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US nonprofits: Are your mandatory work posters up to date?

The U.S. Department of Labor requires specific work posters to be displayed in every American workplace, and nonprofits are no exception. The exact collection of posters depends on the types of workers you employ and the specific laws in your state. Here are the basics.

What are the most common mandatory work posters?

Common mandatory work posters include:

Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act poster is probably more familiar as the federal minimum wage poster. In cases where the overtime provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act doesn't apply, you're allowed to alter the poster accordingly. If you have employees who aren't proficient in English, you must display the poster in a language they're able to read. In addition, special posters are available for agricultural workers and contract employees.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA poster must be displayed by all organizations whose employees are protected by the law. In general, this includes:

  • For-profit or nonprofit private-sector organizations that employ 50 or more people for 20 or more weeks a year
  • For-profit or nonprofit public and private schools, regardless of total number of employees

Again, if you have employees who aren't proficient in English, you must also provide a poster in the language they're able to read.

Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)

In addition to government employers, all workplaces engaging in commerce must post the EPPA poster. The Department of Labor stipulates that this poster must be visible not only to current employees but job applicants as well.

Equal employment opportunity

The federal equal employment opportunity poster must be posted by organizations that:

  • Hold federal contracts or subcontracts
  • Hold federally assisted construction contracts of more than $10,000
  • Issue and pay agents for U.S. savings bonds and savings notes
  • Hold deposits of federal funds

Job safety and health

The federal job safety and health poster is required unless your state has an OSHA-approved state plan. Not sure about your state? Find out here. Without a state-specific plan that supersedes the federal guidelines, the federal poster should be displayed.

State-specific posters

In addition to federal posters, you may need to post other mandatory posters based on state laws. For example, many states require posters about workers' compensation. Some states also require posting of state child labor laws.

Make sure you're compliant by visiting your state's labor department website. Your city or local government may also have posting requirements. For example, the city of San Francisco has several additional posting requirements. Check with your local municipal or county government office to find out.

How do I know which work posters are required?

This is far from an exhaustive list of federal and state posters. To determine which federal posters you're required to display, rely on the poster advisor tool from the Department of Labor.

Where can I get copies of the posters?

In most cases, you can download PDF versions of required posters in several languages from federal and state labor departments. There are also countless online retailers from whom you can purchase high-quality, laminated reproductions of the posters. Services are also available that assemble packages of required posters for each state. Many vendors will even provide you with updates as necessary.

When do I need to display posters in languages other than English?

In general, Department of Labor regulations don't require posting notices in Spanish or other languages. However, you may want to take this step if your employees speak other languages.

There are a few notable exceptions that require posting in other languages, however, including FMLA, the Fair Labor Standards Act poster for agricultural workers and Executive Order 13496: Notification of Employee Rights Under Federal Labor Laws. In addition, several states — including Arizona, California, Connecticut, New Mexico and Texas — have posting requirements that mention Spanish. Be sure to check your state's labor department website to see the rules for your state.

Where should the posters be placed?

Placement of mandatory work posters varies greatly. Some posters are explicitly required to be placed where employee notices customarily are posted, while others require "conspicuous" placement. Good locations for posters are near a time clock or the human resources office, or in a lunchroom, break room, employee lounge or kitchen. You may choose to place the same posters in several areas or buildings.

In some cases, public display of a poster is at your discretion — such as when a notice affects only a small number of employees. This is often the case for the special minimum wage poster for workers with disabilities.

What are my obligations to job applicants?

FMLA, EPPA and equal employment opportunity posters must be displayed where applicants as well as employees can see them. If you list job postings on your website, provide links to these three posters along with the following statement: "Applicants have rights under federal employment laws."

What about remote workers?

If you have more than one employee at a remote location, post required notices in an area frequented by those employees. However, it isn't necessary to require employees who work from home to post notices. Of course, you still need to make sure these employees are aware of their rights. Thus, it's advisable to mail posters or make electronic versions of them available on your website.

What are the consequences of failing to post mandatory work posters?

More often than not, failure to post mandatory work posters carries a penalty — ranging from a citation or $100 fine to the termination of a contract. In notable exception, there are no sanctions for failure to post Fair Labor Standards Act and FMLA posters.

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Disclaimer

MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

Disclaimer

References

U.S. Department of Labor: Poster page

U.S. Department of Labor: Frequently asked questions

J.J. Keller & Associates: Labor law frequently asked questions

NOLO: Which posters do employers have to post at the workplace in California? by Lisa Guerin

References

Author

Librarian, freelance researcher and nonprofit enthusiast