By: Anne-Marie L. Storey, Esq.
There are many ways to interpret a “healthy workplace.” The first is to ensure that basic policies, training, and education are in place and working effectively. This may include the need for an audit of the workplace, including the handbook and postings.
Each new year is a good time to review the handbook to make sure it continues to comply with state and federal law, but also that it continues to reflect your workplace culture. Also, this is a good time to re-evaluate benefits (such as sick time, vacation, PTO) offered.
Ensure that no changes need to be made. Of course, we anticipate changes to all leave policies based on the new Maine law. However, those changes are pending direction from the DOL rule-making before that law takes effect next year.
This is also a good time to review your training on sexual and other forms of harassment. Maine law only requires sexual harassment training for employers with 15 or more employees. Though, all employers should offer not only that training but also education on other forms of harassment. Ensure policies are effectively communicated.
As part of the healthy workplace audit, employers should also ensure that their minimum wage is current with the increase that became effective as of January 1. All exempt employees should be correctly characterized under both the salary basis and duties tests. This should also include an assessment of any independent contractor to make certain that individuals are correctly characterized.
Second, “workplace health” can include consideration of issues that continue to arise from the use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. For 2020, this likely involves issues regarding the use of CBD, including whether and how to regulate it.
Third, “workplace health” can include an assessment of work practices for purposes of limiting workers’ compensation claims as much as possible, including safety procedures and best practices training. Fourth, “workplace health” should include efforts to train supervisors about their varied obligations and responsibilities.
Lunch & Learn
Another way to interpret “workplace health” is through wellness programs. We will be offering a Lunch and Learn this month to talk about wellness programs. Including not just the potential benefit of such programs but also the legal risks they may create. To the extent the RW Employment Team can assist with helping ensure your healthy workplace, we are happy to do so.