Compliance Check: Federal Laws Based on Employee Size

With a growing small business, compliance is just one of many things on your to-do list, behind hiring, customer acquisition, and managing day-to-day operations. Here’s a brief checklist of some major federal laws you’ll need to tackle at different employee thresholds in your growth.

1+ Employee

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), via DoL
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), via DoL
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), via DoL
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, via IRS
Employers must withhold and pay the federal government a set percentage of employee wages for the federal government.

Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA), via IRS
Employers must withhold and pay the federal government a set percentage of employee wages for Social Security and Medicare.

Equal Pay Act (EPA), via EEOC
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), via DoL
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), via NLRB
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.

Uniform Guidelines for Employment Selection Procedures, via EEOC
Employers may not discriminate against employees or applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA), via DoL
Employers cannot use lie detector tests in pre-employment screening or during employment (with some exceptions).

Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), via SEC
Public companies must follow set mandates to enhance corporate responsibility, combat fraud and provide financial disclosures.

Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), via DoL
Employers must follow employee wage garnishment requirements.

Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT), via Federal Register
Employers must dispose carefully dispose of consumer credit information to prevent unauthorized access.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), via HHS
Employers cannot receive health care information about employees from health care providers.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), via OSHA
Employers must follow federally-set standards providing safe employment conditions, hazard communication, and personal protective equipment.

11+ Employees

Recordkeeping, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), via OSHA
Employers of this size must maintain records in compliance with OSHA, mentioned above.

15+ Employees

American with Disabilities Act (ADA), via DoL
Employers may not discriminate against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities.

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), via EEOC
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, via EEOC
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.

20+ Employees

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), via EEOC
Employers may not discriminate in hiring practices against workers age 40 and older.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), via DoL
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.

50+ Employees

Affordable Care Act (ACA), via HHS
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. We’ve deciphered the ACA for you here.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), via DoL
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), via DoL
Employers must create programs to actively recruit and train minorities, women, disabled persons and covered veterans, with accompanying recordkeeping requirements.

100+ Employees

Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act (WARN), via DoL
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), via EEOC
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
  • Drug Free Workplace Act
  • Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA)
  • McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA)
  • Executive Order 11246
  • Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Act
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Act
  • Walsh-Healy Act
  • Copeland Act

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. We encourage you to speak with your legal counsel, tax adviser, or human resources professional to understand how this information applies to you. Or ask about our HR Support solutions – custom fit for the level of service you need.