The human resource department is responsible for compliance of a multitude of employment- and workplace-related laws. Most human resource managers also are responsible for training other key management personnel to ensure these laws are being upheld throughout the company. The most common laws that affect HR decisions and actions involve equal employment opportunities, discrimination, labor laws and medical leaves of absence.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the law that governs minimum wages, overtime pay for employees that work over 40 hours in one week, child labor laws and record keeping requirements. This law was first enacted in 1938, and has been revised many times since its inception. The United States Department of Labor provides an Internet program that explains each aspect of this law and its relation to business management and human resources management.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act was enacted in 1970. These laws are governed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and require company compliance with a variety of laws that protect workers from unsafe work environments. This act also provides a safety net for employees who act as whistle blowers when unsafe conditions are present in the workplace. Human resource departments or business owners are required to keep documentation of all hazardous materials used, report injuries or deaths that occur and provide proper training for any dangerous jobs in the workplace.
The Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1973. This law protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or sex.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 makes it illegal for companies to pay different wages based on gender for employees of the same position and responsibility level.
The Americans With Disabilities Act was enacted in 1993. This law prohibits discrimination against employees with disabilities and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations in the workplace to enable disabled employees to succeed at their jobs.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was enacted in 1967. This law protects employees and applicants over the age of 40 from being discriminated against in the workplace or during the hiring process.
The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows employees that have worked with a company for twelve months or more the ability to take twelve weeks of leave, without pay, during any twelve month period. The acceptable reasons for taking leave include the birth of a child, adopting or becoming a foster parent, care of a child, spouse or parent that is seriously ill or when the employee is seriously ill. When the employee returns to the workplace after the leave they must be given a position of equal pay and responsibility as the position held prior to the leave of absence.