Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

Complying with workplace laws and regulations is crucial for any business, large or small. All employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment and uphold certain standards when it comes to pay, benefits, discrimination, and more. While the basics like minimum wage and anti-discrimination are widely known, there are many other legal requirements that go beyond the basics. Not complying can result in fines, lawsuits, and damage to a company’s reputation. Understanding some of the less obvious aspects of legal compliance means employers can avoid penalties and show that they value employees.

Maintaining Accurate Employment Records

One of the most important areas that goes beyond the basics is maintaining accurate and up-to-date employment records. There are strict rules around which documents need to be kept, what information they must contain, and how long they must be retained. This includes records like:

  • employment applications and resumes. 
  • offers letters outlining pay rates, benefits, etc.
  • payroll records including rate of pay, hours worked, deductions, etc.
  • performance reviews and disciplinary records.
  • medical exams related to employment.
  • injury and illness records related to occupational safety.
  • employment tax records. 
  • background check consent forms and reports.
  • employment termination records.

Throwing records away too early can get a company in legal trouble. On the other hand, keeping unnecessary private information for too long also poses a risk. Having clear policies and procedures for employment record keeping is crucial. Staying on top of which records relate to which laws helps to avoid issues. For example, being aware that a health and safety law poster must be displayed helps a business comply with labor department regulations.

Properly Classifying Employees 

How a company classifies employees as exempt vs. non-exempt or independent contractor vs. employee has major legal implications when it comes to pay, benefits, taxation, and more. Misclassification can lead to lawsuits from workers seeking back pay for unpaid overtime. It can also lead to fines and penalties from governmental agencies.

For example, classifying a worker as an independent contractor rather than an employee may seem like it reduces costs. But the IRS has strict guidelines about who can legally be an independent contractor. If those guidelines are not met and the classification is challenged, the business may end up owing back taxes and benefits. The basic test revolves around how much control the employer has over the worker. Understanding the intricacies takes this area of compliance beyond the basics.

Complying with Leave Laws

While basics like breaks for meals and rest are well known, leave laws go deeper. At the federal level and in many states, there are various types of protected leave that employers must properly administer. This includes family, medical, pregnancy, military leave and more.

The Family and Medical Leave Act is one example. It requires employers with fifty or more employees to provide up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for serious health conditions, caring for family, and other reasons. Employees are entitled to return to their job or an equivalent one afterwards. There are rules about employee eligibility, certification, intermittent leave, continuation of benefits, and more.

Failing to comply can again lead to lawsuits from employees as well as Department of Labor complaints and penalties. Staying on top of not just the basics but also more advanced leave law nuances is key.

Meeting Occupational Safety and Health Requirements

No compliance overview is complete without mentioning OSHA. Workplace safety and health fundamentals like providing personal protective equipment are just scratching the surface. Requirements like illness and injury record keeping, safety committees, written workplace safety programs, employee training, and proper chemical handling go much deeper.

Having strong safety and health compliance procedures makes employees feel valued. It also protects customers and avoids potential reputational harm from being labeled unsafe. Moving beyond basics to more advanced safety and health compliance pays in many ways. 

Proactively Addressing Pay Equity Concerns

Pay discrimination based on protected classes like gender continues to be an issue that receives more focus. Laws like the Equal Pay Act and Title VII make it illegal to pay men and women differently for the same work. More states are passing additional pay equity and pay transparency laws.

To get ahead of this issue, conducting proactive pay audits is wise. Going beyond basics involves looking deeper than just job titles. It means doing an in-depth analysis of pay rates for roles requiring substantially similar skill, effort, and responsibility. Then identifying and fixing discrepancies is key.

The Growing Scope of Harassment Rules

Workplace harassment laws continue expanding in scope too. It is not just about avoiding outright illegal behaviors, like quid pro quo demands. An emerging compliance area is preventing and addressing toxic cultures that enable harassment.

This means going beyond basic training to encourage active bystander intervention from employees. It means having strong investigation procedures and documenting all efforts. Expanding anti-harassment efforts to include contractors and customers is important too.

Creating Effective Compliance Training

This discussion shows how legal compliance goes far beyond well-known basics. There are so many nuances, even for individual issues like record keeping and safety. Expanding across multiple states, leaves, pay, and issues makes things exponentially more complex.

Nonetheless, comprehensive training across all these areas helps create a culture of compliance. This, in turn, reduces legal risks and creates a solid foundation. Training should be tailored by state and role. It should go beyond superficial basics to tackle thorny situations that may actually arise. Interactive exercises are ideal to check understanding. Auditing and self-assessing enables staying ahead of the curve on emerging workplace compliance obligations beyond the basics.


Legal requirements placed on employers continue growing in number and complexity across a host of issues. Pay equity, leave, contractor status, record keeping, safety, and harassment all go far beyond basics. Failing to comply means risking fines, lawsuits, and reputation damage.

Understanding the less obvious intricacies of all these workplace law topics means employers can avoid penalties. They can also build an ethical, safe, and fair culture. Proactive compliance promotes positive workforce engagement and corporate citizenship. When viewed through this lens, staying legally compliant in areas beyond the basics benefits a business in many ways.

By admin