The human resources department has a number of compliance responsibilities under which it has to take care of various laws and regulations, both at local and national levels. Needless to mention, compliance has always been a complex area, having multilayered issues and challenges, and with the governments at various levels becoming more and more stringent about the enforcement of the laws, the HR department needs to be even more informed and skilled. Also, the laws and regulations, today, keep changing frequently and the HR professionals often find it difficult to keep up. Compliance in an organization covers a number of subjects like compensation, training programs, management practices, employee behavior and more. The HR department acts as the front line of defense for any company, and is responsible for ensuring that the employees are treated fairly, they are taken care of and the business complies with all the regulations. Also, a weak compliance program can bring significant legal risks to the business.
Take a look at the major areas that the Human Resources department needs to take care of in order to ensure that the business is in full compliance with all the laws and regulations.
- Employee Wellness and Safety
Employee wellness is an important compliance issue. Benefits received by the employees under this varies with the state and organization and are governed by regulations like the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Affordable Care Act and more. Employee safety is also of paramount importance, especially for employees working in factories and remote sites. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was enacted so that the organizations maintain safety protocols and records.
- Compensation Compliance
Complying with wage and hour laws includes overseeing meal and break times, overtime, minimum wage, hours worked and more. Staying updated with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is important to manage such issues. However, different states have different laws governing wage and hour issues. HR professionals need to consider the individual jurisdictions and changing laws to ensure compliance.
- Anti-Discrimination Laws
Anti-discrimination laws are enforced to prevent discrimination of employees on the basis of race, ethnicity, age, gender, disability and veteran status. Such laws prohibit an employer from making biased decisions based on these factors. Some of the prominent laws in this area include the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), etc.
- Immigration Laws
It’s important for organizations to ensure that they only hire candidates who are eligible for working in the U.S. such as citizens, lawful permanent residents, noncitizen nationals and aliens authorized to work. Verifying the eligibility criteria of the candidates through proper documentation is important. Various laws regarding candidate eligibility include the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), etc.
- Union Laws
Even if your organization isn’t unionized, you must keep up with the laws and regulations under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Many employers have faced allegations regarding workers’ right to work together and the employees have aired their grievances through social media. Over the past years, there has been a significant expansion of laws to protect the employees and empower the unions. HR leaders must stay tuned with the updates to avoid allegations and lawsuits from employees.
- Employee Benefits
There are several benefits that an organization must provide to the employees, including leave policies, retirement plans and more. The common laws governing this area include the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and more. The HR department needs to ensure that the organization is providing all the mandatory benefits to the employees and is in compliance with the laws.
- Anti-Harassment Laws
To succeed in this highly competitive market and build a good brand, it’s important that the HR department creates an inclusive work culture that is free from harassment and negativity. Anti-harassment policies need to be in place, regardless of the industry type, and workplace investigation methodologies and consequences of harassment should be clearly mentioned and communicated. Instances of harassment, if left unchecked, could lead the organization to legal trouble. Make sure that the policies are aligned with the laws and the work culture is transparent and secure so that people don’t hesitate about expressing their concerns and issues.
Although the HR leaders are not experts in all of the mentioned areas, it’s important for them to identify the issues and delegate responsibilities to different departments. Coordinating with different departments and ensuring that they are maintaining compliance in their respective areas will help the HR department support the organization in operating smoothly.