skip to main content

Legal and Compliance Training and Education for Supervisors

With the new year come new challenges for each and every organization.  To address some of these challenges, no doubt you are devising training or educational initiatives for your workers.  Supervisors should also receive training to help them in their jobs.  Here are four areas in which every supervisor should be trained.

1) Harassment
Every employer should have a written policy that explicitly prohibits harassment. 

Supervisors should understand what constitutes harassment.  They should know that harassment is not limited to sexual harassment, but also includes harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, and disability.  They should be able to recognize prohibited conduct and understand what amounts to retaliation. 

Supervisors should know the procedures for handling reports and instances of harassment.  They should be prepared to investigate and act swiftly, impartially, and judiciously. 

2)  Family and Medical Leave Act
Every employer should evaluate whether they are required to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), and supervisors should be trained accordingly. 

If an employee requests leave, supervisors should be able to refer that employee to human resources to determine whether that employee is eligible for coverage.  Supervisors should generally know how much leave the FMLA allows and for what specific reasons.  They should make sure that the employee provides the proper notice. 

If the employee takes leave, supervisors should understand the employer's obligations regarding the employee's pay, health benefits, overtime and job protection.  They should also understand how the FMLA affects other personnel policies, such as "Perfect Attendance Awards."  They should determine whether certification from the employee's healthcare provider is needed. 

Employers and supervisors must also understand their FMLA obligations, including what notices they must provide and when and how they must provide these notices. 

3)  Hiring, Maintaining, and Terminating the Employment Relationship
Every employer, whether growing or maintaining a work force, should understand the legal and ethical issues surrounding each stage of the employment relationship.

When hiring new employees, supervisors should know what topics, such as familial background, disabilities, and arrest or conviction records, can be discussed on a job application or in an interview. 

For current employees, supervisors should understand what is permitted or prohibited by the employee handbook.  They should be trained on knowing and enforcing all safety policies.  Supervisors should understand their responsibilities for dealing with any work-related injuries.  They should also recognize their obligations pursuant to any Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and Workers' Compensation claims. 

Supervisors need to know their role when disciplining employees.  They must understand what common law, contractual and statutory limitations, regarding disciplining employees, exist.  They should know and follow any disciplinary procedures outlined in the employee handbook. 

If it comes to separation, then supervisors must know what the employee handbook or collective bargaining agreement says regarding termination.  Supervisors should consult the employee's personnel file prior to taking any permanent action.  They should weigh all of the risks regarding termination and be prepared for the impact a termination may have on the work force.

4)  Positive Employee Relationships
Maintaining a positive relationship with employees is a key to any successful organization.  To achieve this standard, supervisors should recognize how to address any employee concerns, especially any concerns about management. 

Supervisors should know the protections afforded to employees under the National Labor Relations Act.  They should understand why employees might pursue unionization.  They should know what they are legally permitted to do or say, in the event that there is a union-organizing campaign.

If your work force is already organized, supervisors should understand the employer's obligations under the collective bargaining agreement. 

Success and Responding to Challenges in 2014
It is inevitable that your organization will face some unique challenges in 2014.  To ensure that the challenges do not arise from a mismanaged work force, all supervisors should be trained in at least these four areas.  However, employers must be aware that there are many more topics on which supervisors should receive training.  To better understand these topics and others, consult a member of our Labor and Employment Group.  We wish you the best of success in 2014.