The federal Department of Labor (DOL) requires certain information to be prominently displayed in the workplace, in a manner that is accessible to employees. The reasoning behind this requirement is to ensure that workers receive important information about their rights and safety. In addition to the federal requirements, each state has its own laws mandating posted information. The DOL and the state agencies will provide the posters at no charge to your company.
There are two broad categories into which mandatory posters usually fall. Some postings concern employee rights under state and federal law and consist of a clear statement of the substance of the applicable law. Typical content may include anti-discrimination statements, minimum wage provisions and unemployment insurance requirements as well as a summary of the Family and Medical Leave Act and equivalent state provisions. If relevant, you may also need to put up a poster concerning union officers’ rights and responsibilities.
Another type of required poster addresses workplace health and safety. In addition to posting the provisions of the Occupation Health and Safety Act (OSHA) as well as the corresponding state law, employers may have to post information concerning possible chemical exposure and other potential work hazards. Some states, such as California, also require phone numbers for emergency responders to be prominently displayed.
Specific Poster Requirements
Depending on your type of company, you may not need every single poster. If a particular law does not apply in your case, you are not required to post information about it. For instance, the FMLA applies to companies with 50 or more employees. If you own a small business employing 10 workers, you are not covered by this statute and do not need a poster.
The nature of your business can also trigger additional requirements. Healthcare workers may enjoy specific protections and rights. Many states also have specific provisions to protect whistleblowers against adverse actions by the employer and require these laws to be posted in the workplace. Companies where employees operate certain types of potentially hazardous equipment may have to post clear rules and instructions.
State labor laws that protect workers typically adhere to the substance of the relevant federal law, often expanding on it or adding to it. Your state’s law may increase the scope of the application of the federal requirement, extending its reach to companies with fewer employees. State laws can also add protected categories to the basic anti-discrimination statute. State poster requirements can also be geared to highlight a law that addresses a specific, widespread problem. For example, Vermont mandates a separate “Sexual Harassment Is Illegal” poster.
Employers are required to make the posters accessible to all employees. This means that they should be located in a room that is frequented by all employees, such as a break room, and should be displayed on a visible spot on the wall. Print should be clear and legible. If your workforce consists of a substantial number of employees who may not speak English well, it is prudent to offer posters in their native language in addition to English. The DOL provides a downloadable Spanish version, whish is also offered by several states.
Understanding the Legal Implications for You
Sometimes employers, especially small business owners, may have difficulty understanding specifically which federal and state labor laws apply to them. To obtain clarity, it can help to consult an employment law attorney. Your state’s labor agency will typically offer a list of required posters with links for downloading; many state websites also list federal requirements. While some websites will offer clear and comprehensive information, others may leave you needing to consult a professional to determine the extent of your obligations. Either way, employer compliance is important to the company, as failing to comply can result in fines and other legal consequences.
Small business owners do not always realize that they are subject to labor laws just as much as mega-corporations. While specific requirements may vary depending on the state where your business is located, the nature of your business and the size of your company, the basic laws for mandatory posted information are similar across the nation.Click to view more Human Resources Legal Disclaimer
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