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10 Key Workplace Compliance Regulations Every Employer Should Know

Workplace compliance

10 Key Workplace Compliance Regulations Every Employer Should Know

Having a compliant workplace is crucial. It safeguards your employees’ well-being, avoids legal trouble, and ensures ethical conduct. Employees might suffer from information overload (compliance fatigue), lose focus over time (complacency), or simply not feel invested in compliance procedures (low engagement). 

Hence it is important to stay informed about the workforce compliance regulations of your organization. And for this reason, we have created a guide that walks you through the 10 key workplace compliance regulations for a more comprehensive approach.

What is Workplace Compliance?

In simpler terms, “compliance” means following all the rules. This includes federal, state, and local laws, as well as your company’s internal policies and procedures. It applies to everyone in your organization, regardless of department or position. Here are some key areas compliance covers:

  • Preventing discrimination
  • Protecting data
  • Safeguarding the environment
  • Ensuring health and safety
  • Paying your fair share of taxes

Beyond these specific rules, compliance also encompasses acting ethically as a company and fostering ethical behavior among your employees. Ultimately, effective compliance protects both your employees’ physical and mental health.

Streamline your international workforce by familiarizing yourself with these legal and regulatory issues in international human resource management.

10 Workplace Compliance Regulations You Must Know as an Employer

Maintaining a smooth-running business goes beyond just products and services. As an employer, you’re responsible for adhering to a set of regulations to ensure a safe, fair, and legal work environment. These regulations, often referred to as “workplace compliance”, can seem complex, but understanding the key ones is essential.

So, here are 10 crucial workplace compliance regulations every employer should know:

1) Anti-discrimination Laws

This is a cornerstone of workplace compliance. Federal laws like the Civil Rights Act prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. Employers must prevent discrimination in all employment practices.

Key anti-discrimination laws include 

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 
  • the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 
  • the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and 
  • the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). 

In 2021, the EEOC received over 61,000 charges of workplace discrimination related to Title VII and resolved over 16,000 disability discrimination and 11,000 age discrimination charges.

Preventing discrimination is crucial for avoiding lawsuits, reputational damage, and losing valuable talent. A diverse and inclusive workplace also drives innovation and improves decision-making. Violations can result in costly fines and legal battles.

2) Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The FLSA sets national standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards. It dictates overtime pay requirements after 40 hours per week and establishes the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Key provisions include paying non-exempt employees 1.5 times their regular rate for overtime hours, as well as restrictions on working hours for youth under 16 and prohibitions on hazardous occupations for those under 18.

Violations can result in costly penalties and litigation. In 2022, the Department of Labor handled over 21,000 FLSA cases resulting in over $264 million in back wages owed to workers.

Employers must maintain accurate payroll records and regularly review policies to ensure FLSA compliance around minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards. Failure to do so can lead to steep fines and damages.

3) Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for family and medical reasons, including childbirth, adoption, caring for a sick family member, or their own serious health condition.

To be eligible, employees must meet tenure and hours worked requirements. Employers must maintain health coverage during FMLA leave.

FMLA compliance issues are common, with 60% of employers reporting challenges like managing intermittent leave and determining serious health conditions per a 2018 survey.

Violations can result in litigation and hefty damages. Clear policies, proper leave tracking, medical certifications, and legal guidance on complex cases are crucial to avoid costly FMLA penalties.

4) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA provides guidelines for maintaining a safe workplace environment free from hazards. Employers must comply with OSHA standards on hazard control, personal protective equipment, safety training, recordkeeping, and reporting.

OSHA enforces its standards through workplace inspections. In 2021, it conducted 76,816 inspections and issued $194 million in penalties for violations like inadequate fall protection and failure to communicate hazards.

Many states also have their own job safety regulations that may be more stringent than federal OSHA rules. Employers must diligently follow all applicable OSHA standards to ensure worker safety.

5) Wage and Hour Laws

Beyond the federal FLSA, employers must comply with a patchwork of state and local wage and hour laws. These may include higher minimum wages, paid sick leave requirements, rules around meal and rest breaks, overtime calculations, and more. Penalties for violations can be significant at the state level as well.

6) Employee Classification

Classifying employees as exempt (salaried and ineligible for overtime) or non-exempt (hourly and eligible for overtime) is crucial for FLSA compliance. 

Exempt employees are salaried and ineligible for overtime pay. Non-exempt employees must receive overtime pay when working over 40 hours per week. Misclassifying workers as exempt when they should be non-exempt is a common FLSA violation that can lead to costly back wages, fines, and litigation. Employers should carefully analyze job duties against FLSA exemption criteria.

7) Immigration Law

Verifying employee eligibility to work in your country is essential. Employers must comply with I-9 verification procedures. The Immigration Reform and Control Act prohibits hiring unauthorized workers. In 2021, Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted over 6,000 audits and imposed $18 million in fines for violations.

8) Data Privacy Regulations

Depending on location and industry, employers may need to comply with data privacy laws like HIPAA for protecting medical information and the GDPR for EU data protection. These regulate how employee personal data, including medical records, is collected, stored, used, and shared. 

Violations can result in significant penalties – HIPAA fines reached over $3 million in 2022. Proper data handling procedures are essential.

9) Unemployment Insurance

Employers typically pay unemployment taxes, which fund unemployment benefits for laid-off workers. Understanding your contribution rates and filing requirements is vital.

10) Workplace Posters

Federal and state regulations often require employers to display posters informing employees of their rights and responsibilities.

Summing Up

This list serves as a starting point. Workplace compliance can be complex, and regulations can vary depending on your location and industry. Consulting with a human resources professional or legal expert is recommended to ensure you are adhering to all applicable regulations.

For companies looking to expand their workforce internationally, utilizing employer of record services can be a valuable tool to navigate the intricacies of foreign employment laws.

By prioritizing workplace compliance, you can foster a safe, fair, and legal work environment for your employees, while minimizing the risk of lawsuits and fines.

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By Robbin Roy

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Workplace compliance

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10 Key Workplace Compliance Regulations Every Employer Should Know

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By Robbin Roy

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