Employee Poster Laws for Small Businesses

Are you displaying and updating the right employee posters at your business?

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A list of commonly required workplace posters — and the employers who need to post them

Your employees have certain legal rights in the workplace — and it’s your job to keep them up to speed.

As a small employer, you must inform your employees of their employment rights by displaying  posters in the workplace. Some posters must be provided to job applicants as well.

However, which posters you should display might not be readily apparent — because workplace posters are regulated by federal, state, and local governments. Additionally, each poster has its own criteria, including which employers should comply.

You must not only display the right posters but also update them to reflect relevant changes in the law. (It’s not uncommon for employers to display posters, but then neglect to update them when mandatory changes occur.) Failure to post and update posters may trigger penalties, which can be stringent, depending on the type of poster.

To help you stay in compliance, we prepared a list of commonly required workplace posters and the private sector employers who are required to post.

Federal Workplace Posters

Type of Poster Purpose Who Must Post
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Minimum Wage The FLSA establishes federal minimum wage, overtime, child labor, and recordkeeping laws. The FLSA Minimum Wage poster informs employees of their rights under the FLSA. All employers with employees who are subject to the FLSA. Note: The vast majority of businesses (large and small) in the United States must comply with the FLSA.
Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law!, Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) OSHA sets minimum standards that employers must meet to ensure a safe and healthful workplace. The Job Safety and Health poster informs employees of their rights under OSHA. All employers who are covered by OHSA. Only a few employers are exempt from these standards.
Employee Rights Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) The FMLA offers covered employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for eligible reasons, such as to care for their newborn or a family member who has a qualifying health condition. The FMLA poster informs employees of their right to FMLA leave. Employers with 50 or more employees who work within a 75-mile radius of the employer’s business location.
Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law, (EEO) Federal EEO laws prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, pay, disability, and genetic information. The EEO poster summarizes employees’ rights under federal EEO laws. Employers with 15 or more employees.
Employee Rights for Workers with Disabilities Paid at Special Minimum Wages Employers can pay less than the federal minimum wage (also called “subminimum wage”) to disabled employees, if they receive certification/authorization from the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division. The Special Minimum Wages poster informs disabled employees of their rights when paid at the subminimum wage. Employers who have disabled employees who are working under DOL subminimum wage certificates.
Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) Forbids employers from requiring job applicants and employees to take lie detector tests. There are limited exemptions to this rule — such as certain job applicants of security service firms or certain employees who are reasonably suspected of engaging in specific workplace incidents (e.g., theft or embezzlement). The EPPA poster informs employees of their rights under the EPPA. All employers who are subject to the EPPA.
Your Rights Under USERRA, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act The USERRA protects service members’ right to reemployment upon returning from active duty, and forbids employers from discriminating on the basis of military service. The USERRA poster informs service members of their rights under the USERRA. All employers must comply with the USERRA. The poster text must be provided to each individual entitled to rights under the USERRA.
Affordable Care Act (ACA) Employers must inform employees about the Health Insurance Marketplace and their health insurance options. Technically, this information is presented as a written notice, rather than an actual poster. All employers, regardless of whether they offer health insurance.
E-Verify Participation Informs employees that the employer uses the federal E-Verify program to verify their right to work in the U.S. All employers participating in the federal E-Verify program.
E-Verify Right to Work Notifies legal immigrants of their right to work in the U.S., and that employers should not discriminate against them based on their citizenship or immigration status. All employers participating in the federal E-Verify program.

To determine your federal poster responsibilities, consider using the DOL’s FirstStep Poster Advisor.

State and local workplace posters

These vary widely by state and local jurisdiction. Depending on where your employees work and where your business is located, you may need to display one or a combination of the following posters:

  • State minimum wage
  • Overtime pay
  • Wage orders that regulate wages, hours, and working conditions
  • Child labor
  • Equal pay for equal work
  • Paid sick leave
  • Family and medical leave
  • Mandatory benefits
  • Vacation time
  • Rest and meal breaks
  • Drug testing
  • Immigration and verifying employment eligibility
  • Discrimination and harassment
  • New hire reporting
  • Payday notice
  • Workplace safety and health protection
  • No smoking
  • List of emergency responder phone numbers
  • Notice of workers’ compensation coverage
  • Unemployment insurance for employees
  • Whistleblower protections
  • Electronic monitoring
  • Arrests and convictions
  • Personal information protection

Contact the state labor department for your state and local poster obligations. Even if there are no local poster requirements, you likely have responsibilities under state law.

Contact the state labor department for your state and local poster obligations. Even if there are no local poster requirements, you likely have responsibilities under state law.

Poster penalties

Not every poster has penalties for failure to display or update the poster — but many do. The penalties for noncompliance vary by poster, and may be adjusted yearly for inflation.

For example, in a final rule published on January 14, 2021, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) lists new maximum fines for the following posters:

  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act Poster maximum fine = $21,663
  • Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law! Poster maximum fine = $13,653
  • Family and Medical Leave Act Poster maximum fine = $178

Posting for onsite and remote employees

Now that you have some idea of the posters your small business may be subject to (along with potential penalties for noncompliance), how do you distribute the posters to employees?

Onsite employees and job applicants

You must display the posters in a conspicuous area of the workplace, where they are easily visible to the intended recipients — such as in the breakroom and lobby area.

Remote employees

For remote employees, posting can be done electronically via email or the company intranet, so long as employees can easily access the information.

Electronic posting has many gray areas, especially when it comes to employers with a full remote workforce versus those with both onsite and remote employees. To help clarify matters, the DOL provided guidance via Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2020-7. The bulletin addresses electronic posting for purposes of the FLSA, FMLA, EPPA, and the Service Contract Act (SCA).

Internet job applicants

For posters that must be delivered to internet job applicants, the DOL indicates that employers should place a prominent notice on their job posting website stating that ‘Applicants have rights under Federal Employment Laws,’ ” according to J. J. Keller & Associates’ website. This text should be linked to the FMLA, EEO, and EPPA posters.

Per one expert in a SHRM article, electronic-only posting is permitted if the hiring process is conducted remotely and the applicants have readily available access to the electronic posting at all times.”

For guidance on distributing state and local posters to job applicants and employees, check with the state labor department.

Poster size and language

Some posters have size requirements, which specify the minimum width, length, and font size.

In many cases, employers do not have to display posters in any language other than English. There are exceptions though, such as the FMLA. According to the DOL, Where an employer’s workforce includes a significant portion of workers who are not literate in English, the employer shall be responsible for providing the [FMLA] notice in a language in which the employees are literate.”

The state and local governments may have their own poster size and language requirements.

Keep your posters current

As mentioned earlier, you must replace your posters when changes in the law occur. While some posters may stay the same for years at a time, others may need to be updated more frequently. For example, state minimum wage laws may change at the start of the year or mid-year, and employers must update the minimum wage poster to reflect those developments.

Where to get workplace posters

Typically, you can get workplace posters (including updated versions) for free from the government agency that oversees the poster regulations. Some of these posters are available in multiple languages as well. However, you will be responsible for monitoring and implementing mandatory poster changes.

Alternatively, you can go through a reputable third-party company that offers poster compliance services — which include providing you with the posters plus keeping you up to date on mandatory changes.

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