Payroll Data Services Blog

Your Glossary of HR Regulations

If you’re an HR professional, staying up-to-date on regulations can feel like a full-time job. They’re ever-changing and on top of that, you need to make sure you’re compliant on the local, state and federal levels. Since there’s not one central source to find all the information you need, you’re probably zigging and zagging from various resources to find what you’re looking for.

Well, we’re here to help! Check out our glossary of need to know regulations — from A to Z.

1. Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

This protects individuals aged 40 or older from employment discrimination based on age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms and conditions of employment.

2. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified applicants with a disability. Depending on the state you’re in, you may have additional state laws that required accommodations for employees with disabilities. Check your state DOL website for your specific requirements.

3. Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)

COBRA gives eligible employees who lose their health benefits the option to extend their health benefits under their group health plan for a limited period of time at group rates. Employees are eligible under certain circumstances, such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in hours worked, and other life events. 

4. Consumer Credit Protection Act (CPPA)

The CPPA was originally created to protect consumers by ensuring their loan terms are transparent. Since then, wage garnishment provisions have been added to the act to prevent employers from discharging employees if their wages are garnished for debts. The CPPA also limits how much creditors can garnish an employee’s wages in any pay period.

5. Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)

The EPPA prohibits most private employers from giving lie detector tests to employees for pre-employment screening, or during employment. However, there’s an exception. Employers of certain private firms can give polygraph tests to employees if they’re “reasonably suspected” of a workplace incident that resulted in specific economic loss or injury to the employer. The law does not apply for people working in local, state and federal government agencies.

6. Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

ERISA was designed to protect employees enrolled in retirement and health benefit plans. It sets minimum standards for most voluntarily established retirement and health benefit plans in private industry. While it applies to nearly all employers, governmental and church employers are excluded.

7. Equal Pay Act (EPA)

The EPA is a federal law that prohibits gender-based compensation discrimination. It mandates that men and women in the same workplace, doing jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibility, be paid equally. “Equal pay” doesn’t cover just salary either; any form of compensation, whether it’s insurance benefits, stock options or vacation pay, must be equal.

8. Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

This federal law monitors how consumer credit information can be collected, given out and used by employers when conducting background checks. Under the FCRA, consumers (employees) have the right to view the information in their credit file, and dispute inaccurate information.

9. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Sometimes referred to as the “Wage and Hour Law,” the FLSA is a federal law that regulates minimum wages, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor laws. By understanding the FLSA, you can determine if you should classify your employees as exempt or non-exempt.

10. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

This allows eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. While this federal law sets baseline requirements for employers, several states (such as Wisconsin) have their own set of requirements. Check your state requirements to ensure you’re in compliance with all applicable laws.

11. Federal Income Tax Withholding (FITW)

This law requires employers to withhold taxes from employee wages. When employees turn in their W-4, it indicates how much tax you should withhold from their paychecks. Considering the changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), now’s a good time to encourage your employees to do a “paycheck checkup,” in case they need to adjust their withholding and submit a new W-4. And make sure you know your state requirements — some states now require taxpayers to submit a state-specific W-4 and the federal W-4.

12. Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA)

If you’re processing payroll, take note. This law mandates a payroll tax on the paychecks of employees, as well as contributions from employers to fund Social Security and Medicare programs. If you’re self-employed, there’s an equivalent law known as the Self-Employed Contributions Act (SECA).

13. Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA)

This one’s another payroll tax that employers must pay annually or quarterly (depending on the tax liability owed) to fund unemployment benefits for employees who lose their jobs. Most businesses also need to comply with their state’s State Unemployment Tax Act (SUTA), so make sure you’re clear on requirements in your state.

14. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

Established more recently (in 2008), GINA prohibits discrimination against employees or applicants based on genetic information from genetic testing, such as a disease or a disorder.

15. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPPA is a federal law that protects the privacy and security of employees’ medical information. It also sets standards for the electronic exchange of medical records (portability), designed to protect patient confidentiality. While HIPPA federal law sets the baseline standard, states may add to it with their own set of standards.

16. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

The INA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their citizenship status or national origin. It applies in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, and recruitment. It also prohibits unfair documentation practices during the employment eligibility verification, Form I-9, and E-Verify processes, and retaliation or intimidation.

17. Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)

Under this law, all employers are required to fill out a Form I-9, which is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired in the U.S. The IRCA was created to prohibit employers from consciously hiring unauthorized aliens or individuals without completing the employment verification process.

18. Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA)

This federal law prevents group health plans and health insurance providers that include mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits from imposing less favorable benefit limitations on those benefits than on medical benefits.

19. National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)

The NLRA protects the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively with their employers. In other words, it protects non-union employees and employees who join, support or assist unions from discrimination by their employers.

20. Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act (NMHPA)

Designed to protect new mothers, this law requires group health plans to offer maternity coverage for at least a 48-hour hospital stay following childbirth. If employees need a Cesarean section, the plan is required to cover a 96-hour stay.

21. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

OSHA, which is administered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) within the Department of Labor (DOL), requires employers to keep work environments safe for workers. Any business with one or more employees must comply with OSHA, but it doesn’t apply to independent contractors and freelancers. It also doesn’t cover self-employed business owners.

22. Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)

The PRWORA was created as part of a comprehensive welfare reform plan. It requires employers to report new employees to state new hire directories for child support enforcement.

23. Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

The PDA declares that discrimination “on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions” constitutes unlawful sex discrimination. The law protects pregnant employees from discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, pay and employee benefits.

24. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII)

Title VII protects both employees and job applicants from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.

25. Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

This federal law establishes rights and responsibilities for uniformed service members and their civilian employers.

We’re here to help!

When it comes to HR regulations, there’s a lot to keep up with. While it’s ultimately up to you to stay on top of it all, there are HR tools that can help. That’s where we come in. Our HR module, Orbit Human Resources, not only automates many time-consuming HR processes so you can focus on important matters like compliance, but it also arms you with the data and reporting you need to tackle it head on. To learn more about Orbit Human Resources contact us today!


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