A compliance program is a plan you put in place to help your organization comply with the law. An effective plan can help you reduce overall costs and provide better services to your customers. It can also go a long way in limiting the liability of the business. When you create a compliance plan, you are putting a plan into place that indicates how your business operates. You also have a written document that you use to educate your employees and everyone else who works with you to make sure they know how your business works.
That plan, can help you if there is a question about how your business did something or an issue with someone from your staff who goes completely away from the plan in violation of what happens. It makes sure everyone involved in your business whether they are the janitor or the head nurse has an expectation of how a variety of issues will be handled.
Most people think of compliance plans in heavily regulated industries, but compliance plans can be effective in any business. You can even create plans to help you comply with your own business processes.
For a compliance plan to work for your business, you want to make sure you document everything. Documentation gives you plenty of information to help you limit your liability, it makes sure your program is working the way it should, it also limits any potential claims of fraud or other issues you may run into. Not to mention, lawyers love documents. It helps us protect you.
Employee Handbooks are always a good place to start with any kind of business working on building a compliance program. For most businesses, it is possible to cover most of your compliance issues in your employee handbook, but the point is to make any compliance plan you use clear. Sometimes having plans separated out by who is subject to them can be helpful (like driver policies or sales policies for different types of employees).
You need to come up with a plan for how you will document and manage all of the elements in your program. A standard program may not be right for your business. A compliance plan is only as effective as its implementation. If you do not actually follow the plan, you should either create a process to ensure you do or CHANGE YOUR PLAN. The plan cannot protect you if there are holes in it where you regularly ignore part of it.
There is not a model compliance program. You will not find one. There are compliance program guidances. The key is to know what areas you should watch out for in your industry.
These are the basics to help you limit the liability of your business:
- Written Policies and Procedures – standards of conducts and other policies. Share them with everyone. Update your policies periodically.
- Have a compliance professional – Designate a compliance officer with independence and authority.
- Effective Training – Educate your employees.
- Effective Communication – Between Compliance Officer and employees – comment boxes, anonymous hotlines etc. Ways for employees to report misconduct
- Internal Monitoring – Conduct audits regularly to make sure your program is working. Your program should help you detect problems.
- Enforce Your Standards – This is the only way to make sure they follow them
- Promptly respond to complaints or issues.
Compliance can impact every business. Part of building practical processes in your business should include focusing on any compliance issues you may have.
Law is complicated. It is complicated because it affects every part of a business. If you own a business, run a business, or work for a business, you are affected in some way by the law. If it isn’t the regulations or statutes created by Congress, it is the Constitution. If it isn’t those things, it is the way things have always been that has been passed down since the founding of our country (this is called the “Common Law”). So, it is important to focus on how to comply with those laws and right down your plan.
Of course, that is why we talk here each week, right?
I will talk to you next week, unless you talk to me first 😉