Skip to content

Are you in compliance? 5 federal employee rights acts and employer regulations you need to know


Even the most scrupulous and caring employers may fall short of fulfilling their legally-mandated duties to take care of their employees simply because they are unaware of all the complex federal employee rights acts and employer regulations.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) oversees dozens of employee rights acts and employer regulations, including the five described below. Making sure your business meets the laws and regulations of these acts can safeguard you and your company from legal trouble, and ensure that your employees receive the appropriate treatment and protections granted to them under the law.

1.  Employment Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)

Many relationships in life are based on trust, including those between an employer and his employees. And, while honesty may be an integral part of your workplace, the DOL strictly prohibits the use of polygraphs and other psycho-physiological evaluators of lying – even on a voluntary basis. Some private firms, such as those in a security-related industry, may be able to use a polygraph under extremely limited circumstances.

2.  Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

Whether you own a farm or a dotcom, you may find yourself in need of labor not readily available stateside. Before diving headfirst into an overseas search for prospective employees, peruse the DOL’s employer regulations on foreign workers. In short, all employers must complete an Employment Eligibility Verification, or I-9 form, which must be kept on file.

3.  Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN)

While small businesses may not be affected by this DOL act, its principle may help any business owner get through the rough patch that accompanies layoffs. Under WARN, companies that employ 100 or more employees must notify their workers 60 calendar days before major layoffs occur.

4.  Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

Under USERRA, you cannot refuse to employ someone solely because of his or her veteran status or intent to serve. Also, you must rehire previously employed individuals after they return from serving. However, returning troops have a specific timeframe during which they must inform you of their desire to return to the company; and you don’t have to rehire dishonorably or punitively discharged troops.

5.  Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

Although supplying your employees with health care coverage may be well under your radar, this two-pronged reform sets various guidelines for employee benefits. ERISA requires employers who provide an employee pension plan to follow certain rules, such as fulfilling a minimum funding requirement.

COBRA and HIPAA, two health care related amendments to ERISA, require employers to follow guidelines when providing employees with health insurance. Under COBRA, employers must provide employees with health care benefits for a limited time after voluntary or involuntary job loss, as well as unexpected circumstances. HIPPA prohibits an employer’s health care plan from denying employees coverage or discriminating based on pre-existing conditions or disabilities.

Complying with federal employee rights acts and employer regulations is important; noncompliance puts your company’s financial health and existence at severe risk. Consider protecting your company and your employees by outsourcing your HR responsibilities to Insperity, a professional employer organization.