Don’t forget to include employment law in your credit union’s training rotation.“Since President Obama has come into office, there are numerous changes to employment law that will have significant impact on organizations-FMLA, Americans with Disability Act, Cobra, Fair Pay, to name a few,” said Texas Credit Union League’s Credit Union Employment Resources Human Resources Vice President Susan Looney. “So it is critical that HR professionals stay abreast of these changes not only in the law but in case law as well.”According to Looney, credit union HR professionals should attend at least one employment law session a year and be aware of changes in labor laws. Credit union can also keep updated through various resources from national and state credit union associations, Society of Human Resource Management and local HR chapters, to the Department of Labor.“Look at the news, read HR and management magazines whatever you can do to keep active on what’s going on in the world,” said Looney.She added that HR-related laws are a constant challenge, and court systems are known to interpret these laws differently. Looney said that while it is important for HR practitioners to follow the letter of the law, they must also understand case law.“From the issues of equal pay and raising the minimum wage to having more paid leave under FMLA, every year brings new laws that may impact credit unions as far as compliance. So you need to not only know the law but also the practicality of it,” said Looney. “Hopefully, we’re done with major legislation for the year, but one of the issues still out there is the Free Choice Act, which basically makes it even easier to join unions. And that might be something credit unions need to keep an eye on down the line as far as how it may potentially affect HR practices.”Looney says an example of this is the Lilly Ledbetter Act, which changed the statutes of limitation on claims of discrimination in compensation.“Say five years ago your credit union paid men more than women, prior to this act, the statute had a 180 to 300 day window, now the statute of limitations clock renews with every paycheck,” said Looney. “One of the results is now employers may have to hold onto their records longer than they used to and really look into when staffers were hired, review performance of male and female employees and see if they were paid equivalently.”Even taking steps to layoffs or implementing hiring freezes can be an HR minefield.“Unfortunately, with the current economy credit unions are also having to layoff staff, and they need to be careful how those employees are selected,” said Looney. “Generally, basing it on tenure is usually safest, and if it is performance-based, then make sure there is a good system as far as documentation and having objective criteria to make that determination.”In addition, it’s critical to make the distinction between a layoff and a termination. She warns that if a credit union tries to spare an employee’s feeling by having the position as part of a layoff, it could be opening itself up to possible liability.“I know how many hats people wear at credit unions and time may be an issue, but it is still so important to stay updated on the latest news,” said Looney.–[email protected]

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