WASHINGTON -- The Savings and Community Bankers of America is offering members free advice on complying with employment regulations regarding, for example, discrimination and sexual harassment.

The trade group has enlisted Orlando-based Seay Management Consultants Inc. to set up a hot line to answer bankers' questions. Letters announcing the first-of-its-kind service, went out to group members in May.

Bob Schmermund, the trade group's public affairs director, said some may forget that community banks are small businesses and are covered by the same rules as other companies.

Enforcing a Smoking Ban

The trade group expects bankers to call the hot line with questions about dismissing employees, banning smoking at work, docking an employee's pay for an unexcused absence, or firing an employee infected with the HIV virus, which causes AIDS.

Brian Smith, the trade group's director of policy development, said bankers have many questions about human resources compliance issues, especially the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Mr. Smith is also president of Management Services Inc., a unit of the trade group that acts as a holding company for its for-profit activities.

As of July 1, the Americans with Disabilities Act will apply to businesses of 15 or more employees, a reduction from the current standardof 25 or more. That will expand compliance obligations to many banks.

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