2020 HR Compliance Checklist: Know Your Requirements

Do you need help creating your small business’s HR policies, or updating the ones you already have? We’ve got the HR compliance checklist for you.


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Why it’s important to keep track of compliance requirements and deadlines

Small business owners and HR leaders are working hard to manage the people center of their company while also staying on top of compliance requirements and calendar-based deadlines. Whether you’re a growing startup or an established small business, your HR team needs systematic approaches to remain compliant.

Use compliance calendars and checklists to pay attention to requirements and due dates like fixed, rolling, and dynamic deadlines at the local, state, and federal levels for compliance-related tasks.

Download Zenefits’ 2020 compliance calendar for legally-vetted information that helps you avoid missing important dates and the risk of hefty penalties. Use the following compliance checklist to create your HR policies — or as a way to revamp existing ones.

Whether you’re a growing startup or an established small business, your HR team needs systematic approaches to remain compliant.

General HR tasks

Employee files

  • Make sure to create them and store them in a safe location
  • Include employee’s application, disciplinary history, and performance reviews
  • Double check that personal documents, drug test results, or polygraph tests don’t live in general employee files. You should store them in confidential files

Compliance Posters

Ensure the United States Department of Labor’s mandatory posters are hung in a common area and clearly visible.

Performance reviews

Determine or review your performance review policy. If you’re still using the annual review, now may be the time to consider a more consistent and timely system of feedback.

Recruiting and hiring

 Make sure your business has:

  • Offer letter templates
  • Form I-9 employment eligibility verification procedures. HR teams need to analyze and record employee verification documents — keep these in a designated place. Employers must provide these documents within 3 business days when requested
  • Relevant non-competes, NDAs, invention disclosure, or intellectual property forms
  • Documented policies on Title VII, age discrimination, sexual harassment, ADA, and FMLA. Your employee handbook is a good place to put these

Review or update:

  • Verbiage on at-will employment
  • Where your company posts job ads
  • How to determine your target candidates
  • What your onboarding process looks like
  • Interviewing procedures, like who interviews and what questions to ask
  • How to manage references
  • How your applications ask for ADA status to make sure the wording is legal

Compensation, benefits, and payroll


Review your approach for structuring competitive pay. Factors like the multi-generational workforce and rise of the gig economy can make this tricky. Confirm your payroll structure, and revisit the payroll technology you’re using.


What are your benefit offerings? Consider:

  • PTO: Will you offer standard PTO or bundle with a flexible PTO policy?
  • Voluntary benefits: Do you offer dental, vision, life insurance, and 401Ks? Companies do not have to provide these, but most competitive employers do
  • Mandatory benefits: Unemployment, workers compensation (check your state’s specific laws), and if you have over 50 employees, health insurance coverage as well

Company compliance

Check for compliance on the following requirements. Have an automated compliance system in place where you can pull this information easily.

Fair Labor Standards Act

The FLSA requires compliance with minimum wage, overtime, child labor laws and provides guidelines for classifying employees as exempt or nonexempt. Check that you have systems in place for correctly paying overtime wages and keeping track of employee hours.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The EEOC requirements include:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: Bars discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin
  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act: Employers cannot discriminate “against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment”
  • Age Discrimination Employment Act: Prohibits age discrimination in persons over 40
  • Equal Pay Act: Requires equal pay for equal work for all sexes. Discrepancies are only permitted if they are “affirmative defenses” — and it is the employers’ burden to prove that they apply

Family and Medical Leave Act

The FMLA requires employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for new parents, to care for sick loved ones, or for a number of other qualifying reasons.

Affordable Care Act

Under the ACA, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must provide healthcare to employees. Make sure your employee handbook is up to date with healthcare information.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act

COBRA requires that employers with more than 20 employees offer a continuation of healthcare with the same scope following a “qualifying event” that results in a change of employment status. Double check that your COBRA policy is clearly communicated, or you may face potential legal action.


Generally, employees who are terminated for performance reasons after a 90-day probationary period are entitled to unemployment pay, while those fired for misconduct are not.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Check that you have all the proper security measures in place for OSHA. This will largely depend on your business.

For example, companies that have certain chemicals on the premises must have material safety data sheets on-site. Other considerations for your HR compliance checklist are to clearly communicate workplace hazards to employees and double check you have a documented emergency action plan in place.

Anti-discrimination measures

Anti-discrimination training is mandated in the 6 states of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, and New York, but it’s a smart thing for all SBOs to provide regardless of legal obligation. Check your state’s requirements for training, signed acknowledgement, and more.

Triggered Events

Confirm your company procedure for the following:

  • Injury at work
  • FMLA
  • Terminations
  • Change in employment status, like from contractor to employee

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