Last Updated: Dec 22, 2017
Labor law posters such as minimum wage posters, family leave, USERRA, and many others, must be posted in the workplace by any business with employees. Finding required state and federal labor law posters & updating them can be confusing. Unfortunately, some companies selling labor law posters attempt to take advantage of businesses, claiming notices need to be replaced when they may not. Here’s how you can be sure your notices aren’t out of date.
If you run a business and have employees, there are a slew of federal and state labor law posters you’re required to post where employees can see them each day. These are often called labor law posters, compliance posters, or workplace posters. They include things like federal and state minimum wage posters, federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal USERRA, non-discrimination notices, as well as other workplace posters that are related to health care, safety, workers’ compensation, prevailing wage rates, and more that vary depending on the state and/or the type of business you are in, or who your customer are.
Because labor law postings are required by various government agencies, businesses may be subject to fines for failure to display the required workplace notices. While most agencies don’t have the manpower to go door-to-door inspecting businesses to see if all the labor law posters are up-to-date, if your business is not in compliance with posting rules, a complaint from an employee or random inspection might cause your company to get a warning or incur a fine. Thus the prudent course of action, is simply to comply with the law and display mandatory minimum wage and other labor posters.
The federal government has a service called Elaws – First Step Poster Advisor that can help your company determine which federal labor law posters you are required to display. Many states also have pages in their state labor department website that can help you identify which state posters you need to display. And the federal government and most states make these required labor posters available to businesses to download for free.
The problem, however, is that it can take hours to identify and find the posters you need to download. Then, once have them all, you have to post multiple pieces of paper – paper that can be easily ripped or lost on a company bulletin board. Furthermore, state and federal government agencies change the wording periodically on the posters you’re required to display. So, keeping up with everything that ought to be posted and making sure that the most current notices are posted in the workplace can be a real chore.
To solve the problem, a number of companies have created labor law posters that combine all the state and federal regulations onto one or two posters. Most companies make the posters available in a laminated format so they don’t get ripped or bent out of shape.
The posters, in general, are a good thing. They tidy up offices by combining many separate labor notices into one or two larger documents, and most importantly, help you stay in compliance with federal and state posting requirements.
But unfortunately, some of the companies that market labor law posters use hard-sell marketing tactics to get you to replace your labor law posters before you really need to. In fact, some of the marketing materials that get sent in mail seem somewhat misleading and deceptive.
Some mailings look like invoices and imply that you will be fined thousands of dollars if you don’t order posters for your business. Some mailing may include notice numbers, or reference numbers or other information that attempt to make the document official. They sometimes include the names of laws you must post, too, and imply that posters you already have are out of date.
If your business gets such notices in mail, look at who it really comes from. If you see the words poster service, or compliance service, or if you see an out-of-state address, you can be sure the official-looking “Notice” is just a sales letter. Another dead giveaway – the envelope or something in small print on the form inside the envelope may have wording saying this is not a government document or not an official document.
Another potential “gotcha” for businesses, is companies that charge you extra for a yearly “update” service. Paying the extra fee assures you that you’ll receive a new poster each time during the year there is a state of federal change that you’re required to post. The problem with paying that extra update fee, is that there may be no change in state or federal posting requirements during the year. In fact, there are years when businesses in some states don’t have to change any of their posters (ie, because neither the federal government or the government in their state made any changes.)
Hence paying the extra fee, is a choice that’s somewhat like buying the extra warranties for appliances and electronics. It might save you money, but it might also cause you to unnecessarily pay much more than needed if nothing changes.
If you are buying labor law posters from a commercial company, you should be able to get a single poster that combines state and federal laws on one poster or a two-poster set for between $30 and $40 if you search the Internet. Some may be available at a lower price, too, but might not be laminated. If you add on an update service, or buy them through any company such as a payroll service that adds in the cost of the posters to your month bill and then automatically sends you new posters as needed, you may pay closer to $90 to $100 per poster
If you are a large company and ordering in quantity (10 or more posters, for instance), you may be able to get discounts on your purchase. Some companies list quantity prices on their websites. Others, will only quote you a discounted price if you call.
The first thing to remember is that you don’t need to get new posters just because it’s a new year. You only need to replace labor law posters when laws change.
If you’re unsure when labor law notices you need to post were last changed, check with the US Department of Labor and your state labor department to find out if there have been any changes in required postings. You can also search the web for the term “recent labor law poster updates.” This search will show you a number of websites that post a list of the latest updates. Keep in mind that most of those sites will also be selling posters. If you want to get the information from a government site, be sure the URL you click to is a .gov site.
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About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets. Follow Janet on Twitter and on LinkedIn