Taking the Guess Work out of Your HR Decisions

As I built the EffortlessHR platform – a Human Resource Information System – I kept being asked several questions:

  • Why do I need to …
  • Provide Military Leave
  • Include and post information on Harassment
  • Understand accommodation
  • And many other questions!!

What this really told me was that most small/mid-sized companies without an HR department had no idea how the number of their employees’ impact which law/regulation they needed to follow and understand.  So, I thought this might help take the guesswork out of your HR decisions – based on the number of employees required to be following certain significant Federal Laws.

For those companies with 1 or more employee(s):

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) –  Employers must properly classify and pay employees a corresponding minimum wage while following overtime and child labor standards. Defines exempt (not entitled to overtime) vs. non-exempt (entitled to overtime and scheduled breaks) employee restrictions.
  • Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA) – Employers may only hire those who can legally work in the United States and must maintain up-to-date I-9 forms for all employees.
  • Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) – Employers’ private pension and health plans must give participants information around plan features, funding, and responsibilities. One key ERISA amendment includes COBRA (see below).
  • Federal Income Tax Withholding – Employers must withhold and pay the federal government a set percentage of employee wages for the federal government.
  • Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) – Employers must withhold and pay the federal government a set percentage of employee wages for Social Security and Medicare.
  • Equal Pay Act (EPA) – Employers must pay male and female employees the same wage for the same job. One key amendment includes the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
  • Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) – Employers must permit employees to be absent from work for military duty and retain reemployment rights for up to five years, as well as make reasonable efforts to accommodate veterans’ disabilities.
  • National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – Employers cannot prohibit employees from or discipline them for forming or joining unions. One key amendment, the Labor Management Relations Act, grants employers an equal position in union-employee-employer disputes and outlines dispute procedures.  Also, the NLRA prohibits employers from denying employees the right to discuss salary or working conditions.
  • Uniform Guidelines for Employment Selection Procedures – Employers may not discriminate against employees or applicants based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) – Employers cannot use lie detector tests in pre-employment screening or during employment (with some exceptions).
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) – Public companies must follow set mandates to enhance corporate responsibility, combat fraud and provide financial disclosures.
  • Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) – Employers must follow employee wage garnishment requirements.
  • Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT) – Employers must carefully dispose of consumer credit information to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – Employers cannot receive health care information about employees from health care providers.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) – Employers must follow federally-set standards providing safe employment conditions, hazard communication, and personal protective equipment.

For those companies with 11 or more employees:

  • Recordkeeping, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) – Employers of this size must maintain records in compliance with OSHA, mentioned above.

For those companies with 15 or more employees:

  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA) – Employers may not discriminate against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities.
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) – Employers may not discriminate against employees or applicants based on genetic information (genetic risk factors, family medical history, disease susceptibility, etc.).
  • Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Title VII prohibits sexual harassment and other forms of sex discrimination in workplaces. Key expansions and amendments include the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

For those companies with 20 or more employees:

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) – Employers may not discriminate in hiring practices against workers age 40 and older.
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) – Employers must offer covered employees and their families the option to continue health insurance for 18-36 months after ceasing employment (duration depends on circumstances). Employees may be required to pay full insurance premiums.  (Note that some states provide COBRA coverage for smaller groups from 2-10 employees.  Check your state requirement or ask your insurance agent.)

For those companies with 50 or more employees:

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) – Employers of this size are classified as Applicable Large Employers (ALEs) under the ACA and must offer affordable health insurance options, as defined by the law, with strict recordkeeping requirements. Note that this mandate applies to 50+ “full-time equivalent” workers.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Employers must offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of an employee’s child or serious family illness.

For those companies with 100 or more employees:

  • Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act (WARN) – Employers must notify employees at least 60 calendar days in advance of workplace closings and mass layoffs.
  • EEO-1 Survey Filing (Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964) – In compliance with Title VII, employers must maintain diversity records for workplaces and individual employees. If the organization is a federal contractor, this threshold becomes 50+ employees.

There may be additional federal and state-specific laws that apply to your company, in your state, some of which may set forth different or conflicting obligations than those described above. Always double check to see if your state requirements are different.    It is important to note that the law/regulation that is most favorable to the employee is the one that must be followed.

Keep it simple and know what laws you need to follow and you should be in good shape!



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