HR Compliance: How to Protect Your Business and Employees

Aug 28, 2017
| Matthew Ponticelli
HR Compliance and Risk Management

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), human resources can be an extremely stressful part of a company. When you factor in everything that HR is responsible for, you can understand why. This is especially true for SMBs that lack the resources necessary to properly execute an HR strategy.

Most people are familiar with the more common responsibilities of an HR team – hiring and training new employees, learning and development within the organization, and handling payroll and employee benefits, to name a few. But perhaps the most important thing human resources does is keep the organization compliant.

In today’s business world, HR compliance is more complex than ever. There have been significant changes in HR and employment law at every level of government (federal, state, and local), which have had wide-ranging impacts for businesses. Staying compliant is a must for every organization, no matter how many changes continue to take place.

As a business owner, leader, or human resources executive, there are several ways to stay ahead of the curve and have proactive HR compliance strategies. Some may be more challenging than others, but they are all incredibly important for your business.
 

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Compliance

When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, it greatly complicated HR compliance. In the years since the law took effect, companies have been getting more and more comfortable with the law and how to stay compliant with it. However, with all the uncertainty surrounding the ACA, business leaders are once again facing challenges.

Keeping track of the ongoing discussions surrounding the Affordable Care Act will help you plan accordingly should any changes occur. In the meantime, until any changes do happen and are announced, all ACA laws are still in effect. This means that staying ACA compliant is a must for all businesses.
 

I-9 Verification

Hiring new and talented employees is crucial to business growth. Staying HR compliant during this process is just as important. The I-9 form is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of those hired for employment in the United States.

All U.S. companies must properly complete the I-9 verification form for every employee they hire. Failure to do so can have a wide range of negative impacts for both an employer and the employee. By ensuring that everyone – employees and the employer – correctly and completely fill out the form, business leaders reduce the risk of running into any I-9 compliance issues. Failure to accurately complete and report I-9 verification forms can lead to severe fines and penalties for employers.
 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Planning

The mission of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to ensure safe and healthy working conditions. To do so, OSHA sets and enforces certain standards that employers must meet to be compliant. Luckily, there are many resources available to help with HR compliance issues surrounding OSHA, including how to address any challenges should they arise.
 

Providing Employees Policies and Notices

There are numerous laws that require employers to communicate to employees their workplace rights and proper conduct. While there are many ways organizations can do this, the best is to create an employee handbook.

Providing handbooks to employees is a great way to notify them of workplace policies and to provide certain written documentation to employees as required by law. Make sure that handbooks are easily accessible to your workforce, either by handing out physical copies or keeping them on a company intranet site.
 

Leave of Absence Plans and Management

One of the bigger trends in HR over the last few years has been the increased awareness and expectations of employee leave. Today, there are many federal and even state-specific laws that impact a wide variety of leave of absence compliance – Family Medical Leave Act, maternity/paternity, bereavement, military service, jury duty, and company-specific programs.

Especially when it comes to parental leave, the expectations of employees are rising significantly and more laws are being signed to address these important issues. Having a clear strategy and the necessary tools to track and account for employee leave time is a must for companies to stay compliant. This is even more true for companies that choose to implement their own leave programs.
 

Stay on Top of Federal, State, and Local HR Law Changes

We have already mentioned the need to stay up-to-date on the Affordable Care Act, but this also holds true for other HR and employment law news. Significant changes to state and local HR laws happen more often than you might think. Minimum wage increases, mandatory sick leave and extension of employee protections to non-employees, and safety regulations are some of the top nationwide trends that every company needs to stay on top of.

Change and uncertainty can be a scary thought when it comes to HR compliance. Employers and business leaders who routinely keep up with relevant news, consult with any necessary experts, and plan accordingly can create HR compliance strategies that protect their business and employees.
 

The Importance of a Robust and Proactive HR Compliance Strategy

One of the things that separates great companies from good companies is having well thought-out business plans and strategies. This is no different when it comes to staying compliant with HR laws. Leaders who are proactive and plan ahead can greatly reduce the risks associated with HR and maintain compliance across all the different aspects of employment related law.

Another valuable tool available for SMB leaders is HR compliance experts. If you are unsure about something related to risk, remaining compliant, or changing HR regulations, do not be afraid to reach out to risk management and compliance leaders. They are there to assist with any questions or concerns you may have, and to make recommendations for how to handle issues that have or may arise.

Employment and HR compliance impacts all companies – from Fortune 500 organizations to SMBs. Staying up-to-date with news and laws at each level of government is critical in remaining compliant and achieving business success. Don’t let HR compliance issues hold your company back.
 
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