Thursday, November 13, 2008

New changes in the FMLA mean new paperwork -- and lots of potential waste

Changes approved earlier in the year to the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)are expected to go into effect any day now*. The extensive clarifications will make many mandatory labor law posters obsolete. Human resource and labor law handbooks, manuals and forms will also need to be replaced with versions that reflect the changes.

That means potentially millions of sheets of paper and countless laminated (and therefore un-recyclable)labor law posters will be thrown away. Little if any of this material can or will be recycled, and little was on recycled paper to start with.

And this is not an isolated incidence. Every year, dozens of Federal and State regulations change, and with those changes, go waste. Lots of waste. In paper, in landfill space and in money. But the changes are mandatory! So what's a business owner to do? Here are a few suggestions for keeping your business in compliance without wrecking the earth:

1) Choose recycled (and recyclable)products. From labor law posters to file folders, there are recycled versions available. You just have to look.

2) Choose downloadable or printable versions of mandatory forms, then print them on recycled paper using soy or vegetable inks.

3) Only buy or print the forms and papers you really need. Stockpiling 500 I-9 or FMLA forms may save money on each sheet, but when the changes come and you need to replace them with a newer version long before you've run out, any savings evaporate.

4) Recycle obsolete books, manuals and forms rather than throwing them in the trash.

5) Choose non-laminated posters and other materials whenever possible. Laminated paper is generally not recyclable.

*(Information about changes in the FMLA will be posted on sites like G.Neil, ComplyRight and HRdirect as soon as they're finalized.)