United States » Laws and Regulations » Employment & Labor Laws - Part II

Employment & Labor Laws - Part II

Laws and Regulations

Employing People with Disabilities

Employers must comply with certain legal requirements concerning the accommodation of employees with disabilities. Beyond just complying with these requirements, an increasing number of employers are taking advantage of programs that encourage hiring and recruiting people with disabilities, as well as tax credits to help cover the cost of accommodations for employees with disabilities.

If you are a new employer or new to employing people with disabilities, start by reading the Guide to Disability Rights Laws. This guide summarizes the major disability laws affecting employers, governments, schools and other organizations.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires an employer with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities, unless it would cause undue hardship. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way a job is performed that enables a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.

The following resources will help you comply with the ADA.

Hiring People with Disabilities

Employer Resources

Employment Services

  • EARNworks.com
    Assistance for employers with recruitment and informational resources that will connect them to employment service providers who have access to job ready candidates in their community.

Worksite Accommodations

Federal Tax Incentives

Vocational Rehabilitation

Veterans

  • Become a Hire Vets First Employer
    Information on how employers can show support for the HireVetsFirst program.
  • Labor Laws and Veterans
    The U.S. Department of Labor assists veterans, reservists, and National Guard members in securing employment; promotes equal employment opportunity on behalf of veterans who have served on active duty during a war or in a campaign or expedition; and advises on the rights and responsibilities of reservists and National Guard members who are called to active duty under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The Department also enforces two equal employment opportunity programs that protect veterans and apply to federal contractors and subcontractors.
  • USERRA Guide
    The Guide contains general information about the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) Advisor
    The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) Advisor helps Veterans and employers understand employee eligibility and job entitlements, employer obligations, benefits and remedies under the Act.
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) Information
    Guide to USERRA regulations, fact sheets, and compliance materials.

Employee Benefits

There are two types of employee benefits: (1) those the employer must provide by law; and (2) those the employer offers as an option to compensate their employees. Examples of required benefits include social security and workers' compensation, while optional benefits include health care and retirement. Both required and optional benefits have both legal and tax implications for the employer. SBA's Managing Employee Benefits explains types of health and retirement plans and provides tips on setting up an employee benefits plan.

This guide helps employers understand what they need to do to supply employee benefits required by law, as well as steps they need to take to comply with regulations covering optional employee benefit plans.

For requirements specific to third-party employee benefit plan administrators and fiduciaries, visit Requirements Plan Sponsors, Administrators and Fiduciaries

Required Benefits

Social Security Taxes

Every employer must pay social security taxes at the same rate paid by their employees. The Social Security Administration offers information about how to file an employer W-2 form, how to hire employees not covered by social security, and other information for employers:

Unemployment Insurance

Businesses with employees are required to pay unemployment insurance taxes under certain conditions. If your business is required to pay these taxes, you must register your business with your state's workforce agency. The State Taxes page includes links to your state's agency.

Workers Compensation

Businesses with employees are required to carry Workers' Compensation Insurance coverage through a commercial carrier, on a self-insured basis, or through the state Workers' Compensation Insurance program. Visit your state's Workers' Compensation Office more information on your state's program.

Disability Insurance

Some states require employers to provide partial wage replacement insurance coverage to their eligible employees for non-work related sickness or injury. Currently, if your employees are located in any of the following states, you are required to purchase disability insurance:

  • California - Employment Development Department
  • Hawaii - Unemployment Insurance Division
  • New Jersey - Dept of Labor and Workforce Development
  • New York - New York State Workers' Compensation Board
  • Puerto Rico - Departamento del Trabajo y Recursos Humanos / Department of Labor and Human Resources
  • Rhode Island - Rhode Island Dept of Labor and Training

Leave Benefits

The majority of common leave benefits offered by employers are not required by federal law, and offered to employees as part of the employer's overall compensation and benefits plan. These leave benefits include holiday/vacation, jury duty, personal leave, sick leave, and funeral/bereavement leave. However, employers are required to provide leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Family and Medical Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides an entitlement of up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period to eligible, covered employees for the following reasons: 1) birth and care of the eligible employee's child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee; 2) care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition; or 3) care of the employee's own serious health condition. FMLA requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave. FMLA applies to private employers with 50 or more employees, and to all public employers. The following resources provide employers with information on how to comply with FMLA:

Health Plans

COBRA Benefits

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) provides certain former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates.  Businesses are required to provide COBRA when employees are terminated or laid off. The following resources describe an employer's requirements under COBRA.

Retirement Plans and Pensions

Selecting a Plan

Types of Plans

  • Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) Plans Retirement Plans for Small Business
    This booklet provides information on SEP Retirement plans as an option for small businesses. The publication describes the plan's features and provides assistance to establish and maintain the plan.
  • SIMPLE IRA Plans for Small Businesses
    This booklet explains the SIMPLE (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees of Small Employers) IRA Plan. SIMPLE IRAs provide employers and their employees with a simplified way to contribute toward retirement.
  • Payroll Deduction IRAs For Small Businesses Want to help your employees save for retirement but don't want the responsibility of an employee benefit plan? Think about a payroll deduction IRA program.
  • 401(k) Plans For Small Businesses
    This publication jointly from the Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service provides information on 401(k) plans as a retirement plan option. The publication provides assistance in how to establish and maintain the plan and discusses the various features of this type of savings plan.
  • 401(k) Plan Fees Disclosure Form (PDF Version)
    This form was created by the Investment Company Institute, the American Bankers Association, and the American Council of Life Insurers for an employer to provide to prospective service providers to its retirement plan to assist the employer in making 'apples to apples' comparisons of services and fees.
  • 401(k) Plan Fees Disclosure Form (Microsoft Word Version)
    This form was created by the Investment Company Institute, the American Bankers Association, and the American Council of Life Insurers for an employer to provide to prospective service providers to its retirement plan to assist the employer in making 'apples to apples' comparisons of services and fees.

Employee Benefits: Requirements for Plan Administrators and Fiduciaries

The following resources help employee benefit plan administrators and fiduciaries comply with federal laws and regulations, including the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  Find out about new laws and issues from the experts through the Health Benefits Education Campaign.

To assist employee benefit plan officials in understanding and complying with the requirements of ERISA, the U.S. Department of Labor has provided Employee Benefits and Retirement Plans : Compliance Assistance Guide as an overall reference guide.

Health Plans

  • Health Benefits Coverage Under Federal Law : Compliance Assistance Guide
    This booklet provides general descriptions and FAQs on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, the Mental Health Parity Act, and the Women's' Health and Cancer Rights Act. It also includes a self compliance tool, a chart summarizing the notice requirements under the laws and model notices that can be used to comply.
  • Find It! By Topic : Health Benefit Plans
    Provides shortcuts to information and services the Department of Labor (DOL) offers employers and health plan practitioners.

COBRA

  • COBRA Model Election Notice
    A group health plan must provide qualified beneficiaries with an election notice that describes their rights to continuation coverage and how to make an election within 14 days of receiving a notice of a qualifying event. This model notice was created in a format easy for an employer to download and use for its plan to comply with this requirement.
  • COBRA Model General Notice
    Group health plans must give each employee and each spouse covered under the plan a general notice describing COBRA rights within 90 days of coverage. This model notice was created in a format easy for an employer to download and use for its plan to comply with this requirement.
  • Spanish Language COBRA Model Election Notice
    A plan must provide qualified beneficiaries with an election notice describing their rights to continuation coverage and how to make an election within 14 days of receiving a notice of a qualifying event. This model notice was created in Spanish in a format easy for an employer to download and use for its plan to comply with this requirement.
  • Spanish Language COBRA Model General Notice
    Group health plans must give each employee and each spouse covered under the plan a general notice describing COBRA rights within 90 days of coverage. This model notice was created in Spanish in a format easy for an employer to download and use for its plan to comply with this requirement.
  • Chart of Required Notices for Part 7 of ERISA
    A chart summarizing the notice requirements of Part 7 of ERISA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Newborns' and Mothers' Health Protection Act, Mental Health Parity Act and Women's' Health and Cancer Rights Act).

HIPAA

Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements (MEWAs)

Retirement Plans and Pensions

Tools and Resources

  • Compliance Assistance: Retirement Benefits
    The Department of Labor offers this overview guiding, providing links to retirement benefits resources.
  • Understanding Retirement Plan Fees and Expenses
    This booklet helps plan sponsors and other plan fiduciaries better understand and evaluate plan fees and expenses. While the focus is on fees and expenses involved with 401(k) plans, many of the principles discussed in the booklet also will have application to all types of retirement plans.
  • Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program Online Calculator
    A compliance assistance tool to facilitate accuracy, ensure consistency, and expedite review of applications to the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program. The Online Calculator assists applicants in calculating VFCP Correction Amounts owed to benefit plans.

Reporting and Auditing Requirements

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders

Legal Notices and Bulletins

  • Class Exemptions for Employee Benefit Plans
    An index of Class Exemptions granted by EBSA providing issue statements to help find relevant information.
  • Enrolled Actuaries Meeting Bluebooks
    Links to summaries of the questions and answers (in PDF format) discussed at annual meetings of Enrolled Actuaries and published under the auspices of the Enrolled Actuaries Meeting. Made available here as a public service.
  • ERISA (Title I) Advisory Opinions
    An index of advisory opinions issued by EBSA providing interpretations of the statute and regulation sections. The index highlights the issues considered to help find relevant information.
  • EXPRO Exemptions for Employee Benefit Plans
    An index of exemptions issued by EBSA under the EXPRO exemption to assist plan officials to search for similar exemptions to use when applying for the expedited review under the EXPRO program.
  • Field Assistance Bulletins on Benefit Plans
    An index of Field Assistance Bulletins issued by EBSA providing guidance to the regional offices to clarify issues arising in enforcement activities. The index provides issues statements to help find relevant information.
  • Individual Exemptions Granted for Employee Benefit Plans
    An index of individual exemptions granted by EBSA providing issue statements to help find relevant information.
  • Information Letters on Benefit Plans
    An index of information letters issued by EBSA providing information on health and retirement benefit plan statutory and regulatory issues. The index provides issues considered to help find relevant information.

Wage and Hour Laws

Here you will find information to help small businesses comply with Federal wage and hour laws.

Fair Labor Standards

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees.

  • Handy Reference Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act
    The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act Advisor
    The FLSA Advisor provides help on complying with the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor and recordkeeping laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act : Compliance Assistance
    Compliance assistance resources from the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor concerning various requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act Overtime Security Advisor
    This tool helps workers and employers identify workers who are entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay protections.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act Section 14(c) Advisor
    Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act authorizes employers, after receiving a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, to pay special minimum wages wages less than the Federal minimum wage to workers who have disabilities for the work being performed. This Advisor helps to make the rules more understandable.
  • Work Hours and Other Pay Issues
    Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the term work hours generally refers to time spent by employees performing work for their employers for which they are entitled to compensation. Federal laws pertaining to work hours are enforced by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration. The Wage and Hour Division offers a range of guidance materials available on the subject of work hours.

Minimum Wage Laws

  • State Minimum Wage Laws
    A map linking to information on state minimum wage laws.
  • Minimum Wage FAQs
    Answers questions ranging from "how often does the minimum wage increase" to "who ensures that workers are paid at least the minimum wage.
  • Notice to Workers Paid Special Minimum Wages
    Every employer of workers with disabilities under special minimum wage certificates authorized by the Fair Labor Standards Act, the McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act, and/or the Walsh-Healey Public Contracts Act shall display a poster prescribed by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division explaining the conditions under which special minimum wages may be paid.

Overtime Pay

Equal Pay

Wage Garnishment

Wages Laws for Specific Types of Workers

Federal Contactors

  • Wages under Federal Contracts
    The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division administers laws and regulations requiring minimum wages and fringe benefits to be paid to workers performing construction work on federally-funded contracts or providing services to the federal government.

Foreign Labor

  • Wages under Foreign Labor Certification
    The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary or permanent basis to perform certain types of work. The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration generally grants certification to employers to obtain special visas in order to hire foreign workers in cases where there are insufficient qualified U.S. workers available and willing to perform work at wages that meet or exceed the prevailing wage paid for that occupation in the area of intended employment.

Seasonal and Migrant Workers

  • Migrant and Seasonal Workers Protection Act : Compliance Assistance
    The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act removes the restraints on commerce caused by activities detrimental to migrant and seasonal agricultural workers; requires farm labor contractors to register under this Act; and assures necessary protections for migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, agricultural associations, and agricultural employers.
  • Wages in Agriculture
    This page provides information on the obligations of employers of agricultural workers, including migrant and seasonal agricultural workers.

General Resources

More information about Federal employment laws.

  • FirstStep Employment Law Advisor
    The FirstStep Employment Law Advisor is designed to help employers determine which laws administered by the Department of Labor apply to their business or organization and to provide links to information about how to comply with these laws.
  • Find It! By Topic : Wages
    Provides a shortcut to the information and services the Department of Labor offers on wages.
  • Find It! By Topic : Work Hours
    Provides a shortcut to the information and services the Department of Labor offers on worked hours.
  • Wages and Hours Worked
    The U.S. Department of Labor administers several laws that affect the wages and hours of covered workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires payment of no less than the federal minimum wage for each hour worked and time and one-half the employee's regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in the workweek for non-exempt workers. Most migrant and seasonal workers engaged in agriculture are protected by the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act. The Immigration and Nationality Act allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary or permanent basis to perform certain types of work.

Employment Discrimination and Harassment

Since the Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960's, federal and state governments have passed a number of laws protecting employees from discrimination based on factors not directly related to the quality of an individual's work. Employers are responsible for understanding anti-discrimination regulations to ensure employees are protected from discrimination and harassment on the job. In addition, employers must keep records

What You Need to Know

The following resources provide basic information about equal employment opportunity laws and regulations applicable to the workplace.

 

 

Drug Free Workplace Policies

With the exception of a select number of companies doing business with the federal government and some state governments, employers are not required by law to create a drug-free workplace policy. However, creating these policies is becoming standard business practice. The federal government provides a number of resources to help you create an alcohol and drug-free policy for your company:

For Employers

For Federal Contractors and Grantees

The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires some Federal contractors and all Federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a condition of receiving a contract or grant from a Federal agency. Visit the Drug-Free Workplace Advisor to learn more about these requirements and if they apply to your business

Drug Free Workplace Policies

With the exception of a select number of companies doing business with the federal government and some state governments, employers are not required by law to create a drug-free workplace policy. However, creating these policies is becoming standard business practice. The federal government provides a number of resources to help you create an alcohol and drug-free policy for your company:

For Employers

For Federal Contractors and Grantees

The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires some Federal contractors and all Federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a condition of receiving a contract or grant from a Federal agency. Visit the Drug-Free Workplace Advisor to learn more about these requirements and if they apply to your business

Workers' Compensation

Both federal and state governments administer workers' compensation programs that provide wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation, and other benefits to employers or their dependents who are injured at work or acquire an occupational disease.

State Requirements

Businesses with employees are required to carry Workers' Compensation Insurance coverage through a commercial carrier, on a self-insured basis, or through a state Workers' Compensation Insurance program.

See the state workers' compensation directory to find more information about your state's workers' compensation requirements.

Federal Programs

The Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers two major disability compensation programs that provide benefits to specific types of employee groups. If your businesses employs one of these groups, you may be subject to additional workers' compensation requirements.

Coal Mining - Black Lund Benefits

The Black Lung Benefits Act provides monthly payments and medical benefits to coal miners totally disabled from pneumoconiosis (black lung disease) arising from their employment in or around the nation's coal mines. The Act also provides monthly benefits to a miner's dependent survivors.

Longshore and Harbors Workers' Compensation

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provides employment-injury and occupational-disease protection to workers who are injured or contract occupational diseases occurring on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas, and for certain other classes of workers covered by extensions of this Act.

Terminating Employees

No manager enjoys firing an employee, especially during tough economic times or when workers are in high demand. However terminations are a fact of life for business owners. Just as hiring and managing employees involves several legal steps, so does firing or laying off employees.

The resources in this section will help you comply with laws and regulations when you terminate an employee or otherwise downsize your company or layoff workers.

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Employment & Labor Laws - Part II