“HR compliance is defined as the process of aligning workplace policies with a city’s, state’s, country’s, and the world’s labor laws, in sync with industry-specific regulations. In addition to policy setup, enforcing practices to follow these policies daily is also part of HR compliance.”
Fig 1. What HR compliance entails
Table of Contents
- What Is HR Compliance?
- HR Compliance Checklist: 10 Key Items
- 5 Best Practices for Enforcing HR Compliance
- 4 Key Issues Around HR Compliance and How to Overcome Them
- A Final Takeaway: Respecting Individual Rights Is Key for HR Compliance
HR compliance is defined as the process of aligning workplace policies with a city’s, state’s, country’s, and the world’s labor laws in sync with industry-specific regulations. In addition to policy setup, enforcing practices to follow these policies daily is also part of HR compliance.
Compliance is among the critical functions of any HR department. You are tasked with making sure that hiring practices, workplace rules, treatment of employees, and a variety of other factors all comply with the relevant laws. Companies also outline their own HR compliance policies to be followed internally.
But managing this HR compliance landscape could prove to be a challenge. A2019 survey of 1,300+ respondentsOpens a new windowfound that employers anticipate a significant impact from regulatory laws. Variances at state and local levels add to this complexity, making it hard to manage paid sick leave (69%), the legalization of marijuana (54%), and background checks (52%).
In response, companies must take proactive measures to maintain HR compliance. There are several layers of rules and standards to follow, requiring a multifaceted compliance strategy from HR. And these rules are continually evolving.
For instance, just recently, the U.S. government released theFamilies First Coronavirus Response ActOpens a new window, which makes it mandatory for employers to offer paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave until December 31, 2020, for reasons associated with COVID-19. The rollout of GDPR two years ago was another law that introduced a tectonic shift in HR compliance.
Typically, an HR compliance officer (working with a dedicated HR compliance team) takes charge of handling these regulations, ensuring that an organization is up to date and compliant at all times. From retiring outdated practices to implementing forward-looking action plans, the HR compliance officer is at the center of a smooth-functioning organization.
HR compliance often works alongside a company’s legal team so that the laws and standards are interpreted correctly. It can also reach out to thelearning and development (L&D)Opens a new windowdepartment to train employees on compliant practices, for instance, in workplace safety in a manufacturing unit.
The lexicon of HR compliance is fluid. New laws replace old ones, a landmark judgment may set a legal precedent, and topical events could call for a pivot in compliance practices. But these changeable factors apart, there are 10 key terms to take note of when adhering to compliance mandates.
1. Statutory compliance
Statutory compliance entails compliance with legislations set by a local, state, or federal government. All employers are legally mandated to follow statutory compliance, without which they are liable to face criminal charges.
The minimum working age, minimum wage per hour, anti-discrimination laws, and the like all fall under statutory compliance. But it could vary from country to country, which is why country-specific HR compliance is crucial (see checklist item no. 9).
2. Regulatory compliance
Regulatory compliance could sometimes overlap with a statutory compliance norm, but the difference is that a specific regulatory body sets it. For example, the Health and Safety Executive in the U.K. and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the U.S. lay down specific mandates for a safe work environment and prevention of accidents or health hazards. Once again, failure to maintain regulatory compliance could result in criminal charges.
3. Contractual compliance
Contractual compliance involves adherence to the contractual agreement formed when you employ a worker. From payroll employees to the hourly workforce, from interns to a white-collar freelance consultant, every employment model is governed by a contract.
The agreement could include clauses for a notice period, a severance package, employee stock options, a tenure-based bonus, and lots more. If an employer doesn’t abide by a contract, it could be open to a civil lawsuit.
4. Union law compliance
The National Labor Relations Act mentions provisions for employee unions. Unions are groups of workers engaged in a similar industry – often in a specific region – working together to protect employee rights. (Fun fact: The Screen Actors Guild was formed as an American labor union representing 100,000+ performers and technicians!)
By adhering to union law, companies can ensure that their employees are satisfied, and there is no feeling of discontentment among the workforce.
5. HR technology compliance
The growing use of HR technology makes it critical to pay special attention to this checklist item. Your HR technology platforms must be compliant with a host of regulations, includingemployee data rights such as the GDPROpens a new window. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) also requires the protection of certain types of health information – which could influence your medical benefits administration platform.
Typically, HR technology compliance is included in the service-level agreements (SLAs) between a company and its HR tech vendor.
6. Internal compliance
Internal compliance is the outlining and enforcement of internal policies, which often reflect statutory and regulatory laws.
For instance, French labor law calls for a 35-hour workweek. So, companies with an office in France, could formulate internal policies for afour-day workweekOpens a new window, or mandate a two-hour lunch break every day. Internal compliance helps to make sure that broader regulatory guidelines are followedin practiceand not just in theory.
7. Training compliance
Some industries (or regions) require employees to be mandatorily trained in specific areas.
For example, in California, any company with five or more employees would have to provide two hours of classroom/interactive anti-harassment training to every employee in a supervisory role, and at least one hour to all non-supervisory employees. Professions like nursing, social care, manufacturing equipment handling, etc. come with their own set of training laws.
Companies usually leverageemployee training tracking softwareOpens a new windowto ensure that they meet the required compliance regulations.
8. International labor law
International labor law is a body of rules covering a myriad of regulations around the rights and duties of employees, employers, and governments – it’s headed by the International Labour Organization (ILO), coordinating with other agencies.
The standards set by international labor law often inspire regional regulations. Specifically, there areConventions (legally binding) and Recommendations (non-binding guidelines)Opens a new window. Fundamental conventions cover an individual’s right to work, the rights of a child, the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, and the like. Importantly, these international laws apply if your country is a member-state of the ILO.
9. Country-specific HR compliance
A country could form its own HR compliance regulations. For instance, France recently implemented the Right to DisconnectOpens a new windowlaw, which applies to any company with 50+ workers. Retirement age and the minimum age to start work also vary from country to country.
Global companies must take these details into account when formulating policy guidelines. Country-specific guidelines will help to avoid non-compliance risks and substantial penalties.
10. Workplace compliance
Workplace compliance refers to an internal body of rules governing employee behavior in the workplace. Often, this relates to statutory and regulatory norms, making sure that they are proactively followed. Mandatory work hours, the mandatory volume of work, mandatory breaks, policies around working from home, the appropriate dress codes, non-discriminatory behavior, and the like, fall under workplace compliance.
This checklist addresses both HR compliance as well as employee well-being and helps to build a sustainable work environment.
Here are five best practices that can help keep the organization compliant.
Fig 2. 5 HR compliance best practices
1. Your HR data governance plan should ideally span six years
HR data will be subject to internal and external audits at regular intervals. And any anomaly will be flagged as non-compliant. That’s why it is critical to have a robust data governance plan under which you record all relevant data sets and track how it is used. Time limitations for storing data could vary – typically, experts recommend storing data for upto six yearsOpens a new window, which means that your data governance plan has to be built accordingly.
Year-on-year data will also help to track key trends, mapping if you are getting closer to compliance with time-bound benchmarks such as100% wage equityOpens a new window.
2. Establish a regional HR compliance function in different cities
As we already mentioned, every country has a slightly different set of HR compliance laws. In some cases, there are state and city-specific laws as well. For example, there is a Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act, which applies to any company with six employees or more in the region; we already spoke about California’s anti-harassment training laws.
To keep up, you need a regional compliance function in every location, working closely with that region’s local government and your organization’s central legal arm.
3. Consider the very nuanced definition of “discrimination”
While every employee should be treated equitably and with respect, employment laws could set down specific rules based on gender. For instance, Saudi Arabia has plenty ofwomen-only workplacesOpens a new windowwhere men are not allowed to participate (as per cultural, and not legally binding norms). These nuances must be taken into account when formulating workplace compliance guidelines and hiring strategies.
4. Update your HR compliance manual every year (at least)
Given the vast terrain of facts and information that comes under HR compliance, you need a regularly updated playbook. An annual update is a good idea, consolidating all laws and regulatory changes that have rolled out during that time. This update should also remove any local laws that have been rescinded, as may happen with laws introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.
Share a summary of the compliance manual, simplifying any legalese, with the entire workforce. This will enable a culture of transparency, rationalizing workplace policies.
5. Robust HR compliance begins with compliant hiring
Hiring compliance is an entire area of discussion, defining who and how you should recruit. From anti-discrimination laws and legal working age to background checks and rules around immigration, there is massive ground to cover. Interestingly, different U.S. states could have different working-age requirements, and if they vary from the federal guidelines, then the most stringent law will apply.
By making your recruitment process fully compliant, you can ensure that you start on the right foot and avoid any penalty during future audits.
HR compliance is an evolving entity. To stay compliant, organizations must anticipate any issues and tackle them proactively. While this depends on the nature of your business and where you’re situated, therearea few commonalities every organization may face. For instance:
1. Laws often evolve faster than one can keep up
This is a major challenge for large companies with a distributed workforce. A retailer with stores spread across multiple states or a manufacturer with plants in different countries must keep up with ever-evolving regional HR regulations.
To overcome this issue, we recommend a partnership with an HR compliance service provider while having a designated HR compliance officer in-house. There are several companies out there that you could consider likeBombayOpens a new window, which couples a dedicated manager with a comprehensive audit, andHR360Opens a new window, a repository of resources and compliance professionals.
2. HR tech vendors may not be outspoken about compliance
This is an emerging issue as companies widely adopt HR technology for a range of activities. In some cases, a platform might not explicitly state how and why it collects your data, or if it has a compliance plan in place.
To address this, companies should make compliance the top criteria for vendor selection and ask as many questions as possible from the data compliance perspective before purchasing HR technology. Fortunately, most leading vendors graft compliance into their offerings, continually updating the software in accordance with the law. For example,Workday has an entire sectionOpens a new windowof product information related to security, privacy, and compliance. The company opts for third-party audits and certifications, assuring its customers of compliance at all times. Also ask about how soon vendors will update their compliance policies with changing regulations.
3. Interpretation of laws could vary
When it comes to enforcing HR compliance guidelines, the law and the situation could be interpreted differently by different parties. For example, a harassment claim might need accurate records or witness statements to be verified – in fact, this applies toanybreach of workplace compliance norms.
To address this, you can adopt a chatbot to collect records of workplace experiences, making it easier for employees to report issues on time, and for you to verify them.SpotOpens a new windowis one such solution for this, deploying an AI-based chatbot for compliance scenarios like harassment, discrimination, misconduct, whistleblowing, and policy violations.
4. Persistent issues could make HR compliance difficult
This is among the most challenging issues HR faces. If we look at laws around gender discrimination, wage equity, and equal opportunities, much of the discrepancy arises frompersistentnegative behavior. In other words, companies have been non-compliant for a long time (e.g., women have been historically underpaid) and now find it challenging to bridge the gap.
Addressing this takes time, but companies strengthen their efforts by keeping a close vigil and regularly collecting data to spot any gaps. Internal audits are a good idea, likeGoogle publishing an annual diversity reportOpens a new window.
At the center of HR compliance lie human rights.
The right to work, the right to equal pay, the right to safe working conditions, and the right to requisite benefits are among the fundamental factors you should aim for when outlining your compliance playbook. On the surface, it might seem like HR compliance is only about protocol and blind rules following – but digging deeper, it is clear that your HR compliance function shapesemployee experiencesOpens a new windowand the workplace as a whole.
By leveraging compliance as an employee-centric tool, you can build a positive work environment where every employee feels safe, comfortable, and respected, and is eager to contribute to your company.
An HR compliance checklist is a systematically organized checklist that provides a list of tasks that need to be completed. Human resource specialists use it to prepare for an HR audit.What is the purpose of an HR compliance checklist? ›
An HR compliance checklist is a systematically organized checklist that provides a list of tasks that need to be completed. Human resource specialists use it to prepare for an HR audit.What is HR compliance description? ›
What is HR compliance? HR compliance means adhering to all applicable labor laws. The larger your organization and the more geographic regions you operate in, the more regulations you must comply with.What is a compliance issue that HR managers are involved in? ›
An effective HR manager has knowledge and experience of all compliance issues. These include issues relating to employee benefits and compensation, health and safety, leave entitlements, discrimination and harassment, confidentiality, and employee labor rights.What are the seven 7 human resource management practices? ›
What are the basics of Human Resource Management? Recruitment & selection, performance management, learning & development, succession planning, compensation and benefits, Human Resources Information Systems, and HR data and analytics are considered cornerstones of effective HRM.What is meant by compliance checklist? ›
What Is A Compliance Checklist? A compliance audit checklist is a compliance tool utilized by external or internal auditors to assess and verify an organization's adherence to government regulations, industry standards, or the company's own policies.What is the importance of compliance checks? ›
Compliance monitoring is there to ensure your organization complies with the necessary rules, regulations, policies, laws, and standards that guide your organization. Without them, there are too many opportunities for malpractice and malfeasance.What is the relationship between HR and compliance? ›
Compliance has traditionally been HR's main focus and area of responsibility. HR is expected to ensure the company meets all legalities concerning employee treatment while making sure employees understand workplace handbooks, codes of contact, and similar issues.How does compliance and HR work together? ›
The compliance and HR functions intersect in important ways.
On the compliance side, needs include regulatory, policy and procedure updates; federal and state reporting; ethical decision support; and hotline management. Both departments are accountable for ensuring patient safety.
HR risk management focuses on analyzing the risks that employees of an organization pose to the business. HR risk management addresses risks related to inadequate employee management, employees' behavior, or risks related to the certain ways that human resources use to hire and sack employees.
- Corruption. ...
- Employee Behavior. ...
- Workplace Health and Safety. ...
- Environmental Impact. ...
- Data Management. ...
- Quality. ...
- Process. ...
- Social Responsibility.
These are examples of issues that can be reported to a Compliance Department: suspected Fraud, Waste, and Abuse (FWA); potential health privacy violation, and unethical behavior/employee misconduct.What are some issues that could occur if hrm is not in compliance? ›
Failure to fully comply with laws and regulations can lead to serious consequences for a small company, including audits, lawsuits, and even bankruptcy.What are the 5 core principles of HR? ›
- Commitment. One aspect that the HR department tries to deal with is job security. ...
- Competence. Competence is one of the core principles that supports a company's growth and development. ...
- Employee Recruitment. ...
- Employee Orientation. ...
- Employee Development.
Human Resources manages 5 main duties: talent management, compensation and employee benefits, training and development, compliance, and workplace safety. An HR department can help provide organizational structure and the ability to meet business needs by effectively managing the employee lifecycle.What are the six core HR processes? ›
The six main function of HR are recruitment, workplace safety, employee relations, compensation planning, labor law compliance and training.What are the 5 C's of compliance? ›
Summary: Calm, credible, clear, confident and courageous Compliance leadership keeps management, the Board, employees calm to manage crises and keep defenses strong to remain diligent against harm, including fraud, misconduct, and criminal activity.What are the 4 Ps of compliance? ›
For this, we analyze how the bill that has made the most progress and seen the most changes along the way—the American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA, H.R. 8152)—handles the “4 Ps of privacy”: Preemption, Private right of action, a Path to compliance, and Protection against unauthorized access.What are the 6 elements of compliance? ›
They include: Risk Assessment, Governance and Structure, Policies Procedures and Controls, Training and Education, Oversight and Reporting, and Response and Enhancements.How do I make a compliance checklist? ›
- Create and manage digital checklists.
- Attach and send photos.
- Keep track of checklist progress.
- Gather relevant data and information.
- Generate useful reports of checklist findings.
- And more!
Compliance is the set of processes and organization uses to ensure that employees and the organization as a whole abide by internal rules of conduct and external rules and regulations.What is the most important requirement for a compliance function? ›
A good compliance program should include policies and procedures that are regularly reviewed and updated as necessary. The program should also include training and education for employees to ensure that they understand their responsibilities and the regulations they must follow. Why do you need a compliance function?Is HR responsible for compliance? ›
Often, within a company, the bulk of the compliance work falls under the human resources (HR) umbrella. HR professionals are responsible for understanding which compliances must be met. They are also responsible for communicating those needs and developing ways for employees to meet them.What is HR audit and compliance? ›
An HR compliance audit focuses on how well your business is complying with current local, state, and federal employment laws and regulations. This is a risk mitigation audit. Your goal is to ensure you aren't violating any laws or leaving yourself open to liability lawsuits.How does HR contribute to accountability? ›
While human resources teams are usually in charge of enforcing accountability—tracking employee performance to monitor whether employees are meeting goals or falling behind—they also need to be held accountable to help ensure that HR department goals are met.What are the roles and responsibilities of compliance department? ›
A compliance department typically has five areas of responsibility—identification, prevention, monitoring and detection, resolution, and advisory. A compliance department identifies risks that an organization faces and advises on how to avoid or address them.What is the difference between compliance and ethics? ›
With compliance, the boundary is defined by a law, rule, regulation or policy and adherence is mandatory. Ethics, though, involves judgment and making choices about conduct that reflect values: right and wrong or good and bad.How does compliance benefit employees? ›
The main benefits of a strong workplace compliance program include: Prevents illegal or unethical actions committed by uniformed employees. Encourages reporting of illegal and unethical actions of administrators, managers, and colleagues. Reduces the likelihood for waste, fraud, abuse, discrimination, and corruption.What is a key risk indicator for HR? ›
These KRIs are most commonly utilized by HR departments or companies that deal with staffing and recruitment. Common KRI options include labor shortages, high staff turnover, low staff satisfaction or low recruiting conversion.What are the key HR risks? ›
- Workplace Culture. ...
- Workers Comp Injuries, Medical Costs, and Lost Productivity. ...
- Employment-related Lawsuits. ...
- Employee Benefits Liability. ...
- Theft & Embezzlement. ...
- Training & Competency. ...
What is HR Compliance Training? HR compliance training is the process of educating staff members on the policies and laws that affect their day-to-day workplace roles. It helps prevent your organization from violating the law and passing the audit for HR compliance, among other workplace problems.What are 4 compliance risks? ›
Common compliance risks involve illegal practices and include fraud, theft, bribery, money laundering and embezzlement.What are the 6 categories of compliance risk? ›
- Privacy breaches. ...
- Environmental and sustainability concerns. ...
- Corrupt and illegal practices. ...
- Process risks. ...
- Health and safety. ...
- Employee behavior.
HIPAA comprises three areas of compliance: technical, administrative, and physical.How do you address compliance issues? ›
- Always Start With a Risk Assessment. ...
- Managing Compliance Risk is All About Third Parties. ...
- Understand the Latest Enforcement Policies. ...
- Don't Forget to Build a Culture of Ethics and Compliance. ...
- Ensure People Feel Free to Speak Up. ...
- Continuously Monitor and Update Your Compliance Efforts.
- Conflicts of Interest.
- Embezzlement or Fraud.
- Ethical Standards Violations.
- Medical Billing Irregularities. Billing for services not rendered or items not provided. ...
- Patient Privacy Rights / Other Patient Rights.
- Policy Violations.
- Leadership development. ...
- Employee health and well-being. ...
- Employee onboarding. ...
- New-hire training. ...
- Remote workforce management. ...
- Employee experience. ...
- Measuring HR effectiveness. ...
- Compensation and benefits.
HR deals with many issues, but probably the biggest challenges facing HR Departments today are Recruitment, Retention & Motivation, Leadership Development and Corporate Culture.What is a compliance issue at work? ›
Compliance issues are issues that relate to organizations and individual employees regarding laws, regulations, rules, guidelines, and ethics that govern specific organizations and specific industries companies operate in.What is the golden rule of HR? ›
Every decision in HR should automatically be held to the Golden Rule: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself” (from Wikipedia).
It includes manpower planning, selection, training and development, placement, wage and salary administration, promotion, transfer, separation, performance appraisal, grievance handling, welfare administration, job evaluation and merit rating, and exit interview.What are the three pillars of HR strategy? ›
The Three Pillars of Human Resource Management: Strategic Planning. Workforce Development. Performance Management.What are the six key elements of strategic human resource management? ›
Any basic strategy involves an HR framework of the following pattern: recruitment, selection, onboarding, training, work environment, performance, development and reward.What are the 7 HR basics? ›
What are the basics of Human Resource Management? Recruitment & selection, performance management, learning & development, succession planning, compensation and benefits, Human Resources Information Systems, and HR data and analytics are considered cornerstones of effective HRM.What is HR checklist? ›
What should be on an HR checklist? Checklists can outline key HR processes, including: Open positions (how to request and fill an open or new position) Onboarding new employees (identifying paperwork that needs to be completed) Offboarding/exit interview process.What are HR 7 stages? ›
The employee lifecycle model is used to identify the various stages an employee goes through during their engagement with your company. The 7 stages include attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, exit, and advocacy.What is the purpose of an HR compliance checklist quizlet? ›
What is the purpose of an HR compliance checklist? To help ensure that the organization fulfills the requirements of HR laws and regulations (HR audits and compliance checklists are often used to help ensure compliance with laws and regulations.What goes in the human resources audit checklist? ›
HR Audit Checklist finds the noncompliance fields of the company. It's done to lessen the future threats that a company might face. All the HR attributes like recruitment, payroll, retention, training, onboarding, salary, compensation & performance management undergo inspection.What is the purpose of a compliance plan? ›
Key Takeaways. Compliance programs outline a set of guidelines and best practices that ensure a company's employees are following all relevant laws and regulations. Compliance programs help corporations protect their brand from scandal and lawsuits.What is the purpose of compliance management in an organization? ›
Compliance management is important because noncompliance may result in fines, security breaches, loss of certification, or other damage to your business. Staying on top of compliance changes and updates prevents disruption of your business processes and saves money.
- 1: Financial Compliance.
- 2: IT And Data Compliance.
- 3: Health And Safety Compliance.
- 4: Legal Compliance.
Understanding the Compliance Department
A compliance department typically has five areas of responsibility—identification, prevention, monitoring and detection, resolution, and advisory. A compliance department identifies risks that an organization faces and advises on how to avoid or address them.
There are two main types of compliance; corporate and regulatory. Both types of compliance involve a framework of regulations, practices, and rules to follow.What are the five audit checklist? ›
The process used to populate the actual tasks included in each section varies, based upon the audit scope, the tools used to manage the audit and the experience of the audit staff. There are five sections to every audit checklist: scope, evidence collection, audit tests, analysis of results and conclusion.What are the 3 steps in HR audit process? ›
Develop the audit questionnaire. Collect the data. Benchmark the findings.What should be included in an audit checklist? ›
- Financial Documentation. Financial statements. General ledger with all transactions documented (covering fiscal year) ...
- Internal Control Documentation. Org charts. Personnel manual. ...
- Other Relevant Information. Major contracts with suppliers and/or customers. Investment activities summary.
- Policies & Procedures.
- Chief Compliance Officer/Compliance Committee.
- Education & Training.
- Monitoring & Auditing.
- Responding To Issues.
- Risk Assessment.
- Standards and Controls.
- Training and Communications.
Nonretaliation and nonintimidation are crucial elements of effective compliance programs. People will not participate if they fear they will lose their jobs for reporting potential issues.