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Employers are required to comply with a wide range of employment laws. Human resources managers develop and maintain related policies for their employers. To minimize the risk of employee lawsuits and audits by federal or state governments, HR managers need profound knowledge of workplace regulations.
Erroneously classifying employees and independent contractors can cause the company to face tax problems and misclassified persons to not receive certain benefits, such as medical leave and unemployment insurance. Employers must also properly classify employees as exempt or nonexempt to pay them correctly. HR managers review and apply classification regulations.
Health and Safety
Health and safety laws, including those administrated by the U.S. Occupational and Safety Health Administration, help employers provide employees with a safe work environment. An HR manager establishes health and safety policies that conform to posting, record-keeping, reporting and safety inspection laws.
Wages and Hours
Under federal and state law, employers must pay employees for all hours worked. Within this general requirement are a host of wage and hours laws that employers must follow. This includes minimum wage, overtime, paycheck deductions, breaks and lunch periods, pay increases, timekeeping and other areas of compensation. These regulations are directly tied to payroll; however, the human resources manager plays a vital role in related policy development and maintenance.
Employee benefits include medical, dental, vision, life, disability and accident insurance; workers’ compensation, relocation and tuition reimbursement, company-sponsored vehicle and cell phone usage, retirement plan, flexible spending accounts, and wellness and recognition programs. Vacation, sick time and other benefit days are also forms of employee benefits. The HR manager researches benefits programs and implements them so they meet federal and state standards.
HR managers construct policies on employee privacy rights, such as employment testing, workplace searches, employee social media posting, employee communication monitoring, personnel and medical files, surveillance cameras, email security and monitoring the conduct of off-duty workers.
HR managers enforce discrimination rules within the company. When making employment decisions, they must abide by applicable discrimination, harassment and affirmative action laws. They incorporate the company’s stance on discrimination into the company handbook so managers and employees of all levels know the regulations.
Form I-9 is essential to verifying whether an employee can legally work in the U.S. The human resources manager develops protocols that comply with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ criteria. Procedures pertain to I-9 completion, verifying identification and re-verifying expiring documents.
The HR manager may need to establish other procedures. If employees choose a labor union to represent them, she must develop and sustain productive relationships with union agents and write policies on handling collective bargaining agreements. Additional procedures may relate to drug and polygraph testing, workplace violence, hiring, termination, performance evaluation and workplace notices.
Human resources managers must stay up-to-date on workplace laws and revise company procedures accordingly. The key to proper administration is to determine the regulations that apply to the company and delegate duties to qualified professionals in the HR department.
- U.S. Department of Labor: Employee Misclassification as Independent Contractors
- Princeton University: Policies and Regulations
- Nolo: Workplace Laws Every Employer Needs to Know
- Utah Valley University: Employee Benefits
- IRS.gov: Publication 15-B
- BLR: Affirmative Action: What You Need to Know
- Florida Institute of Technology: Frequently Asked Questions About I-9 Compliance
- University of California, Berkeley: Introduction
Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.