Compliance Checklist: Federal Employment Laws You Need To Know At Every Stage Of Your Company’s Growth

Whether you’re hiring your 15th or 100th team member, learn the major federal laws you’ll need to follow as soon as you cross certain employee thresholds.

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With a fast-growing small business, compliance is just one of many things on your to-do list, behind hiring, improving operations, and fine-tuning your products. Here’s a quick checklist of some major federal laws you’ll need to tackle at different employee thresholds in your growth.

1+ Employee

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), via DoL
    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), via DoL
    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, via IRS
    Employers must withhold and pay the federal government a set percentage of employee wages for the federal government.
  • Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA), via IRS
    Employers must withhold and pay the federal government a set percentage of employee wages for Social Security and Medicare.
  • Equal Pay Act (EPA), via EEOC
    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),via NLRB
    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.
  • Uniform Guidelines for Employment Selection Procedures, via EEOC
    Employers may not discriminate against employees or applicants on the basis of 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), via SEC
    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), via Federal Register
    Employers must carefully dispose of consumer credit information to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), via HHS
    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.

11+ Employees

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

15+ Employees

  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA), via DoL
    Employers may not discriminate against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities.
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), via EEOC
    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, via EEOC
    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.
  • Ready for an easier solution to the ever-changing employment laws? Check out our Compliance Assistant

20+ Employees

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), via EEOC
    Employers may not discriminate in hiring practices against workers age 40 and older.
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), via DoL
    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.

50+ Employees

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA),via HHS
    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. We’ve deciphered the ACA for you here.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), via DoL
    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.
  • Affirmative Action Program (AAP), via DoL
    Employers must create programs to actively recruit and train minorities, women, disabled persons and covered veterans, with accompanying recordkeeping requirements.
  • Learn more about managing ACA compliance

100+ 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), via EEOC
    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.

    Employers with federal contracts, any size

    Employers of all sizes with federal contracts have additional compliance requirements and modified thresholds mandated by laws not outlined above, including:

    • Davis-Bacon Act
    • Drug Free Workplace Act
    • Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA)
    • McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA)
    • Executive Order 11246
    • Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act
    • Vocational Rehabilitation Act
    • Walsh-Healy Act
    • Copeland Act

    Unsure of how to easily keep up with diverse record keeping requirements? Learn how Zenefits can help you stay compliant at every size, from all-in-one ACA help to COBRA administration and beyond. See how it works today.
    This article was originally published on September 7th, 2015.

    There may be additional state-specific laws that apply to businesses in your state, some of which may set forth different or conflicting obligations than those described above. The information in this blog serves as a basic guideline and is for informational purposes only. While our goal is always to provide useful content, we are unable to provide legal, tax, or fact-specific human resources advice and encourage you to speak with your legal counsel, tax advisor, or human resources professional to understand how this information applies to you.

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