meeting could consist of either the complainant or accused employee, along with the representative if they so wished, a manager who is chairing or investigating and a note taker who may be a HR professional or another manager. All witnesses can listen to the minutes at the end of the meeting which can minimise conflict on what was discussed.
The outcome manager (should be different to the investigations manager) should make their best effort in dealing with disciplinaries or resolving all complaints as soon as they can. Employees should then be followed up with on the outcome of the disciplinary or grievance.
Enforce disciplinary actions fairly
Once an investigation is complete and you’ve determined that an employee has violated one of your policies, take the appropriate remedial action as outlined in your employee policy/procedure.
Such actions could include disciplining or terminating the accused. The sanction should be reasonable and fair and the company should consider the implications of implementing a harsh sanction if they did not adequately train the employee. (eg if an employee breached a company policy, does the company have proof that the employee had been trained/retrained on such policy).
Fair and equal treatment of all employees is an essential element of HR compliance. No employee should get special treatment or be “let off the hook” due to their position or otherwise. This is key to ensuring your company doesn’t face Employment Equality litigation.
Always keep proper documentation
During an investigation, it is essential that management keep comprehensive documentation of the situation and retain it in line with GDPR retention rules. Accurate and up-to-date HR compliance documentation will be helpful during a company audit but also if the company is facing litigation.