What is HR Compliance? [+Checklist to Get Started]

by Michael Gugel, CPO @ GoCo

Every firm needs to make sure they are compliant with the laws and standards set by the government, as well as, various industries. And every department in a company is responsible for adhering to said laws. In other words, they need to stay compliant. Similarly, HR compliance plays a major part in making sure that a company is being fair in its HR practices.

Staying up-to-date with the changing job industry standards is important, which is why HR compliance laws tend to be revised every year.

Proper compliance activities have an influence on employee development, retention, and hiring. It’s important to understand your objectives and your current growth strategy, since it will help you understand how compliance practices may impact decisions, or vice versa.

What is HR Compliance?

HR compliance is the development of procedures and policies that ensure you carry out fair practices according to law and regulations.

The objective of a firm is to find the compliance sweet spot, i.e. where you adhere to all laws and regulations while also making sure your firm’s human capital resources objectives are met.

As labor laws evolve, so does HR policy. Subsequently, the HR responsibilities also evolve, making it hard for HR professionals to keep up. That is why when HR leaders develop HR policies, there are a few things to always keep in mind:

  • Your business will be subject to audits from enforcing agencies. This may bring about penalties and fines for non-compliance.
  • Companies must follow all employment laws, including federal laws, state laws, and anti-discrimination laws.
  • Lack of knowledge of compliance obligations is not a legal defense.
  • Mitigating compliance risks can save your company from lawsuits and subsequent bankruptcy.

As regulatory mandates change, new compliance issues arise. That is why it’s important for companies to update their HR departments regularly, and vice versa.

Human Resources Compliance Checklist

To help you make sure you get most, if not all compliance practices right, here’s an HR compliance checklist.

Hiring Procedures

Your hiring procedures should include a proper process that includes offer letters, new hire paperwork, and contracts.

It should include all documents provided upon hiring, with an emphasis on Title VII, which deals with discrimination against employees for race, religion, sex, color, or national origin. Furthermore, you have to make sure that you’re keeping the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in mind, as well.

Recruiting and Interviewing

The checklist should also include details on the recruiting and interviewing process of new employees, along with information on the current job application and the job descriptions. This is a requirement for both large and small businesses.

There should be an emphasis on compliance with the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Furthermore, adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is equally as important.

It should also outline all interview procedures and questions, along with processes for checking references provided by potential hires.

Procedures and Policies

You should also keep a check on the company’s policies and procedures and the employee handbook. It’s best to check that your company is following all laws every once in a while.

To do so, make sure the following are taken care of at all times:

  • Health Insurance Benefits
  • COBRA and Unemployment Benefits
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Pregnancy Disability Benefits and Leave
  • Rehabilitation Services
  • Equal Pay
  • Drug and Alcohol-Free Workplace Specifications

You can also make sure other issues, like ergonomics problems, are being taken care of.

Employee Handbook

An employee handbook is extremely important because it outlines all company-related guidelines. It answers all questions related to things like employee benefits, overtime pay, training programs, etc.

The following are some of the must-have policies in your employee handbook.

  • There should be an Equal Employment Opportunity policy that follows all laws and regulations.
  • A cell phone policy should also be in place, with details regarding its usage during work hours. This can include texting and calling, using social media, taking pictures, setting it on vibrate, etc.
  • An internet usage policy should also be in place. This would include acceptable online behavior, language, and exposure. It may also include websites you have to avoid.
  • It should also include the dress code, detailing what kind of clothing, body accessories, and other products are acceptable.
  • The handbook should have details on the Fair Labor Standards Acts (FLSA). It establishes overtime, minimum wage, and child labor laws along with employee exemption and non-exemption.
  • It should include the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which details and sets the workplace safety standards and record-keeping compliance programs.
  • If the company is big enough, it would have to include the Affordable Care Act (ACA) details, too. It makes sure large companies offer affordable health care options to employees.
  • Another important addition is the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. It forbids any discrimination based on family medical history, genetic disposition, and past medical ailments.

Other acts like the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) should also be included. This ensures that any employee who leaves for military duty can get their job back for up to 5 years.

Sexual Harassment, Drugs, and Workplace Bullying

There should also be regular sexual harassment awareness and training programs. Furthermore, you need to keep a check on workplace bullying. As the number of employees increases, so does the risk of bullying.

There should be measures to report and deal with such behavior. You should also try to implement a drug-free workplace program.

I-9 Forms

The I-9 form is there to verify an employee’s eligibility to work for your company, so you should have an I-9 for every employee and contractor working for you.

Every time you hire a new employee, you need to fill out an I-9 form. You will have to analyze and record the verification documents provided. You need to copy these documents and attach them with the latest I-9 form.

DiSC Program

You have the right to implement a DiSC personality assessment program. It helps companies hire the best possible candidates by measuring certain characteristics.

The characteristics include the following:

  • Multitaskers
  • Detail-Oriented
  • People-Oriented
  • Hard-Working
  • Type A

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, companies should also send new hire reports to the state employment agency database.

Working Time and Paid Leave

Any time the employee is working for the company, it counts as working time. Employees have the right to be compensated for all working time, whether authorized or not. It can include time spent working from home, having meals, traveling, or working overtime.

Furthermore, the paid leave policy needs to be established and allowed, especially in states like New York where paid leave is mandatory in some cases.

Unemployment Benefits

HR compliance also includes providing unemployment benefits to people dismissed for performance reasons.

However, people dismissed in the probationary period (under 3 months) are not eligible to receive these benefits. Also, people who leave without cause or notice or who are dismissed for conduct reasons are also ineligible.

Management Training and Webinars

It’s important to provide regular management training to employees. This can be done through webinars, seminars, or old-fashioned classroom training programs.

The primary concerns to be addressed should include the following:

  • Performance appraisals and feedback
  • Managing and handling difficult employees
  • Counseling, dismissing, and helping employees
  • Training all employees in diversity and harassment

The purpose of management training isn’t to just help managers – the management is expected to provide the training they received to employees under them.

How GoCo Can Help

Every successful company will have one thing in common – complete HR compliance. Since employees are the most important part of a company, you need to make sure they’re satisfied and happy.

HR laws and regulations are there to make sure you don’t accidentally make a mistake. Following them makes sure you provide equal opportunity, good working environments, and appropriate compensation packages. All-in-One HR platforms like GoCo streamline the compliance process by digitally storing and organizing all essential documents for your entire team.

Even if you don’t have a dedicated human resources department, you can use GoCo to help manage employment eligibility, federal and state tax documents, benefit compliance, ACA compliance and PTO compliance. Take a tour today and never worry about HR compliance again.

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