So, you just found out you need updated labor law posters and OSHA posters. Normally you’d go online and buy an updated version of the same ones you’ve always purchased and call it a day but this year you’re a bit hesitant to do that because you’ve got a lot of questions.
"Are you going to get the right posters? What are the right posters? Do you have to provide workers who telecommute or who perform telework with this information and if so, how? What if you buy a bunch of new posters and the requirements change again in a month or two? Are there alternative options to buying posters?"
If there’s one thing we’ve all experienced this year, it’s information overload and it’s made even simple tasks like ensuring you have the right mandatory posters, a bit more difficult. To help with this, we’ve put together some information to help you get this task completed without too much additional stress or added costs.
That may seem like a pretty loaded question since it feels like so much has changed this year. When it comes to your mandatory labor law and OSHA poster requirements, what’s changed really depends on the size of your company and what state you live in, among other things.
We’re going to start by talking about the biggest change to labor and safety laws, affecting the largest number of U.S. employers—which of course is COVID-19 related legislation.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to include the Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA. This is the new legislation that requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave (FML) for specific situations related to COVID-19. This provision became a requirement on April 1, 2020 and is extended through December 31, 2020, but with COVID-19 not showing signs of slowing down, it’s a safe bet that FFCRA will probably be extended into 2021.
Many employers may not think they’re included in this requirement because they employ fewer than 50 employees which is the threshold to be covered under FML—but keep in mind the federal government expanded FML in early 2020 to incorporate COVID-19 which changed things a bit.
Now, employees who have worked for the company for just 30 days and are unable to work or telework in order to care for a minor child whose school or childcare provider is closed due to COVID-19 are eligible. In addition, expanded FML includes employers with fewer than 500 employees. However, you might still be exempted from FFCRA if the following applies: 
- The employer employs fewer than 50 employees;
- The leave is requested because the child’s school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons; and
- An authorized officer of the business has determined that at least one of these three conditions is satisfied:
- The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;
- The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or
- There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.
Irrespective, there’s a new required poster outlining the basics of the FFRCA that employers are required to post along with their other mandatory posters.
Other Big Changes
Both 2019 and 2020 were big years for changes to labor and safety laws. Just this year at least 26 states made updates to at least one of the laws included in their mandatory labor law and/or OSHA posters—and 2021 is going to be just as busy!
The states listed below have changes to their labor and/or safety laws set to start sometime in 2021. If you’re interested in an excellent resource that outlines each of the changes being made, see the footnote at the bottom of this page.
- New Jersey
- New York
For many employers, the idea of allowing their employees to work from home was never part of their overall company strategy. But, when faced with the choice of either shutting a business down completely or allowing employees to work from home, many companies who were able to, chose to allow their workers to telework so they could continue operating.
While companies may be operating completely differently now than they were in January of this year, one thing that hasn’t changed is the requirement to ensure workers are aware of their workplace rights—even if they work from home. The Department of Labor still requires employers to provide their employees with all applicable information pertaining to their employment rights, regardless of whether they work in an office or whether they work from home.
If you’re not sure of the best way to ensure your workers have access to this information while they work from home, here are a few suggestions:
- Option 1: Add the required information to your internal company website and notify your employees where the information can be found.
- Option 2: Provide the required information electronically via email to your workforce.
- Option 3: Hire a third party vendor which offers an intranet poster program like GovDocs.
Regardless of which option you choose to use, it’s important that your workers understand their rights. It’s also important that when this information is shared with the workforce that it’s shared in either a positive or neutral way. The last thing a company should want is for an employee who really needs FML or some other pertinent benefit to be deterred from requesting it due to how the employer communicated things or because of a perceived idea that requesting it will affect their employment.
Granted, no employer wants to face a situation where half of their workforce is requesting FML however, that shouldn’t be a concern if things are managed properly. Well written internal company policies, proper training for those who are tasked with administering these programs, regular audits and uniform enforcement of these policies should greatly reduce those concerns.
To make sure your program administrators have all the tools and information they need to properly administer these programs, the Department of Labor has provided several excellent resources including general guidance documents, fact sheets, E-tools and PowerPoint training, all geared towards understanding and managing programs like FML.
Posters—to Buy or Not to Buy
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, buying a series of mandatory posters and finding out a few months later that the laws have changed again and they’ll need to buy more is a dilemma that many employers are faced with right now.
Because the pandemic has weakened the economy, many businesses are having to tighten their belts and while most labor law and OSHA posters aren’t expensive to purchase, having to buy them multiple times a year can get very expensive, especially if a company has to buy them for more than one location. Thankfully there are a few options that can help alleviate these concerns.
Posters for Purchase
There are numerous companies selling mandatory labor law and OSHA posters so if you’re inclined to purchase them, it should be no problem finding a good, reputable company to buy them from. When purchasing them from an online vendor, you’ll want to do the following:
- Make sure the posters you’re buying have all the required wording.
- Make sure that the size requirements are met for both the OSHA poster which is required to be at least 8 ½” by 14” with 10 point type and the Executive Order 13496: Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws poster which must be an exact duplicate of the federal government’s poster and must be 11” by 17”.
- If you’re buying an “all in one” poster, make sure that each of the required federal topics is included in the poster.
- If you’re buying state posters, make sure you’ve checked with your state’s labor office to make sure you’re getting the most updated version.
If buying posters is the best option for you but you’re still worried about making sure you get updated posters when or if the laws change, look into companies offering poster compliance services. For a specified fee, these companies will provide you with the most updated posters and will guarantee new posters if the laws are updated during a specified time period. These programs are handy if you don’t want to be bothered with keeping up with numerous poster changes and if money isn’t a big concern.
Did you know that both the Department of Labor and OSHA provide all of the required individual federal posters for free? It’s true. Both agencies also offer many of their free printable posters in multiple languages and sizes. You can also go to OSHA’s Publications Office page, choose the posters (or any of their other publications they offer), add them to your cart and have them printed and shipped to you, free of charge. The Publications Office also handles bulk orders if you’re in need of bulk quantities.
For state posters, usually each state labor office will offer any required state posters free of charge as well. Here’s a link to find your state labor office’s website.
The perks of getting your mandatory posters from one of the government websites are that you don’t have to worry about buying more posters if the laws change, you can post them in any arrangement you want without having to find space for a big, “all in one” sized poster, and if you’re so inclined, with a few modifications you can add your own logo or company link to the posters. Another big perk of printing out and posting the individual posters from the DOL or from OSHA is that you’re guaranteed to always have correct information.
How Safety Software Can Help
When it comes to managing posters and the associated internal policies for things like FML, having a good way of making sure the most updated information is available to your workforce is really important. One way to do that is through safety software like EHS Insight.
With EHS Insight customers can control their documents through the Document Library which allows for the storage, management and electronic tracking of documents and images, making them readily available to system users who have been assigned access. For companies with multiple locations, adding the individual federal and state posters to the Document Library would be a great way of ensuring everyone has access to the most updated versions. And, when used in conjunction with other modules such as the Safety Meetings software module or the Training Management software module, customers can ensure their workforce is being provided regular reviews of posters and associated internal programs.
Interested in finding out more? Get in contact with us and we’ll be happy to show you how we can help you manage your documents and much more!