This vital aspect provides critical analysis of current policies, systems and practices to uncover and provide solutions where business is likely at risk by evidence your firm is probably creating during its normal routines. Could your own information be used against you in court? Will your HR documents hurt you when they are reviewed by the state unemployment office, a judge, a jury, an EEOC investigator, or a state wage investigator? What’s Exhibit ‘1’ if you go to a hearing?
We know and understand that most employers have expended time and effort to create staff policies, practices, and procedures to meet legal requirements and maintain their company’s culture. Often, this includes employee handbooks, administrative rules for managers, performance management systems and guidebooks, succession and severance plans, and processes for onboarding new hires, disciplining or terminating employees, promotion guidelines, and deciding on bonuses.
We also recognize that not all HR policies, practices, and procedures are put on paper – there are “shop rules” which exist because they always have. In writing or not, it is quite important that your company has a process to make sure that policies, practices, and procedures stay current with legal and compliance requirements. Our human resources audits and compliance reviews can do just that.
A human resources audit usually involves review of all HR policies, practices, and procedures, formal and informal. It includes reviewing documents, interviewing human resource staff, and interviewing managers. As an outside reviewer, our audit is most often much more worthwhile than an in-house review since we have no personal stake in the outcome and what is working presently. We are able to conduct the audit as an attorney so that it can be protected by the attorney/client privilege and its results will not be discoverable in a lawsuit. However it is arranged, conducting an HR audit every few years can:
- Identify policies and procedures that need to be updated for changes in the law or compliance rules.
- Identify policies and procedures that are not followed and find out why.
- Find out about unwritten practices and whether there are any legal risks associated with those practices.
- Gauge whether procedures and practices are user friendly and what changes can be made to help assure broader compliance.
- Identify opportunities for new policies or procedures that will help minimize risk.
- Determine whether record-keeping practices are being followed.
- Identify where additional training or communication would be helpful for compliance.
Our HR audits culminate in a well-organized report. The report includes not only the specific results of the audit, but also a list of recommended actions, ranked by risk, so that your firm can easily see exposures and determine the order in which needs will be addressed.
An HR audit can be as broad or narrow as budgets and time permit. It may be useful to cascade the overall review so that in one year the audit is limited to written policies and procedures. In the following year, the audit could examine at the level of compliance with signed new-hire paperwork, contracts, and agreements. Whether an audit is done piecemeal or all at once, the important thing is to have a process in place that ensures HR programs are up-to-date, sufficient, and followed.