Archive for January, 2012

How To Audit Your Personnel Files

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Auditing personnel files should be an annual task for the HR Manager or Business Office Manager.  It isn’t fun but it is necessary if an employer wants to ensure compliance with record retention regulations.  Annual personnel file audits also provide an opportunity to correct any issues prior to an external audit by the government or as part of a lawsuit!  Organized and compliant personnel files will improve the overall efficiency of the department-nobody likes searching for that one document you know you filed but can’t find when you need it.  You can keep records in a paper format or electronically but you must provide appropriate security controls and access either way.  Here is a list of the documents and key issues I look for when auditing personnel files.

Hiring and  On boarding

  • Is there a job application and offer letter? A resume is nice to have but even the most senior executive should be asked to complete an application.
  • Is there a current job description in each employee file, and is each job description signed by the employee?  Has the job description been  reviewed in the last 12 months, even if just to confirm the duties have remained the same? Does the job description provide adequate information to determine if the employee should be classified as exempt or non-exempt in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and IRS regulations?
  • Are the required Acknowledgement forms signed by the employee ( Employee Handbook Acknowledgment, Policies)?
  • Is there a signed Acknowledgment of Receipt of company equipment (for example; uniforms, tools, laptop, cell phone)
  • Is there a completed checklist indicating issues covered during new hire orientation?

Performance Management

  • Are completed performance appraisals signed by the appropriate individuals and is supporting documentation attached?
  • Are the performance appraisals completed on time in accordance with company policy?
  • Do the performance appraisals contain appropriate language and/or identify appropriate development needs that must be addressed?
  • Are disciplinary action notices (counseling sessions/written warnings, performance improvement plans) signed by the supervisor and is supporting documentation attached, if applicable? Do the notices include future expectations with deadlines and consequences for failing to meet the expectations?
  • If applicable, are letters of commendation or certificates of achievement placed in the personnel file?
  • Are termination letters or letters of resignation placed in the employee’s file?

Training & Development

  • Is there documentation indicating compliance with mandatory training(Customer Information Security, F&I,  Red Flags Rule safety, OSHA, harassment prevention)?
  • Are copies of applicable licenses available and up-to-date (sales licenses for example)?


  • Are time sheets maintained for each employee and are they completed and signed by the employee and supervisor? Consider a detailed time card that requires “in and out” for all non exempt employees and day worked log for exempt employees.
  • Have employees signed the appropriate documentation for deductions to paychecks (insurance, 401k contributions, union dues, charitable donations)

Always keep medical records or confidential records separate from the primary personnel file, including anything that has protected information such as a date of birth, medical information, marital status, religious beliefs:

Form I-9 Employment Verification (kept in separate folder or binder)

  • Is there a completed Form I-9 for each employee hired after November 6, 1986?
  • Is each Form I-9 completed within 3 days of the employee’s start date?
  • Is the Form I-9 filled out accurately?

Medical Records/Leave Requests (kept in separate folder or binder)

  • Benefit enrollment forms for current year, beneficiary forms, benefit claims
  • Leave of absence documentation (FMLA and non-FMLA), disability or WC documentation

If you would like a free sample template for personnel file audits please email me at

What We Can All Learn from a Hammer

Friday, January 27th, 2012

A colleague told me about an incident at one of her dealerships, where a technician hit his own knee with a hammer and filed a workman’s comp claim. In the story, the man was in a hurry to fix a rusty part on an older vehicle.  He propped the piece of metal against his leg for support, swung a hammer at the part- missed the part but did some serious damage to his kneecap.


What is your first reaction?


My first thought was that this guy must not be too bright. My reaction is a surface reaction. It lets me hear the story without really having to think about what is going on. I judged that this is one incident, with one individual who brought this on by his own thoughtless actions. This kind of thinking is a very neat way of hearing the story without having to think about it or change the way I do business.


But of course, intelligence is not the real problem in the story. The real problem is that we’ve all done something thoughtless like this when we’re in a hurry.


The root cause of this incident is not the hammer or the technician. They are only part of a larger system that is built around a set of priorities.


Looking at this accident though the eyes of an investigator, there are a number of things to consider if we want to actually prevent accidents like this from happening:


  1. The technician was so focused on meeting a deadline that he took an obvious risk. What could be done in the work environment to balance doing a job quickly with doing a job safely?
  2. Who is responsible for worker safety?Leaving worker safety up to the individual worker gets mixed results. Many workers believe whole heartedly that the customer comes first. They do whatever they can to meet difficult deadlines, often taking unnecessary risks (or compromising the quality of services rendered). Workers need to know that safety is actually the top priority- and it needs to be communicated clearly through actions and policies.
  3. Consider the process. Where is the proper tool for the job located relative to the work station? Is there a way to make it less time consuming for the worker to do his job safely?


As a safety advocate, I try to learn from every accident or near miss, and to extract useful guidance that workers and management can act on in the moment. The lessons from the this accident have little to do with the the hammer or the knee. Looking at the bigger picture, there is a lot that can be learned from any accident or near miss as long as we don’t start by assuming that what happened is some kind of anomaly.

A Few Things You Should Know About OSHA’s Pending I2P2 Requirements

Friday, January 20th, 2012

This month OSHA published a whitepaper on Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (I2P2).  Leading up to this publication, there has been a lot of regulatory activity around I2P2. Shortly after proposing a federal standard for I2P2 in 2010, OSHA held a series of stakeholder meetings on the subject.  In this newly released whitepaper, OSHA makes clear that they see overwhelming value in moving forward.  The paper discusses the needs and benefits associated with a well-run program while downplaying the cost to business.

Questions raised by the whitepaper

What will the final regulation look like?  Who will it apply to?  And when will we see the first draft?  There are some preliminary indications in the white paper as to which industries the new regulation will affect, but the timeline for the new guideline is still up in the air. Additionally, there is a precedent for political pressures to get involved with crafting guidelines. In this case, it means that the federal standard will be based on a combination of state programs, the ANSI Z10 standard, and the OHSAS 18001 standard.  References in the whitepaper indicate that the regulation will require employers to abide by plans with some form of “management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement.”  The tone of the whitepaper indicates that OSHA sees benefits for all sizes of businesses but may lean towards reduced regulation for business under a certain threshold of employees (less than 10 or 15).

Guidelines for an I2P2 Program

Based on the whitepaper and influencers in the legislative process, programs are likely to be evaluated on the following criteria:

  1. Does management participate and encourage involvement in the safety systems and processes in your workplace?  This involvement is the key to letting your employees know that you care and that safety is an important part of everyone’s job.  There’s no better way to build a strong safety culture than to lead by example.
  2. Do your workers participate in the safety program?  This includes participation in safety committee meetings, gathering and acting on employee suggestions, or as part of your hazard identification process.  Remember that employees are more likely to know about the hazards they face than management.
  3. Do you have a system in place to identify hazards in your workplace?  Once identified, is there a process in place to ensure timely correction?  Identifying and correcting hazards not only eliminates risk of injury, but sends an important message to your employees that you value their safety.
  4. Do you proactively evaluate your employees work practices and new processes to prevent and control new hazards?  This is where it’s good to look at industry experts and pool resources among many similar businesses to identify trends and new hazards before they occur.
  5. Do you conduct regular health and safety training for your employees?  Training can be specific to a particular task or general in nature – either way taking time out for safety training sends the message that your business values safety over speediness.
  6. Finally do you measure the effectiveness of your program and seek ways to improve it?  Can you measure your facility against your peers or departments against each other?  A good software tool will make these metrics easier to manage and simple accident investigations and evaluations will give you insight into where to improve the process.

The Point

If you’re a KPA Environment & Safety Pro client, then you already have the foundations to comply with the pending I2P2 requirements. Our programs include safety committees, incident tracking, and written programs based on industry best practices. Currently, these programs meet proposed I2P2 regulation requirements.  If things change in the legislative process, KPA will modify our programs to ensure compliance with any new regulations.


Additional information on OSHA’s I2P2 initiative and a copy of the whitepaper are available at:


What do you think? Have you been watching these developments as OSHA crafts new regulations? Are you ready if it goes into place in 2012?

Employee Rights Posting Postponed Yet Again- Now Required by April 30, 2012

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

For the second time, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) postponed the effective date for posting its employee rights notice. The new date is April 30, 2012. Most private-sector employers including dealerships must post a new notice issued by the NLRB entitled, “Employee Rights Under the National Labor Relations Act.” The poster informs employees of their rights to organize a union, bargain collectively through representatives chosen by the employees and to make efforts to improve the terms and conditions of their employment. The poster requirement was initially scheduled for implementation on November 14, 2011, but was delayed until January 31, 2012, as a result of litigation filed by various organizations.  On December 23, 2011, the NLRB said it would delay implementation to April 30, 2012, in response to a request by a federal court judge hearing  a legal challenge to the poster requirement. However, because this issue remains in litigation, there is a chance that this posting deadline will be delayed at least one more time. Employers who have already posted the notice may take it down or leave it up as they chose at this point.

It is not uncommon for a federal or state agency to  make a rule and then have it challenged in court or even to have the agency delays to seek further comment and clarification.  The Red Flags Rule is a perfect example of multiple delays before the final implementation date was settled on.

If you would like a copy of the proposed Employee Rights Notice go to  KPA’s HR Management clients will find the notice in the “Toolkit Section”.

Going to the NADA Convention? You’re Invited to Our Super Super Bowl Party!

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

You’re headed to Vegas for the 2012 NADA convention, and you need tickets to the best Super Bowl Party in town? Be our guest!

Join us on Sunday, February 5 at the Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant in Las Vegas for the Super Super Bowl Party! Register now to mix, mingle, network, eat, drink, and enjoy the big game from kick-off to the final whistle with NADA friends and colleagues from around the country.

Get your tickets today (limit two per registration)

Seating is limited and advanced reservations are required


Get more information and RSVP at:


January Tip Of the Month: Audit Your HR Compliance

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Compliance Tip of the MonthWith the focus on enforcement by the Department of Labor in 2012 every HR manager should take the time to do a compliance audit by the end of this month.  It is always better to self- audit and correct issues rather than take the “wait and see if they catch me” approach.  KPA provides a HR Compliance Audit form at that will allow you audit all of your HR practice and also provides guidance on best practices.  Take the time to audit at the beginning of this year and then make it an annual habit to ensure your company is in compliance.

OSHA Updates Multi-piece and Single-piece Rim Wheel Charts and Manuals

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

OSHA just announced that updated charts and manuals for servicing multi-piece and single-piece rim wheels are available, and that updated manuals will soon be distributed to the regulated community.

In updating this information, OSHA decided not to print large posters with the updated information, but to provide an 8.5 inch by 11 inch printed manuals containing this information that employers could use in the shop as an alternative to displaying the large posters. The manual would be more portable and accessible than a large poster, which employers typically mounted on a wall.

To reduce the distribution burden, OSHA will print and mail the manuals, but not the posters. The posters, as well as the manuals, will be available in electronic files (PDF) on the OSHA Web site at (and type “tire chart” in the search field).

OSHA also is revising the content of its two existing charts. The “Multi-piece Rim Matching Chart” will provide an updated list of multi-piece rim wheel components, both current and obsolete, while the “Demounting and Mounting Procedures for Truck/Bus Tires” chart will consist of two separate charts entitled “Demounting and Mounting Procedures for Tubeless Truck and Bus Tires” and “Demounting and Mounting Procedures for Tube-Type Truck and Bus Tires.”

Consistent with these revisions, OSHA is amending the definitions of “charts” in paragraph (b) of the standard to refer to the new Department of Labor charts (i.e., manuals or posters), or to any other information or poster that provides at least the same instructions, safety precautions, and other information contained in OSHA’s charts, and that is applicable to the types of rim wheels the employer is servicing.