5 Steps for Staying HR Compliant

Becoming complacent with the small HR tasks can leave your businesses vulnerable to state and federal penalties. Here is a list of ways to help you be pro-active to keeping your business HR complaint.

1. Check your poster wall

Every employer is required to have a poster titled “Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law” that summarizes the Federal laws prohibiting job discrimination and the procedures for filing complaints of violations with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

The poster should hang in a location where employees and applicants can easily see it. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires the poster to be available in an area that is accessible to applicants and employees with disabilities that limit mobility. Also, posting an electronic version on your internal web will give additional access for employees with disabilities or who work remotely and do not visit the workplace regularly. Consider adding a recording or audio file on the interweb for persons with disabilities that limit their ability to see or read.

2. Keep up with recordkeeping

An employee’s personnel file is an easy place to fall out of compliance. The best practice is to check every 3 months that the following forms are in each employee’s personnel file.

  • Offer letter
  • Employee name
  • Phone number – current
  • Email address
  • Home address – current
  • Emergency contact info
  • Employment agreement
  • Job title
  • Supervisor
  • Job description
  • Wage theft notification – at time of hire indicates their wage and terms of employment
  • Payroll tax Information
  • W-4 Federal tax withholding Form complete
  • W-4 State tax withholding Form complete
  • Employee I-9 Form
  • Direct Deposit Form
  • Job-related performance reviews
  • Disciplinary Action Notices
  • Requests for time off
  • Insurance or benefits
  • At-will Agreement
  • Waiver of meal break form
  • Signed confirmation of the employee handbook
  • Official disciplinary documentation
  • Performance reviews

Confidentiality of records is another potential violation. Files with your employees personal information such as medical records, financial information, social security numbers, background checks, drug test, credit reports, and investigation documentation must be kept in a secured filing cabinet.

Knowing the length of time to maintain and keep records isn’t always easy to decipher. Best practice is a minimum of three years but make sure to check state and federal requirements before shredding any payroll records, including wage deductions, or personnel files.

3. Review polices and procedures and job descriptions

Laws change every year and making sure the policies in your employee handbook reflect the changes is imperative and an easy thing to forget to do. Job descriptions also need to be reviewed and revised once a year to include any changes or innovations that have occurred.

Remember to train your employees on any updates that occur in the employee handbook or individual job descriptions.

4. Classify workers properly

Misclassification of workers can come with hefty fines that can be avoided with a little due diligence.

  • Independent contractor vs. employee. For the employee, the company withholds income tax, Social Security, and Medicare from wages paid. For the independent contractor, the company does not withhold taxes. Employment and labor laws also do not apply to independent contractors.
  • Exempt vs. non-exempt. A non-exempt employee is entitled to overtime pay through the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) whereas an exempt employee is not.

5. Stay on top of notice requirements

Notice requirements can sneak up on you if you are not proactive at scheduling reminders to help you remain compliant.

  • Summary Plan Description is a document that employers must give to employees who participate in Employee Retirement Income Security Act – covered retirement plans or health benefit plans. The SPD is a detailed guide to what benefits the plan provides and how it works. You are responsible for distributing the SPD to new employees within 90 days of hire

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires specific notices for covered employees and their families to notify them of their rights, how COBRA continuation coverage is offered, how qualified beneficiaries may elect continuation coverage, and when it can be terminated.

  • COBRA General Notice – Group health plans must give each employee and each spouse of an employee who becomes covered under the plan a general notice describing COBRA rights within the first 90 days of coverage.
  • COBRA Election Notice – If an employee notifies the plan of a “qualifying event,” (divorce, legal separation, or loss of dependent status) the qualified beneficiaries must receive an election notice within 14 days after the plan administrator receives the notification of the event.
  • COBRA Notice of Unavailability of Continuation Coverage: If an employee requests continuation and is denied coverage – they must receive a notice within 14 days after the request is received, with an explanation of the reason for the rejection.
  • COBRA Notice of Early Termination of Continuation Coverage – If COBRA is terminated, a notice must be given as soon as the decision is made. It must describe the reason for termination, the date coverage it will terminate, and any rights the qualified beneficiary may have under the plan.


These five steps do not cover the extensive list required to stay in compliance with the HR laws, but it does show you how important it is to stay organized, aware and pro-active with routine scheduling of inspections in all these areas.

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