“Compliance” can be an intimidating idea for an organization’s leadership. Tracking compliance for a local team, who work in-person, and who have excellent support from Human Resources is difficult enough. But add to this a significant number of people working remotely (35% of US workers), and tracking the legal requirements for a team living in different states (with different local regulations) can become a nightmare.

So, how do you best handle compliance for a living, changing organization? In this article, we’re outlining HR Compliance and four best practices you should be following to stay compliant in today’s changing workplace.

What is HR Compliance?

HR compliance is creating and aligning the policies and processes of your workplace with the relevant laws and regulations, including industry- and location-specific (local, state, federal, and global) regulations. Compliance is a major function of a Human Resources or People department (although this is generally done in coordination with any legal teams or advisors to ensure correct interpretation of the law), and HR teams are responsible for setting up, enforcing, and maintaining compliance regulations for your organization. Compliance with the law is fundamental to the way today’s organizations operate, from hiring practices and payroll to internal workplace behavior. As such, your company policies must take applicable laws and regulations into account in everything you do.

In addition, things like regular, required training and data security can be shaped by state and local regulations. And when any legal updates or changes to these laws and regulations occur, you’re expected to comply once again with new trainings and initiatives.

4 best practices for maintaining HR compliance

If tackling a large number of compliance requirements — and maintaining them over the long-term — makes you nervous, you’re not alone. There’s a lot to consider, so here are the top four best practices to keep in mind as you assess your own compliance needs.

1. Pay attention to regional differences, like state- or country-specific laws

This is especially important if you work with a remote or hybrid team with employees working in different cities, states, or countries. This can be a major challenge for HR teams to tackle, since regional regulations can cover a large range of essential workplace-related policies, like:

  • Mandated training
  • Parental leave
  • Scheduling and breaks
  • Wage and overtime laws

If your team is spread across multiple locations, one way to save your team time and effort is to onboard a human resources information system (HRIS) or compliance training software that automatically flags these local regulations for you. For example, Ethena’s training platform automatically:

  • Delineates every employee’s location and managerial status
  • Delivers appropriate training to each individual employee
  • Provides completion and engagement data for administrators to track compliance metrics at a glance

2. Stay in touch with legal changes

If you’re not already following your own resource for legal updates, you’d likely be surprised by how often workplace regulations and labor laws are updated. And ever-changing labor laws make sense: just think, how much has the workforce changed in the past five years alone?

HR compliance teams need to stay on top of changes in the legal landscape in order to adjust company policies to meet new regulations as they go into effect. New York’s recent implementation of wage transparency in job listings is a great example of this (we’re big fans of wage transparency, and of making job descriptions more accessible in general).

Looking for a good place to start tracking these changes? We recommend checking out SHRM’s State & Local Updates page.

3. Document your policies and procedures

Putting your policies in writing — like in a Code of Conduct — and also documenting your procedures for all things related to compliance (e.g. hiring, payroll, PTO, family, and medical leave, compliance training, reporting, etc.) is a major step in ensuring your team is operating with consistency.

By implementing a Code of Conduct, it sets these expectations early (and regularly through compliance check ins), and ensures they’re easy for your team to find. This helps keep your company aligned on what appropriate behavior looks like and what resources are available to your team.

4. Stay on top of your training requirements, and make training easy to access

Depending on your specific industry and where your employees are located, you may have specific training requirements for your employees, like Harassment Prevention or Anti-Bribery & Corruption training.

These training requirements vary by state, so pay close attention if you’re working with multiple office locations or a remote team. Additionally, you’ll need to track any changes to local law for your employees as it relates to training, like Chicago’s recent changes that require additional sexual harassment training for employees living in the city.

If you’re using a training platform like Ethena, the correct training is automatically delivered to employees based on their location and managerial status, and any updates to local regulations are reflected within the training content. Plus, Ethena’s Customer Success team works alongside administrators to ensure your bases are covered.

Track your compliance needs with a simple HR compliance checklist

As you’re going over the compliance needs for your organization, you may find the following checklist useful in making sure all of your bases are covered with HR compliance!

HR compliance checklist

  • Company Policies and Procedures. Set up internal guidelines that establish the rules and expectations of the company, in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. This is often documented as the company’s Employee Handbook, Code of Conduct, and other internal written policies.
  • Compliance with Applicable Laws and Regulations. Double check your compliance with local, state, or federal laws and regulations, including employment laws (minimum hourly wage, anti-discrimination laws, working minimum age) and other regulations that can be relevant to employees (e.g. GDPR, HIPAA, CPRA).
  • Contractual Compliance. Take an assessment of your adherence to any contractual agreements with employees.
  • Union Considerations. Does your company need to adhere to union laws, such as the NLRA, which applies to most employees in the private sector (including non-union workplaces)?
  • Training Requirements. Review if your employees might be subject to mandatory training requirements. This could depend on their location, managerial status, and industry.
  • International Considerations. Labor laws and regulations can vary by country, as do guidelines and standards set by international entities. Review these considerations to see if there is anything to add to your HR compliance to-do list.

What’s next in your HR compliance journey?

Compliance is no easy (or quick) task. Finding the right compliance solution to save your HR teams time (and money) is essential. Ethena’s training platform automates training assignment, delivery, and compliance tracking so your People teams can focus more on people and less on tracking down annual completion rates.

Talk to a member of our team, or request a sample of our training today!