There are numerous federal, state, and local laws that employers are obligated to comply with in order to protect their business and employees. In many cases, a business’s human resources (HR) team is the entity responsible for ensuring that those laws are complied with. From guaranteeing health care to preventing discriminatory practices, HR departments can have a lot on their plate. In this article, we breakdown some of the laws and regulations that every HR professional should know.

What are the most important HR laws and mandates?

There are a number of laws HR professionals should be aware of that relate to employee benefits, workplace safety, workplace discrimination, wages, and work hours – which are equally important.

  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Together, these two laws limit the workweek to 40 hours and provide employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave. These laws also provide regulations regarding overtime pay and establish child labor laws.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act. As the name suggests, this law prohibits employers from firing, demoting, or otherwise limiting employment opportunities for an individual based solely upon their age.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act. This comprehensive law ensures that workplace environments are safe for employees and establish rights to compensation if an employee is injured on the job.
  • Health Coverage. There are several laws that require employers to purchase health coverage and ensure other benefits for their employees, including the Affordable Care Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Together, these laws ensure employees have access to healthcare, insurance opportunities and retirement programs.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Laws. These laws prohibit employer discrimination based on an individual’s race, religion, sex, gender, or nationality when making decisions about hiring, firing, or implementing other employment-related policies or decisions.

What should every HR professional know about compliance laws?

Failure to maintain compliance with any of the laws listed above can result in penalties against the employer or can even result in the employee bringing a lawsuit against the employer for damages. Compliance with various employment laws can take on a variety of forms, such as providing proof of insurance, submitting reports or taking timely action upon identifying a law that is not being complied with. As a result, it is essential for every HR professional to not only know what conduct is required in order to ensure that a law is complied with, but also to know how to demonstrate compliance and keep appropriate records to protect a business. Staying on top of compliance laws and their requirements can help prevent problems well before they arise and ultimately ensure every employee’s safety and security within the company.

What is a HR legal compliance program?

Legal compliance defines the process by which a business – and the employees working for that business – ensure that state and federal regulations are followed. Most HR departments accomplish this by developing a legal compliance program that allows them to check business policies and procedures and confirm they comply with government mandates. For example, a legal compliance program might require that employees be trained to recognize and report any discriminatory activity that does not align with Equal Employment Opportunity Laws, and then create a process by which reported discriminatory behavior is addressed within the company. Such a process helps employers stay aware of behaviors that violate workplace mandates and ensure legal compliance.

What areas of employment do HR laws and policies cover?

HR laws and policies cover a wide spectrum of areas, including:

  • Work hours and schedules
  • Paid and unpaid time off
  • Discrimination based on race, religion, nationality, gender or sex
  • Medical leave or disability
  • Discrimination based on disability
  • Workplace injuries
  • Insurance and access to health care
  • Discrimination based on wage
  • Workplace safety
  • Employee training and prevention
  • Ensuring compliance and reporting
  • Investigating claims and facilitating responses

How can MBM assist your company with HR Laws, regulations and mandates?

It can be incredibly challenging for human resource professionals to stay apprised of changes in laws and adapting policies that ensure compliance. At MBM law, our Human Resources Compliance & Strategic Counseling group can help your HR team develop a compliance program that not only protects your business, but also the employees who work within it.

Michael Brungo

Michael L. Brungo is a partner with MBM and has 35 years of experience working with businesses, corporations, and public entities with their personnel and employment issues. He is available to help with any type of employment-related legal matter.