How to Stay Up-to-Date on Changing Employment Laws and Regulations

How Do HR Professionals Research Laws and Regulations?

Staying up-to-date on ever changing employment laws is a challenge even when you have a great team to help you.
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How do professional Human Resources practitioners keep up-to-date on federal and state policy issues and laws that affect the areas for which HR is responsible? Laws and policies are ever-changing and they vary from state to state and in various world-wide countries. The variation is even greater if you serve an international team because you have employees in more than one country.

For example, healthcare, labor and employment laws, retirement, injury, and worker’s compensation, unemployment, paid time off, and other laws and regulations that affect employment all deserve constant attention. In a frequently encountered question, HR professionals ask whether a database or some other resource exists that will help HR practitioners keep track of state, federal, and international HR-related policies?

The Bad News About Keeping Up With State, Federal, Local, and International HR Resources

Lacking a single source to recommend for keeping up-to-date with the US and worldwide employment laws and regulations, most HR managers have cobbled together a number of ways to keep track of changing laws and policies.

Most people who work in HR have created a similar list. It's not the best, but it does help keep HR managers up-to-date on the laws and regulations. This is increasingly important in this litigious world in the US. Worldwide is perhaps better but you still want to follow the law.

Employment law questions are part of the workday, pretty much every day, when you work in HR. It seems that every employee's situation is an exception so you struggle to treat employees fairly and with a consistent approach. You want to make wise decisions for the business but you want to look out for the interests of employees as well.

You know that you are setting precedents for other employees every time that you make a decision so you must take that into consideration, too. All of this thinking and decision making is in addition to knowing and understanding existing case law and recent court decisions. It also recognizes the friction that can exist between the interests of the employees and the interests of the organization.

Resources for Staying Up-to-Date in HR

Following are resources that HR professionals and managers can use to stay up-to-date on issues relating to the legal and ethical practice of HR services.

Society for Human Resource Management Services

Subscribe to the Society for Human Resource Management's legislative updates. To receive them, you definitely need to become a member. They have other useful newsletters and tools and access to the website is important for staying abreast of changing laws and regulations. They offer a lot of free content, but the most important articles and policy samples reside behind a paid-only firewall.

Use the Services of Additional Professional Associations

Depending on your specific interests, job title, and job description, additional associations exist that you may want to consider joining. These are 12 of the best known. They each have a different reason for existing with a distinct mission.

Contract With an Employment Law Attorney

The most important way that many companies are kept up-to-date, though, is to have an employment law attorney on a contract and their office sends legislative updates for anything going on in your state or at the federal level. For example, substantial guides to the Affordable Care Act changes have been a priority as have been best practices for returning to work.

Hire an attorney who takes time to know you, who understands your company culture and the goals that you have with your employees.

Subscribe to Government Publications From Relevant Departments

Subscribe to email updates from the Department of Labor and subscribe to email updates from your state Department of Labor (or its equivalent), too. Every state has an equivalent organization that deals with employment law and rules and regulations for the specific state. You can find links to the state offices on the DOL website. Many countries have an office dedicated to employment as well. All of their organization names vary but they all help you stay in the know.

Public Sector Resources

Public sector employment: no opportunity exists that will let you check all states' regulations at one location. People with a specific state or country question need to contact their equivalent of a department of labor, cited above. HR professionals have also found "State and Local Government on the Net" and "Federal Public Sector Employment Law Toolkit" which provide some links to topics, useful in their professional HR work.

Privately Owned Websites

The best private-sector sites for HR information provide some free content but many of them have become paid sites. It is impossible to stay abreast of all private sector sites especially since so much of their content is behind a paywall. You might look at sites such as these that also offer tons of free content in addition. They are in no particular order as they all have fine offerings.

It's impossible to keep up with all the laws that have an impact on this site's worldwide audience without the assistance of the above resources.

The Bottom Line

To emphasize the most important source of information, one more time: find a professional, knowledgeable attorney and make him or her a part of your HR team. Provide the time necessary for the attorney to understand your approach to employees and your company culture. You'll be happy that you did.