Confession: The title is a teeny bit misleading.
There are tons of human resources and employment laws that your business should know about, especially when it comes to state laws and local laws. But we’ve decided to highlight some of the bigger HR rules and regulations you should definitely be aware of.
From small business owners, to seasoned entrepreneurs, we’ve broken down the regulations by employer size. The more employees you have, the more regulations you must comply with.
Let’s start with the ones that affect all employers. Note that these descriptions contain a brief overview of each law and is provided simply for education. If you have any questions regarding these laws, please reach out to a trusted advisor.
Consumer Credit Protection Act (CPPA)
This protects employees from discharge by their employers because their wages have been garnished for any one debt. It also limits the amount of an employee’s earning that may be garnished in any one week.
Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
This applies to most private employers and prohibits them from using lie detector tests for pre-employment screening or during employment.
Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
Disclaimer: This info is for employers other than governmental employers and certain church plans.
ERISA sets minimum standards for retirement and health benefit plans regarding standards of conduct, fiduciary rules, and reporting requirements to the government and plan participants. It does not require employers to establish a plan, but employers who do must meet certain standards.
Equal Pay Act (EPA)
This amended the FLSA (see below) to prohibit sex-based wage discrimination between workers in the same establishment who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, and responsibility under similar working conditions.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
Monitors employers’ use of consumer reports (background checks).
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
This federal law establishes federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and minors/child labor standards that affect full-time and part-time employees in the private sector as well as federal, state, and local governments. There’s a lot more that goes in to FLSA, so read more from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
Federal Income Tax Withholding (FITW)
This requires employers to withhold taxes on employee wages.
Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA)
This imposes taxes on employers and employees to fund Social Security and Medicare.
Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA)
Paid by employers, this federal unemployment tax provides for unemployment compensation to workers who lose their jobs (with state unemployment programs). Read more about FUTA on the IRS website.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
This provides for the portability of employees’ health care plans and protection of certain health care-related information. You can learn more about HIPAA at hhs.gov.
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
An anti-discrimination law that prohibits citizenship status or national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, recruitment, or referral for a fee; unfair documentation practices during the employment eligibility verification, Form I-9, and E-Verify processes; retaliation or intimidation. Learn more about the INA at uscis.gov.
Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)
This prohibits employers from consciously hiring unauthorized aliens or individuals without completing the employment verification process. This is the law that requires all U.S. employers to fill out a Form I-9.
National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
This guarantees the right of the employee to organize and bargain collectively with their employers and to engage in other protected concerted activities. Read more at nlrb.gov.
Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act (NMHPA)
This requires group health plans that offer maternity coverage to pay for at least a 48-hour hospital stay following childbirth. In the case of a Cesarean section, it would be 96-hour stay. Read more on NMHPA at cms.gov.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act)
Enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), this requires compliance with the act’s standards to provide employees with workplace safety, a work environment free from recognized hazards. Employers in specified low-risk industries are exempt.
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)
This requires employers to report new employees to state new hire directories for child support enforcement.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
This protects civilian job rights and benefits for veterans and members of reserve components. You can find out more details on USERRA at dol.gov.
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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – This prohibits discrimination against a qualified person with a disability and also requires employers to reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations. You’ll want to read more about the details of ADA at dol.gov.
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) – This prohibits discrimination against employees or applicants based on genetic information. That information includes: individual’s genetic tests (including his/her family members), disease, disorder, or condition of an individual’s family members. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains more on GINA at eeoc.gov.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) – This requires covered employers to treat women who are pregnant, have experienced childbirth, or related medical conditions in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability/inability to work. The EEOC has more on the PDA at eeoc.gov.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) – This prohibits discrimination against an individual in employment based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. Here’s more on Title VII.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) – This protects individuals aged 40 or older from employment discrimination based on age.
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) – This requires most group health plans to offer individuals who lost coverage due to certain events, the opportunity to continue coverage on a self-pay basis.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – This allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, but job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. It also requires that employees get a continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken time off on leave. More on FMLA at dol.gov.
Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) – This requires group health plans and health insurance issuers to ensure financial requirements and treatment limitations related to mental health or substance use disorder benefits are no more restrictive than the predominant requirements or limitations applied to substantially all medical or surgical benefits. Whew, that’s a mouthful. Read more on this one at cms.gov.