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9 min read

HR Compliance Checklist – What You Need to Know

HR Compliance Checklist – What You Need to Know

The regulatory landscape regarding HR matters continues to evolve and become more complex. However, this doesn’t mean that HR executives or company leaders can take their foot off the gas when it comes to staying compliant and keeping their processes up-to-date with new regulations. 

Staying current on regulatory FLSA changes can feel like a full-time job on its own. But, prioritizing HR compliance keeps the workplace safe and equitable for employees, and helps the company uphold its reputation and avoid harsh fines or penalties. 

Continue reading through this article as we dive deeper into what HR compliance looks like, what key regulations HR professionals need to be aware of, and provide you with a helpful HR compliance checklist to help ensure your internal practices and policies adhere to the relevant laws and industry guidelines. 

 

What is HR Compliance?

HR compliance refers to the ability of an organization to adhere to relevant labor laws and regulations. Such policies and regulations can be imposed by government agencies, regulatory bodies, and legislation at the local, state, or federal level. 

HR leaders play an important role in keeping the business compliant. They must regularly monitor and review changes in legislation that relate to labor laws, and oversee any updates to internal workflows and processes to remain compliant with new industry standards. 

In addition, they must audit their internal practices on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance and alignment with existing regulations. As such, HR compliance is an iterative and ever-changing process.

 

Legal Consequences of Non-Compliance

When a company fails to update its HR practices to comply with new industry standards or policies, it could face potential legal ramifications and fines, in addition to other serious consequences. 

Depending on the nature of the incident, the frequency, and other factors, regulatory bodies could impose certain fines and penalties on a business as a consequence. For more severe incidents, the company could open itself up to legal disputes or lawsuits. 

Further, the business may damage its reputation as an employer, leading to high employee turnover and low morale among those that remain. As such, legal compliance in HR is a key factor that keeps the business running smoothly and offering a safe place to work. 

 

Important Laws to Know for HR Compliance

There are a number of key laws and regulations that have shaped the workplace and the HR field as we know it. To achieve HR compliance in 2023, here are some of the applicable labor laws in the US that every HR professional needs to know.

Anti-Discrimination & Harassment Laws

Various laws exist to help protect certain classes of individuals from discrimination and harassment while on the job. 

In general, these laws protect against discrimination based on age, race, sex, disability, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, or religion. 

Some of the relevant laws that fall under this category include: 

These laws typically apply at all stages of employment, including pre-hiring, interviewing, employment, promotions, compensation, and rightful termination. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act also included workplace harassment as a form of discrimination, which was further protected under subsequent legislation. 

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidelines

Intertwined with anti-discrimination laws are guidelines set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws, which apply to most employers with more than 15 employees, in addition to most labor unions and employment agencies. 

Outside of the federal anti-discrimination laws listed above, the EEOC enforces relevant regulations, EEOC sub-regulatory guidance, commission decisions, and more as they relate to workplace discrimination. 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) entitles employees to safe working conditions. This law is enforced and overseen by a specialized division of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also referred to as OSHA. 

OSHA regulations are meant to help curtail preventable injuries, illnesses, and even deaths that occur while on the job. 

Some of the most commonly-cited OSHA standards that arise in workplace inspections include: 

  • Fall protection
  • Respiratory protection
  • Ladders safety
  • Eye and face protection

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ensures eligible employees receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for applicable family and medical reasons. This protects their healthcare coverage and job security over this period. 

As of 2010, certain amendments were made to this law to provide additional protections and flexibility to active-duty military and veterans. 

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

As we briefly mentioned above, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers discrimination protection to those with disabilities. This law provides protections for people with disabilities both on and off the job.  

Specifically, Title I of the ADA protects private, state, and local employees from discrimination in any aspect of employment–from pre-hiring to hiring, compensation, training, job assignment, and more. 

This act also applies to employees or applicants who may not have a disability themselves, but have a relationship or association with someone with a disability. 

Further, employers must offer ‘reasonable accommodations’ in the work environment to permit the employee or applicant with a disability to participate in the application process, perform essential job functions, and more. This can include: 

  • Acquiring or modifying equipment and devices
  • Offering readers or interpreters
  • Modified work schedules
  • Job restructuring

Privacy Laws

Privacy rights for employees exist across the board. But, certain jurisdictions have also enacted their own privacy laws that employers may need to be aware of. Such laws include: 

In general, employee privacy rights limit the extent that an employer can search employees’ person or possessions, monitor their activity and communications, and more. 

Wage and Hour Laws

The U.S. Department of Labor regulates certain laws related to employees’ hours and wages. Namely, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) protects a number of employees’ rights, including: 

  • The 40-hour workweek
  • The national minimum wage
  • Overtime pay
  • Child labor regulations

 

Your Checklist to Avoid Common HR Compliance Issues

To help you stay on top of labor laws and regulations, we’ve created an HR compliance checklist as a comprehensive resource. Since labor-related legislation and guidelines are constantly evolving, it’s important to regularly audit and review your practices to ensure you’re staying compliant and adhering to any regulatory changes. 

1. Hiring and Recruitment Compliance

Frequently run through your hiring and recruitment processes and materials to make sure they’re compliant with labor laws. 

As we discussed above, many laws, like those related to discrimination, are applicable even during the pre-hiring process. This means companies could be liable for actions before they’ve even interacted with the candidate, like if the job listing was written with discriminatory or preferential language. 

Audit your hiring practices to ensure they are fair, and try to avoid anything that may open you up to accusations of discrimination. On your applications, job description and other hiring materials, make sure you state that the company operates in compliance with ADA and Equal Employment laws. 

Further, make sure you are making proper use of background checks and not abusing them or using them unfairly. Plus, you’ll want to avoid using any interview questions for new hires that could be deemed inappropriate under anti-discrimination laws. 

2. Wage and Hour Compliance

To stay compliant with wage and hour laws, make sure all employees are properly classified as exempt or non-exempt to avoid possible fines and penalties down the road. These classifications should be made according to the legal guidelines, not just what status is viewed as most favorable to the company. 

You should also review your overtime calculations and payment structures to ensure FSLA compliance, including minimum wage requirements in your city or state if they differ from the federal level. 

3. Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Compliance

HR leaders are responsible for taking action to prevent discrimination across the entire employment life cycle. As we’ve discussed throughout, this includes hiring activities, promotions, and terminations. 

Reflect on how you could create a more safe and inclusive workplace that not only promotes HR compliance but also the safety and well-being of your employees. This may include altering existing practices or introducing new policies to be better aligned with regulations. 

With this, make sure you have adequate processes and effort that goes into handling all employee complaints of harassment and discrimination, and that reasonable investigations ensue afterward. This means that employees are aware of what constitutes harassment, and how they can file a complaint with HR if necessary. 

4. Employee Benefits Compliance

HR professionals should review their benefits and compensation packages to ensure they meet the standards laid out in certain healthcare laws like the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The company should: 

  • Provide employees a summary of benefits and coverage during open enrollment
  • Offer information about the health insurance marketplace (Healthcare.gov)
  • Send out Forms 1094-C and 1095-C by the proper deadlines each year

More specifically, be aware that if you have more than 50 employees, you must offer minimum essential health care coverage to full-time employees. 

In this vein, you should also ensure retirement plan compliance. As such, review 401(k) regulations and responsibilities of employers, in addition to the standards of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Also take the time to assess internal policies related to paid and unpaid time off and leave, which would be enforceable under FMLA. 

5. Privacy and Data Protection Compliance

Employers can typically collect and retain employee records either digitally or physically. But, they must make reasonable efforts to safeguard employee data and privacy in accordance with data security laws. With this, you should request and retain documentation of employee consent on your data handling practices and what you plan on doing with their information. 

Make sure you have guidelines in place for dealing with potential data breaches, including how you’ll inform employees in the case of the breach.  

6. Recordkeeping and Documentation Compliance

HR compliance involves the proper documentation of employee policies and procedures. HR should clearly lay out all employment policies and practices, and make them transparent and easily accessible to all employees throughout their employment life cycle. Most of the time, this can be offered in the form of an employee handbook that is distributed to all employees. It should be easy to navigate and understand. 

Make it clear to employees how they can report any incidents of non-compliance with labor laws to show that you’re dedicated to protecting their safety on the job. If you update the employee handbook, make sure all employees receive a new copy and are aware of the changes that have been made. 

There are also certain guidelines related to how long companies need to retain employee documentation and files, and how they should be properly disposed of upon termination. Review what these guidelines are, and create a proper document lifecycle management process to adhere to these laws. 

7. Workplace Safety and Health Compliance

Employees must receive proper job safety and training under OSHA. Review these materials frequently to keep them up-to-date with current laws and regulations, and include your dedication to workplace safety in all employee handbooks. 

Perform regular audits and inspections to ensure workplace practices are aligned with OSHA standards. Inform employees of how they can file any official OSHA violations if necessary. 

Employers are required to maintain proper safety records and report any workplace injuries and illnesses to OSHA each year with OSHA Form 301. Make this form easily available to all employees in the case of an accident, incident, or illness on the job. 

8. Immigration Compliance

To stay compliant with immigration laws, always follow the proper employment eligibility procedures. Collect a Form I-9 from all applicable employees and review the form and proof of identity documentation within three days of their employment starting. The company must securely store all I-9 forms and have them readily on hand for future reference in a potential audit. 

If a company sponsors work visas for foreign workers, it must understand all government requirements and compliance obligations to avoid entering legal trouble, fines, or penalties.

9. Payroll and Tax Compliance

HR officers need to make sure the company is staying compliant with relevant payroll laws and regulations. This involves the proper handling of employee taxes and deductions, as well as reporting and remitting payroll taxes, which are strictly regulated by law. Depending on where the company is located and operates, you may need to do so for local, state, and federal taxes.  

To ensure HR compliance, the company needs to accurately withhold taxes from employee paychecks, and make the proper payments to the local, state, and US government on behalf of the employee. Proper handling of payroll taxes will help the company avoid any serious tax law violations. 

Staying Up to Date HR Laws That Change Most Frequently

HR laws and regulations are subject to change, but some receive updates and amendments more frequently than others. It is the responsibility of HR leaders to monitor such changes and respond accordingly through internal policy changes. 

As public sentiment evolves, non-labor-related legislation gets passed, and technological advancement continues, new labor laws will emerge and existing ones will be amended to reinforce employee protections on the job. 

As a result, HR professionals will want to regularly monitor the following labor matters, as legislation is frequently enacted or is currently underway on these matters: 

  • Local/state/federal minimum wage laws 
  • Pay transparency on job postings
  • COVID-19-related regulations
  • Cannabis use protection
  • Stricter OSHA penalties
  • Pregnant workers’ rights
  • Criminal background checks

 

Using Paypro to automate HR compliance, you can easily interpret and react to new labor legislation and changing industry regulations to stay compliant and up-to-date. 

Wrapping up Our Discussion on HR Compliance

Maintaining an up-to-date HR compliance manual is not just a convenient resource for companies–it’s a necessary tool to help you keep labor practices up-to-date and compliant with industry standards. 

With the state of labor legislation constantly in flux, HR professionals need to be agile and ready to adapt to the changing landscape to uphold workers’ rights and keep their company from violating any labor laws. Using the above HR compliance checklist, as well as creating your own internal resources, you can stay on top of new regulations and be proactive with how your company responds to changing laws. 

HR leaders can use the following to monitor changes in labor laws and be the first to know when there’s been a new development: 

With Paypro, companies can automate their HR compliance efforts to seamlessly update their processes as new legislation is enacted. This removes the ambiguity and confusion that can arise when new, complex legislation is passed. Instead, companies can benefit from our team of experts and robust technological solutions that scan for new regulations and help you interpret what this means for your company. 

Set up a demo with Paypro to see how you can streamline your HR compliance efforts today. 
 

About the Author

Kayla is the Marketing Manager at Paypro Corporation overseeing all inbound and outbound marketing and sales efforts. She has 7+ years of experience working within the B2B and SaaS based solutions space and thrives on creating messaging and campaigns that introduce products and services to those who need them most.

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