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Roadmap to Better HR Compliance

Better HR Compliance

Running your HR department is complex. And getting more so over time. As employment laws and regulations increase, so does your risk of penalties for non-compliance.

Staying compliant with federal, state, and local laws and regulations requires work. Otherwise, you could face an audit and possibly pay hefty financial fines.

There’s no, “Sorry, we didn’t know that” when it comes to working with agencies, laws, policies, and other suppose-to’s.

But don’t panic.

Instead, read on for some tips and approaches for keeping in the know when it comes to all the moving parts for HR compliance.

Be consistent with your processes

Processes help maintain order. Otherwise, unpredictability can lead to mixed results–and compliance suffers. Here are a few tips to keep your processes useful and updated.

What to keep, what to toss?

That’s the question, for employee documents. It’s important to create processes for operating consistently when people leave the company.

Identify documents you can destroy. Including when, where, and how. Appoint a data steward to ensure compliance for processes, and for asking any questions.

Consider a strategy for digital evidence. Ensure your electronic files are admissible for any discovery or litigation.

Train your people on compliance

Just because you’ve been to the plate to swing a bat doesn’t make you a great hitter.

Same goes for keeping up with compliance training.

Laws, policies, and processes change. What was new, becomes old and outdated quickly.

Keeping up with all that requires a continuous approach to getting and staying HR compliant.

It’s a mindset.

Even better: is using an online system to manage employee compliance information.

By going paperless, processes become woven into your corporate fabric.

Keep the employee handbook updated

Back to the sports analogy.

A company handbook is like having a rule book for sports.

It defines your company’s boundaries with ground rules. And, explains what is and is not considered acceptable behavior.

From payroll schedule and vacation policies to federal, state, and industry regulations.

Last thing you want is to be sued for things you could avoid by having employee policies and procedures documented and understood by your employees.

Be consistent by being organized

When it comes to compliance, being organized is a must. Having, using, and refining a set of checklists for the things to do and manage will help you get and stay compliant. And, to be ready for any audit. We’ve listed some ideas to get you started with your checklists.

For interviewing

Here are some items for being rock-solid with you interviewing process.


  • Ensure everything you ask is legal and appropriate for…
    • Americans with Disabilities Act
    • Federal Employment and Housing Act
    • At-Will employment
    • All other interview questions
  • Identify who asks which questions during the interviewing process
    • Update job application form
    • Update job descriptions
    • Update process for checking references

For hiring

Do you continually hire new employees?

Great. Make sure you…

  • Review offer letter
  • Review and refine new-hire orientation process
  • Update job descriptions
  • Notify others of incoming new hire(s), so they can be prepared
  • Create new-hire packet
  • Ensure all documents are available and up to date
    • Federal
    • State
    • W-4
    • Form I-9
    • Title VII
    • Discrimination policies for race, color, origin, religion, age, and sex
  • Check links for all documents and handbooks

For documents

Are all your important documents in place and current? And, do the right people know what to do when an employee updates their forms? For…

  • Withholding forms
  • I-9s
  • W-2s

For year end

It’s nearing the end of the year. Why scramble? Know exactly what’s left to be done.

  • Ensure Affordable Care Act statements are correct and complete
    • Calculate the number of full-time employees
    • Distribute Health Insurance Marketplace Notices to employees
    • Prepare for reporting Forms 1094-C and 1095-C to the IRS
  • For W-2s and 1099s
    • Gather the forms
    • Specify exempt or non-exempt for each employee
    • File forms with the Social Security Administration

Be consistent by staying informed

We broke down a few categories, so you can stay up to date.

Partner with others

It takes a team to keep in the know about everything going on.

You can define a group of people to monitor regulatory changes. And, to perform research to understand all the impacts of those changes. Such as implementing new tax forms.

Get a cross-functional team involved, from benefits, legal, payroll, and HR. Different areas have insights and knowledge for changes during and at end of tax-year.

Pay the right rates

Minimum wage rates are constantly changing. How do you keep up? It’s not easy.

You can rely on your payroll provider to help ensure you stay current.

Otherwise, create an ongoing reminder in your calendar to check every month or two. Here’s a good list of minimum wage rates by state.

As for overtime, what are the rules? There’s plenty of them. We’ve got you covered. Read all about them here.

Know when tax regulations change

Tax laws change, as you experienced with the new tax reform legislation in 2018. At federal, state, and local levels. How are you keeping up with them? Some ideas…

Rely on the American Payroll Association to keep you informed. Staying in touch with experts will keep you in the know for new regulations, requirements, and deadlines.

Check the latest news. Participate in webinars, conferences, and monitor industry resources to know how new regulations will affect your business.

Keep a database with the all the regulations that matter to you. Register their important dates, subjects and other information.

Keep the right records, for the right amount of time

How long must you keep records to be compliant?

Keep W-4 forms for each employee at least four years from the date of hire. Or, for one year after the employee leaves, whichever is latest.

Keep I-9 forms for three years after the date of hire -or- for one year after they leave, again, whichever is latest.

Keep hiring records, like resumes, interview notes, applications, and job postings for at least a year. Why? To easily show you were not discriminating in any way. ADA and Title VII, for instance, require you to show you’re in compliance.

Keep payroll and timecards for at least three years. Five years? Even better. As evidenced by recent lawsuits. Easy to do when using an electronic system.

As for final paycheck laws, they vary by state. Know what they are for your state here. Many employers unknowingly break these laws. Don’t be one of them,

Keep up with OSHA, too

OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administrations) mission is to keep employees safe in the work place. They operate within the Department of Labor, and their laws and regulations change. Keep up with everything on their site.

Many employers have already discovered the benefits of using an automated approach to help manage their compliance efforts. The road to better compliance may be rough at times, but working with a partner helps to ease your compliance concerns.