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9 HR Policies: Protect Your Arizona Small Business

Your small business may not have the benefit of a giant human resources department or an expensive law firm on retainer, but that doesn’t mean you’re any less exposed to numerous business liability risks. Whether you have a staff of 20 or a team of 200, investing in smart HR policies isn’t bloated bureaucracy. It’s smart business sense. If you don’t know where to start, every small business owner in Arizona needs to focus on nine foundational HR policies.

9 Essential HR Policies That Your Small Business Needs

A 2020 study published by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform found that small businesses shoulder 53% of the commercial liability costs in America, and the smaller the business, the more negatively affected it was by the U.S. lawsuit system. Protect yourself from such lawsuits and claims with these nine essential HR policies.

The following policies will lay the legal groundwork to help your small business to get ahead of potential problems, and ensure compliance with both federal regulations and Arizona state laws. Outline these policies in your employee handbook, make sure these policies are signed when onboarding new hires, and clearly communicate these rules to your staff on a consistent basis.

 1. At-Will Policy

Arizona, like most states, is an at-will state. In fact, Montana is the only outlier in the country.

In Arizona, the employer-and-employee relationship can be terminated by either you or your employee at any time, and for any reason. A defined at-will policy explains this in clear terms to all involved parties, and it helps protect you should you ever let an employee go (especially if they’re fired without cause).

2. Equal Employment Opportunity Policies (Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment)

Every year, thousands of complaints are filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about alleged discrimination in Arizona, ranging from sexual harassment to racial discrimination to claims of unequal pay.

A clear EEO policy communicates to your staff that your small business is committed to providing equal opportunities to everyone regardless of age, race, religion and other classes protected by Arizona law.

3. Wage and Hour Policies

Your team wants to know when they will get paid, and how often they are paid. Likewise, they’ll need to know the expectations and rules about tracking their hours, submitting time cards, how and when deductions are made, what to do if the deductions on their paycheck are wrong, etc.

4. Social Media Policy

Your employees represent your brand. What happens if one of your staff posts something racist, sexist or otherwise inappropriate? Protect your company’s reputation with a clear social media policy that communicates:

  • your expectation of social media conduct
  • how violations are defined and determined
  • what the repercussions may be if this policy is violated by a team member

Be forewarned: When it comes to social media, unclear policies with unclear definitions are rampant. Because the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is heavily involved in cases in Arizona, small businesses would be wise to consult outside counsel, your in-house HR professional, or an HR outsourcing company for guidance on drafting a social media policy that’s clear, enforceable, and easily defendable.

5. Workplace Conduct Policy

Workplace conduct is deeply intertwined with workplace culture. Both are important not only for your legal liabilities, but also your employees’ productivity and job satisfaction. Your policy about workplace conduct should cover common hot topics and areas of contention, including dress codes, timing and frequency of breaks, etc.

6. Expectations of an Employee

This ties into the previous workplace conduct policy, but is a bit more nebulous and therefore benefits from a clearly written policy. Explain specific expectations about your teams, your office, etc. This might include abstract ideas, such as how conflicting ideas should be communicated in meetings.

7. Vacation and Time Off Policies

In Arizona, the state does not require employers to offer vacation or paid time off. However, all small businesses are required to provide paid sick leave.

Your policy must explain your employees’ time-off benefits, including how time off pay is calculated, how far in advance an employee needs to submit a vacation request, etc.

8. Substance Abuse Policy

Substance abuse is a growing health problem for the state of Arizona. And in our current reality with many employees working remotely from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of substances like alcohol may be a growing concern for you. The policy should outline expectations and rules about working under the influence.

As a bonus, the Arizona Alcohol & Drug Free Workplace Premium Credit provides a discount on your workers’ compensation policy premiums if your small business has a substance abuse policy.

9. Labor Posters

The state of Arizona requires all small businesses to post several labor posters throughout the workplace. These include workers’ compensation posters, employee safety and health protection posters, and more. Depending on your workplace (i.e. in-person staff or remote and online) and the language spoken by your employees, specific additional regulations may apply.

Get a Jump-Start on your Arizona Small Business Human Resource Policies

Navigating the complex world of HR policies is important for your small business but also time-consuming. The HR strategists and HR policy advisors at Integrity Outsource can help. Whether you need help drafting your employee policies, or want guidance figuring out the specific regulations and rules that you need to discuss with your staff, contact us today to schedule a consultation with a certified HR professional.

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