Employment Legislation: What It Is and Tools to Stay in the Loop

May 10, 2021
Employment legislation has set the precedent for groundbreaking change in the landscape of the modern workforce. Learn about historical landmarks in such legislation along with resources to help you stay in the loop!

Human Resources is a constantly evolving field. While it was once viewed as being exclusively centered around the hiring process and handling employee administrative work, the profession now demands an incredibly multifaceted approach. On top of recruitment and selection, HR departments are now responsible for performance management, creating learning and development opportunities, building contingency plans, knowing the ins and outs of compensation and benefits packages, and staying in the know about employment legislation. The aim of this article is to focus on the last part: employment legislation. In a hectic work environment where there aren’t enough hours in the day, how does an HR leader (or business owners and operations managers for that matter) stay up-to-date on local, statewide, federal, and in some cases international legislative changes?

This article first defines what employment legislation is and its monumental impacts, then offers several ways to stay in the know when it comes to the latest legislative developments. 

What is Employment Legislation?

Simply put, employment legislation establishes and regulates working relationships and conditions between employers and employees. Updates and changes in employment legislation have the potential to impact every facet of an HR department, whether it’s recruitment practices, compensation and employment entitlements, or protocols for redundancies and retirement.

In the workplace, employers and employees often view employment legislation as an added layer of bureaucratic red tape. While in some instances that may be true, employment legislation has afforded workers marquee benefits like guaranteed sick leave and holiday pay. Such legislation has also protected employers and employees from a variety of potential workplace abuses. 

To jog your memory on the importance of employment laws, here are a few noteworthy pieces of legislation that shaped the modern workplace:

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 - While creating major societal changes that reached well beyond the workplace, the Civil Rights Act was also the jumpoff point for ending race-based discrimination in workplace hiring practices. The latter portion of the Civil Rights Act served as the basis for the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a governing body meant to enact the provisions laid out in the legislation. 
  • National Labor Relations Act of 1935 -  Just five years before entering WWII, the United States passed major legislation that gave employees the ability to “form or join unions; engage in protected, concerted activities to address or improve working conditions; or refrain from engaging in these activities.” As we referenced in a recent article, labor unions have since made noteworthy changes to the landscape of the American workforce.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 - We take things like minimum wage laws and time and a half pay for overtime for granted. These modern day normalities weren’t guaranteed before the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938. This historic piece of employment legislation also officially prohibited the employment of minors in “oppressive child labor.”

How to Stay in the Loop With Employment Legislation

Now that we’ve detailed the importance of employment legislation and some of its landmark accomplishments, it’s time to introduce simple ways to keep up with the changes in real time. Here are three ideas to get you started.

The Department of Labor E-Laws Guide

Straight from the horse’s mouth, the Department of Labor’s e-laws guide provides you with quick, easy, and substantive access to employment legislation in the United States. Their guides provide quick and actionable information that both employers and employees can benefit from. 

Reference Up-to-Date HR Management Sources Online

Sources like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute are wells of knowledge and meaningful insight when it comes to the here and now of human resources and global employment legislation. With contributions from top HR professionals based all around the world, you can truly be in the know with the latest in employment legislation. 

HR Compliance Softwares
HR compliance softwares help business owners and HR departments stay on top of the latest developments in business regulations and compliance laws. Whether it’s through the use of automated jurisdiction-specific screening questionnaires or automated payroll compliance, finding the software that matches the unique needs of your business will put your concerns at ease.

Pro Tip: Examine the Fine Print
Last but not least, see it for yourself! Of course, it’s great to utilize the resources referenced above and to take expert opinions and analyses into account. But nothing compares to taking the time to go over the material yourself. Before you read into commentaries and analysis, read through the legislation and then you can fill in the blanks with the perspectives of the experts.    

Key Takeaways

Employment legislation has made immeasurable differences in the modern workplace. As such, it’s of utmost importance that business owners, operations managers, and HR departments are in the loop when it comes to changes in legal matters surrounding employment. There is also the constant need for legal compliance within your human resources, as the failure to do so can result in major legal problems. By understanding the importance of such legislation and its ability to impact the workplace, HR departments have the necessary incentive to stay apprised of legislative developments. Making use of reliable resources such as the DoL’s e-laws guide and trustworthy publications like SHRM and the HR Certification Institute, you can consistently be in the know. Utilize HR compliance softwares to make sure you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s. Through these means, business owners, operations managers, and HR departments are better equipped to handle the inevitable changes and legal reforms coming their way. 

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