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HR Policies: Legal & Industry Regulations

Instructor: Nick Chandler
Many different things influence HR policies in organizations. In this lesson, we'll take a look at some of the ways that legal and industry regulations can affect policy.

The Need for HR Policies

The human resources department of an organization has a lot of responsibility. They have to make sure that the hiring process is fair, the workplace is safe, and employees meet a certain standard of behavior, such as showing up on time or treating others with respect. But the responsibilities don't end there. HR professionals must also ensure that the company complies with legal and industry regulations so that the company is protected from liability and employee lawsuits.

The HR department uses different strategies to achieve their goals, but the one strategy that is the most common involves clearly defined HR policies. These policies establish standards and guidelines for the company on everything from staffing and benefits to employee behavior, promotions and discipline. A lot of different things influence the development of HR policy, including legal and industry regulations. In this lesson, we'll explore some examples of the regulations that might have the most impact.

Legal Regulations

It is in the interest of government and industry to make sure that the rights of employees and employers are protected, so federal and state laws are passed to ensure that employees are treated fairly, remain safe and healthy in the workplace, receive fair compensation and benefits, and so on. Let's have a look at some examples of these laws and explore how they might have an effect on HR policies and procedures.

Anti-Discrimination Policy

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 prohibits wage discrimination based on gender, which means that men and women must be paid equally for equal work in the same company. HR policies might ensure compliance of this law by stating that pay must be equal regardless of gender. They might also establish procedures to ensure pay equality, such as researching average wages in the industry, keeping job profiles up to date for comparison and frequently monitoring the compensation structure.

Safety Policy

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 is a federal law that requires employers to provide a safe work environment. HR policy may include making sure that all employees are aware of health and safety standards. In practical terms, this might involve a yearly training course for all employees on what to do in case of a fire or training on how to safely work with manufacturing equipment or other machinery. The procedures for this policy might also require factory managers to record the number and type of accidents each month or for every department to have at least one employee who is fully trained in first aid.

Sexual Harassment Policy

Sexual harassment in the workplace means unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. This harassment is considered sex discrimination, which was made illegal by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment can take different forms, including a decision to employ someone based on whether the person accepted or rejected a sexual advance or request for a sexual favor. Sexual favors could be used as a condition for promotion, receiving rewards, training, a favorable performance appraisal or other benefits. HR policy will therefore prohibit any form of sexual harassment, and the HR department may set up a reporting procedure to ensure that employees feel comfortable reporting sexual harassment.

Industry Regulations

Government regulations can be very industry specific. Although some industry regulations are voluntary and based on best practices, many are associated with laws or governing agencies. For example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates e-commerce industries and activities, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the impact of manufacturing, agriculture, and other industries on the environment. There are some industry regulations that can specifically impact HR policies, too. Let's take a look at a couple of examples.

Drug Testing Policy

The U.S. Department of Transportation has established drug and alcohol testing regulations for the transportation industry to ensure the safety of all people on the road. HR policies in this industry should have established procedures for pre-employment drug testing, random testing, post-accident testing and other types of testing. The HR policy should also follow regulations in regards to test reporting, follow-up testing, rehabilitation and termination.

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