Practicing HR Regulations
Like any area of business, there are rules and regulations you need to follow as a part of Human Resources. These regulations will impact hiring practices, as well as influence the way benefits and compensation need to be administered to a group.
Also like any other area of business, these HR rules and regulations will vary, depending on the area in which the company operates. This section will discuss the current practices (as of 2014) in the United States, but because many states can have additional regulations and rules, as can companies, it's best to review the most current regulations before applying them.
Within the practice of HR, there are laws that have been put into place to protect the employees, as well as the integrity of the workplace. Since these are legal statutes, it means that not only is the employee protected, but the company is, as well. By ensuring a safe and fair workplace, everyone benefits.
EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity)
In order to get hired, an employee will need to submit an application or a resume to the hiring department. Ideally, the employees would be assessed based on their skill level and the talents they can bring to a particular role.
But HR employees are human, and are subject to their own biases. Even though they may not be aware of it, they might make interview decisions based on other factors the applicant presents.
In order to ensure employees are hired based only on their talents and experience, the EEO regulation was put into place. This means employees can not be judged as hireable or not, based on:
- Race, ethnicity, color
- Individuals with disabilities
- Military experience
In order to ensure judgments don't happen, hiring managers are supposed ignore these factors during the hiring and interviewing process. If an employee is able to prove that he or she was hired (or not) based on one of these traits, they can pursue action through the legal system.
EEO also applies to employees who are trying to get into higher roles within their company. For those who feel they were not chosen for a position because they are women, for example, those employees can pursue legal action.
At the same time, the HR department needs to base compensation and benefits outside of these characteristics. Thus, a woman and a man in the same role at a company would need to be paid the same, with some differences based on skills, time at the company, etc. But if all other factors are the same, the employees should be paid the same compensation.
It's also good to point out that EEO helps protect the integrity of the company. When a company is seen as having and following fair hiring practices, they are a place where talent will want to go.
One of the things you may have heard about interviews is that a hiring manager or interviewer can not ask about certain parts of the applicant's life, as this might give reason for discriminatory hiring practices.
Even though the questions might seem innocuous, they can also give a hiring manager information that might create a bias.
For example, a hiring manager can not ask:
- Do you have a family? – Some companies may not want to hire people with families as it can cost more in terms of benefits, and it might mean the person could be away to deal with family issues more often.
- Are you pregnant or do you want to become pregnant – Similar to the question about families, a woman should still be hired based on her skills and not on the time line of having a family.
- What's your religion – Since hiring managers and companies may have different religious views in relations to applicants, they should not ask about one's belief system.
- What is your sexual preference? – Again, the sexual orientation of a person is something that does not impact the ability of the worker, so it's not a question that needs to be asked.
Other questions that can lead to discrimination are about age, other work experience, and past criminal history. Applicants should only answer questions that are related to the job at hand, not about any other characteristic.
At the same time, since many companies have become aware of diversity (or lack thereof) in their offices, they may employ an affirmative action strategy. This allows for the hiring of more people of a certain race or ethnicity or gender.
While this seems in opposition to the idea of equal opportunity, companies can also see how there might be many more Caucasian applicants in the hiring pool, which might lead to companies who are mostly white.
But by opening up and encouraging more diversity, the company can have a population that is more varied.
Not all companies have this practice in place, but many more are looking at ways they can hire more workers with the proper skill set, while also including people to encourage more variety in the office.
Along with wanting to create workplaces that hire fairly and promote fairly from within, workers need to be able to feel safe in their workplace. Sometimes, benefits and compensation have been a part of this discussion, as it's been shown that woman are much more likely to make less than their male counterparts – even with the same skill set.
In addition to creating regulations and laws that prevent this from happening (or at least discourage it), sexual harassment policies are also in place. These rules protect women and men from feeling as though their jobs are dependent on how they react to the sexual advancements of others, especially those in management.
Sexual harassment laws state that a person who feels they have been harassed can talk to their supervisor and get the activities to stop. If the person continues to harass the other person, the offender can be fired. The report is fairly investigated and all sides are considered.
To ensure the best possible support during sexual harassment cases, an HR team should have a strong and easy-to-understand policy in place.
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