As I built the EffortlessHR platform – a Human Resource Information System – I kept being asked several questions:
- Why do I need to …
- Provide Military Leave
- Include and post information on Harassment
- Understand accommodation
- And many other questions!!
What this really told me was that most companies without a HR Department had no idea how the number of their employees impact which law/regulation they needed to follow and understand. So, I thought this might help take the guess work out of your HR decisions – based on the number of employees required to be following certain significant Federal Laws.
For those businesses with 1 or more employee(s):
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – 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) – 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 – Employers must withhold and pay the federal government a set percentage of employee wages for the federal government.
- Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) – Employers must withhold and pay the federal government a set percentage of employee wages for Social Security and Medicare.
- Equal Pay Act (EPA) – 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) – 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. Also, the NLRA prohibits employers from denying employees the right to discuss salary or working conditions.
- Uniform Guidelines for Employment Selection Procedures – Employers may not discriminate against employees or applicants based on 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) – 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) – Employers must carefully dispose consumer credit information to prevent unauthorized access.
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – 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.
For those businesses with 11 or more employees:
- Recordkeeping, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) – Employers of this size must maintain records in compliance with OSHA, mentioned above.
For those businesses with 15 or more employees:
- American with Disabilities Act (ADA) – Employers may not discriminate against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities.
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) – 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 – 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.
For those businesses with 20 or more employees:
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) – Employers may not discriminate in hiring practices against workers age 40 and older.
- Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) – 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.
For those businesses with 50 or more employees:
- Affordable Care Act (ACA) – 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.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – 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) – Employers must create programs to actively recruit and train minorities, women, disabled persons and covered veterans, with accompanying recordkeeping requirements.
For those businesses with 100 or more 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) – 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 – establishes the requirement for paying the local prevailing wages on public works projects for laborers and mechanics. It applies to contractors and subcontractors performing on federally funded or assisted contracts for the construction, alteration, or repair (including painting and decorating) of public buildings or public works
- Drug Free Workplace Act – requires some Federal contractors and all Federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a Federal agency.
- Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA) – applies to federal service contracts and federal and federally assisted construction contracts worth over $100,000, and requires contractors and subcontractors on covered contracts to pay laborers and mechanics employed in the performance of the contracts one and one-half times their basic rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. This Act also prohibits unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous working conditions on federal and federally financed and assisted construction projects.
- McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA) – requires contractors and subcontractors performing services on prime contracts more than $2,500 to pay service employees in various classes no less than the wage rates and fringe benefits found prevailing in the locality, or the rates (including prospective increases) contained in a predecessor contractor’s collective bargaining agreement.
- Executive Order 11246 – established requirements for non-discriminatory practices in hiring and employment on the part of U.S. government contractors. It “prohibits federal contractors and federally assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year from discriminating in employment decisions based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” It also requires contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”
- Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act – requires that employers with federal contracts or subcontracts of $25,000 or more provide equal opportunity and affirmative action for Vietnam-era veterans, special disabled veterans, and veterans who served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Act – requires private employers with federal contracts over $2,500 to take affirmative action to hire individuals with a mental or physical disability. While this means that employers must make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees, it does not mean they must hire unqualified individuals.
- Walsh-Healy Act – establishes overtime pay for hours worked by contractor employees in excess of 40 hours per week, and sets the minimum wage equal to the prevailing wage as determined by the Secretary of Labor.
- Copeland Act – prohibits a federal building contractor or subcontractor from inducing an employee into giving up any part of the compensation that he or she is entitled to under the terms of his or her employment contract.
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. Always double check to see if your state requirements are different. It is important to note that the law/regulation that is most favorable to the employee is the one that must be followed.
Keep it simple and know what laws you need to follow and you should be in good shape!