In the ongoing debates in the HR blogsphere on the Death of HR ( Laurie Ruettimann, Mike Van Dervort and mine) there were a number of comments about necessary changes in the field to make it viable or more up-to-date. One of the areas mentioned with some regularity was that HR needed to get out of the compliance arena. Leave that to the lawyers the critics say.
My reaction? BULLS**T!
To me, where the “rubber meets the road” * in HR is in Employee Relations. The interactions between employees and management. That is where great things get done and where major mistakes get made. And these mistakes center on violations of the laws, accidental or meant, it makes no difference. And because of this, in my opinion, HR people in ER need to know the laws. They have to be compliance people. This is different than attorneys knowing the law. No chapter and verse, court case quoting here. Just what is the law and how does it apply to my company. The practical application of the law. And there is alot of it.
And there is more coming. The Obama administration is trying to make its mark in labor and employment law. They have already passed the Lily Ledbetter Act and four presidential Executive Orders have been passed. AND there are THIRTEEN pieces of legislation pending mid-term. The one with the most press coverage is the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) but there are a dozen more. Here is the list of 2009 Mid-Term Federal Legislation pending. Thanks to the folks at World at Work and blog buddy Eric B. Meyer for the heads up.
* To my non-American readers click the link for a definition of this idiom.