The Complete HR Compliance Glossary

Do HR compliance terms strike fear into your heart? Fret no longer — use this glossary to learn compliance terms and their definitions.

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Depending on your background, compliance can be one of those words that sends shivers of terror down your spine.

We understand.

Below you’ll find a glossary of several HR-related terms that are used when anyone is talking about HR compliance.

Click on any of the letters below to jump to words that start with that letter.

A B C D E F G H I L M N O P S T U V W

A

Affirmative Action Program (AAP)

A regulation managed through the DoL requiring employers to create programs and provide reporting demonstrating that they actively recruit, hire, and train covered veterans, disabled persons, minorities, and women.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Reporting

Applicable large employers (ALEs) must provide their employees with their personal benefits-related reporting form 1095C. The IRS must receive both the individual 1094Cs and the consolidated 1095C. Self-insured companies, or those that do not meet the ALE definition, must provide the 1095B to all employees, and the IRS must receive both the 1094B and 1095B.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

This regulation is managed through the HHS. ALEs must offer affordable health insurance options, as defined by this regulation, and comply with its stringent recordkeeping requirements.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

A regulation overseen by the EEOC that prevents employers from discriminating against workers age 40 and older in their hiring practices.

American with Disabilities Act (ADA)

A regulation under the DoL’s jurisdiction prohibiting employers from discriminating against and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities in any activity, including communications, employment, government activities, public accommodation, and transportation.

Applicable Large Employer (ALE)

A company with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees.

B

Ban the Box

Depending on the legislation in your jurisdiction, there may be a local regulation requiring the removal of the check-box on a job application asking if an applicant has a criminal record or a history of illegal activity.

Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI)

A state-level organization with similar functions to the federal-level DoL.

C

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPRA)

A program aligned with Medicaid which must be communicated to all parents to ensure their children have access to affordable healthcare.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

The regulation managed by the DoL that governs health insurance benefits when employees cease their employment and allows them to elect to continue company coverage for a market-based fee for a specified period of time (the duration depends on the circumstances of the employee’s separation from the company).

Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)

A tool used when representatives from one or more unions negotiate labor contracts via meetings with representatives (management) from an organization

Compliance posters

Posters that discuss employee rights that the DoL mandates be displayed in a common area, so they are clearly visible and accessible to all employees.

Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA)

This regulation establishes requirements and boundaries for wage garnishment and privacy requirements for storing employment-based credit checks.

Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA)

This regulation defines how laborers and mechanics are paid via government construction contractors and subcontractors and their hours and safety standards.

Copeland Act

A regulation managed by the DoL that supplements the Davis-Bacon Act. This law states that federal contractors and subcontractors must pay their laborer and mechanic employees their total wages and not entice them in any way to forfeit part of their wages.

D

Davis-Bacon Act

A regulation which is overseen by the DoL that mandates minimum wage amounts for laborer and mechanic employees of federal contractors and subcontractors.

Department of Labor (DoL)

The government entity responsible for overseeing regulations related to employment.

Drug-Free Workplace Act

A regulation enacted to ensure that federal contractors and those who receive federal grants have policies and procedures in place to provide safe, drug-free work environments.

E

EEO-1 Reporting

A regulation managed by the DoL requiring employers with at least 100 employees or federal contractors with at least 50 or more to provide EEO-1 reporting to the EEOC certifying compliance with the Title VII through the maintenance of diversity records for workplaces and individual employees.

Employee files

The repository for each employee’s information.

Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) 

The regulation that prohibits the use of lie detector tests as part of any pre-employment screening or during employment (with some exceptions).

Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

A law managed by the DoL in which employers must give participants of their private retirement and health plans information pertaining to specific plan features, funding, and responsibilities. One key amendment of ERISA includes how COBRA is managed.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

A government agency that oversees regulations explicitly pertaining to Title VII and other job discrimination and harassment laws.

Equal Pay Act (EPA)

A regulation overseen by the EEOC requiring employers to pay male and female employees the same wage for the same job. One key amendment includes the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Executive Order 11246

A regulation overseen by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) within the DoL ensures that federal contractors and subcontractors apply affirmative action and equal employment standards and non-discriminatory practices to their employment practices.

F

Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT)

This law the amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and requires employers to protect consumer credit data and dispose of employee credit data responsibly to prevent unauthorized access to confidential information.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

This regulation is managed by the DoL at the federal level. It defines exempt (not entitled to overtime) vs. non-exempt (entitled to overtime and scheduled breaks) and places the onus on employers to correctly classify and pay their employees. This law also governs child labor standards.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Regulation overseen by the DoL requiring employers to 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 a serious family illness. The regulation also defines the minimum number of hours an employee must actively work for an employer over a 12-month period before being eligible for the Act’s protections.

Federal Income Tax Withholding

The IRS requirement that employers must withhold a set percentage of an employee’s wages and pay that amount to the government. This includes social security and medicare withholdings (see FICA).

Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA)

The amount designated by the IRS that employers must deduct from employees’ earnings and that the employer also must pay for Medicare and Social Security.

G

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) 

A regulation managed by the EEOC to ensure employers do not discriminate against employees or applicants based on their personal genetic information (genetic risk factors, family medical history, disease susceptibility, etc.).

H

Health and Human Services (HHS)

Governmental agency responsible for promoting health via 11 different divisions and 3 agencies.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

A regulation overseen by HHS that provides employees privacy by prohibiting employers from receiving employee health care information from health care providers.

I

I-9

Federal form that must be completed within 3-days of an employee’s hire date that verifies the employee’s identity and eligibility to legally work within the US. Employers must retain those records for at least 3 years or at least 1-year after the employee’s termination. (see IRCA)

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

The regulation is also known as the Hart-Cellar Act. This law defines the use of Visas for immigrants.

Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA)

The law states that 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.

L

Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

This act amends the Civil Rights Act to allow those who are victims of unfair pay practices to seek rectification of the wrong under federal anti-discrimination laws.

M

McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA)

Regulation that governs how government contractors and subcontractors pay their employees based on the size of their awarded contracts.

Medicare Part D notification

Annual requirement to provide employees with notices regarding Medicare Part D, particularly related to the prescription benefits you offer.

Michelle’s Law

Law that supplements COBRA and extends the requirement that employers also extend benefits to terminated employees’ children.

Multiple Employer Welfare Agreement (MEWA)

This refers to the M-1 form, which you must file if you provide benefits for 2 or more employees. MEWA allows a group of employers to combine their contributions in a self-contributing benefits plan and to make payments based on the number of employees and the estimated costs. This process allows them to get their employees better health-insurance options.

N

National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

Specific to unionized environments, the NLRA provides employees the fundamental right to pursue better working conditions and designation of representation without fear of retaliation. It also ensures that employers cannot ban employees from or discipline them for forming or joining unions. The Act also grants employers an equal position in union-employee-employer disputes and specifically outlines dispute procedures.

National Labor Review Board (NLRB)

The organization that investigates unfair labor practice complaints made against both unions and employers (“management”) as part of its union activity and employee rights oversight responsibility.

Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act Notice (NMHPA)

This act requires that group health plans that offer maternity coverage for hospital stays of at least a 48-hours after childbirth and, in the case of Cesarean section, a 96-hour stay. It also mandates that healthcare plans include information regarding prescriptive care for newborns and mothers, which must always be included in any SBC (summary of benefits coverage) communications.

O

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

The federal organization that sets safety standards that employers must follow to ensure they provide safe employment conditions, hazard communication, and personal protective equipment for their employees.

OSHA illness and injury reporting Recordkeeping

The various reports which must be filed in compliance with OSHA safety standards, including workplace injuries and hazards.

P

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Trust Fund (PCORI)

This refers to the reporting required for those who offer employees self-funded health care options. In these instances, Form 720 must be filed to meet the (PCORI) requirements.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

This Act is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act and forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment, including firing, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, hiring, job assignments, layoffs, pay, promotions, training, and any other condition or term of an individual’s employment as a result of pregnancy.

Prior year’s OSHA report

To comply with OSHA requirements, a summary from the previous year’s worksite injuries and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-related injuries and illnesses must be posted where all employees can easily view it. Employers with 250 or more employees (or 20-249 employees in a high-risk industry) must file OSHA’s form 300-A.

S

Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)

A regulation overseen by the SEC that requires public companies to establish payroll system controls in compliance with Section 404. Under this section of the Act, companies must accurately account for their workforce, salaries, benefits, incentives, paid time off, and training costs. It also requires certain employers to create, codify, and adopt a code of ethics, a communications plan, and related staff training.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

The governmental agency that oversees SOX.

Statutory Benefits

Federally and/or state-mandated benefits a company must provide their employees minimally include social security deductions, unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensation. Some jurisdictions may also require items such as disability insurance and various types of leave benefits.

Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC)

Documents that must be distributed to plan participants at the time of enrollment and when changes are made to benefits plans. Companies have a specified amount of time to notify plan participants of these details.

Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs)

Documents that define the details and provisions of benefits plans that must be provided to all plan participants.

T

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act (MHPAA)

This Act requires group health plans and health insurance providers that include mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits to provide equitably favorable benefits for those mental health/substance disorder benefits as what they provide for medical/surgical benefits.

The National Medical Support Notice (NMSN)

This form is used by all child support enforcement agencies. It is used to notify employers that one of their employees has been ordered to provide insurance coverage for a dependent. It has the same authority as a court order related to a dependent’s health insurance coverage.

Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964

This law is governed by the EEOC. Title VII forbids discrimination against applicants or employees based on color, national origin, race, religion, or sex. It also prohibits sexual harassment and any other form of workplace sex discrimination.

U

Unfair Labor Practice (ULP)

This predominantly pertains to how unions interact with members and management at a company. It relates to any action carried out by an employer or union that would violate the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute (part of the National Labor Relations Act – NLRA) and would be investigated by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

This regulation requires employers to give employees leave from work for their military duty. Employers must also retain those employees’ reemployment rights for up to 5 years. They must also make reasonable efforts to accommodate veterans’ disabilities.

V

Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act

A law that ensures federal contractors and subcontractors do not discriminate against protected veterans in employment practices and requires employers to take intentional action to recruit, hire, retain, and promote these veterans.

Vocational Rehabilitation Act (Title V)

Enacted to The Title V of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act requires federal contractors to take affirmative action to hire and make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with a mental or physical disability.

W

W-2

Federally mandated form the IRS requires to be provided to all employees (and the IRS) demonstrating how much pay employees earned, the taxes deducted, and what retirement benefits were provided.

W-4

The form required by the IRS that allows employees to define how many tax deductions they want to be calculated as part of their pay.

W-9

The form required by the IRS that companies use to identify their independent contractors, their contractors’ tax ID number, address, company name, and the type of business they have.

Walsh-Healy Act

A law enacted to require government contractors and subcontractors with contracts over $10,000 to ensure fair pay and working conditions for their employees.

Womens’ Health and Cancer Rights Act Notice (WHCRA)

This law requires insurance plans and companies to provide specific information regarding what the plan offers, required deductibles, coinsurance limitations, and what is not covered, specifically as they relate to procedures involving a mastectomy. The companies must also cover related services, such as surgery and reconstruction, prosthetics, and any treatment of physical complications resulting from the mastectomy. Insurance companies must provide a notice of rights to each plan participant and beneficiary at enrollment and annually.

Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act (WARN)

A law requiring companies with 100 or more employees to provide employees with notification of at least 60 calendar days in advance of workplace closings and mass layoffs.

Workplace compliance posters

These are a requirement of the DOL (Department of Labor) and must be placed in a prominent location where all employees have access and can read them.

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