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HR Compliance Checklist: The Complete Guide 2021

Whether you are preparing for a United States government audit or just checking your own systems, running an HR compliance audit can be overwhelming. This HR compliance will hold your hand every step of the way with general HR tasks, documents you need, and best HR audit practices. The team at EasyLlama has your back. Once all this is over you will be able to rest easy knowing your company won’t get penalized or fined. 

The complete checklist is broken down into these categories:
  • Recruiting, interviewing, and hiring employees
  • Affirmative Action Plan
  • Business record keeping & the personnel handbook
  • Health records confidentiality
  • Equal Opportunity Commission laws
  • Drug testing, accommodation for disabilities, and harassment prevention
  • Sexual harassment (get your staff trained and compliant with the law)
  • Best techniques on employment policies
  • Employee benefits and payroll compliance
  • Get the proper training before HR audits

Recruiting, Interviewing and Hiring Employees

The first step for your HR checklist is to break down your hiring processes. You have to be very careful about how you figure out if an employee is a proper fit for the company, without turning them down for employment based on illegal factors.

These illegal reasons for not hiring an applicant can vary greatly. They usually consist of pre-employment background checks, polygraph results, drug testing, credit checks, and medical exams. However, the illegal reasons for not hiring that stay pretty consistent are disabilities, color, ancestry, and gender.

Onboarding documents to have on file:

  • Job descriptions for all positions from management to entry-level
  • Business Internal job postings and external job advertisements
  • Hiring applications
  • Offer letter templates
  • Background check processes that match local and federal law
  • Post-hire paperwork such as tax withholding, W-4s, and other wage deduction forms
  • Internal policies for interviewing and the onboarding process
  • Rejection letter templates
  • New hire employee files
  • Contracts, new hire orientation, and other business training information
  • Pre-employment documents such as the I-9

Affirmative Action Plan

To have HR compliance the EEOC requires that you create a diversity and inclusion plan when onboarding applicants called an Affirmative Action Plan. It's a plan to help include minorities, women, the disabled as well as veterans in the hiring and training in businesses. If your company has 50+ employees and united states government contracts of $50,000 or more your company has to create an affirmative action plan. Some businesses can lose government funding or be able to compete for public contracts if they don’t.

If you need help with that, check out our diversity and inclusion training course. We can help you create an inclusive and diverse workforce as well as prevent any violations or fines.

4 Questions to Answer with the Application Form

Next HR needs to view the job application forms along with the related employee acknowledgment forms and see if they answer these questions:

  1. Are you clearly showing the applicant that you are an equal opportunity business?
  2. Do they certify the accuracy of applicant information?
  3. Do you establish an employment-at-will relationship or not?
  4. Does the company shorten applicable statutory limitation periods? This means shortening the time frame to take legal action, whether it be civil or criminal.

Storing Files and Confidentiality

Review the company’s pre-employment forms to ensure they are completed and in their proper folder. Of course, all these have to be lined up with the local, state, and federal government laws.

Make sure that you are able to prove that the applicant’s criminal history and credit info are confidential. No one can share them and have to be used for application purposes.

Interview Questions

Finally, be ultra-careful about how you phrase interview questions. Make sure they are based solely on whether the applicant is qualified for and able to do the job. Use a behavior assessment tool such as the DiSC program to be on the safe side. As a precaution, it’s always best to be able to show proof of this in your records. Speaking of which let’s go over how you need to audit your record keeping.

Employer Record-Keeping & the Employee Handbook

Make sure that all employees sign their appropriate employment law papers, acknowledgment forms and receive a copy of an up-to-date employee handbook. Additionally, you need to provide proof that employees are classified correctly whether they be exempt or nonexempt employees or independent contractors. All records need to be kept up to date and make sure you are legally allowed to shred a document before you do. If there is illegal activity going on in your company you could get in major trouble for destroying evidence, even if it was accidental or you didn't know about it.

Records to collect and review:

  • Employment agreements
  • Freelancer or sales representative agreements
  • Policies around reviewing personnel files
  • A sample employee file
  • A sample medical file

Best record-keeping techniques for employers:

  • Create a process for confirming whether applicants are legally bound to agreements with previous employers before making an employment offer
  • If freelancers are used, get some legal advice to ensure all workers are properly classified
  • Analyze the job offering letter procedures to make sure they won’t be misunderstood as employment contracts
  • Develop a process for ensuring that the employment agreements are fully executed and enforceable, such as non-solicitations and non-competes.
  • The I 9, W-2s, Fair Credit Reporting Act FCRA forms and employee medical records have to be kept separate from employee personnel files
  • Put emphasis on managers getting training on employee requests to review personnel files

Health Records Confidentiality

Medical information is protected from disclosure except if a signed Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) says otherwise. Before sharing the information with anyone in the business make sure it also follows the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) or you could face a HIPAA violation in the workplace

Check out EasyLlama's HIPAA compliant training course to make sure your company does not violate or break any laws.

Now that you know the proper methods and practices for HR record-keeping let’s move onto aligning company policies with the laws. 

Policies and Procedures

Having the entire business on the same page is required when doing your checklist. All companies need to regularly update their policies according to the always-changing laws.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Laws

When doing your compliance audit checklist make sure to be highly sensitive around anything that could violate Equal Opportunity Commission laws. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title I of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or the Age Discrimination Employment Act. This will prevent the threat of discrimination claims around an employee's perception of inconsistent work policies, unfair performance evaluations, or even disciplinary action processes.

Drug Testing, Accommodation for Disabilities and Harassment Prevention 

Even beyond the employment processes your company needs to be cautious of violating drug testing requirements, such as leaking the results of an employee's drug test. Additionally, you need to provide proof that your company accommodates employees with disabilities, for example, wheelchair access. Also, put emphasis on your bullying and harassment procedures especially if it's sexual. 

Sexual Harassment 

In the era of the #MeToo movement, many states are making it mandatory for every employee to receive proper sexual harassment training, making it one of the most important steps on the checklist for companies. The laws and workplace trends are constantly changing, so it can feel hard to stay on top of everything. Receiving sexual harassment training in New York and California is vital because it is the law. The bottom line is if you need to get your entire workforce trained and certified by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if you want to avoid big compliance fines.

How To Get Your Staff Trained And Compliant

EasyLlama makes meeting both your federal and state regulations easy, by giving you specialized training for your specific state. It also just feels good to know the workforce feels safe and comfortable so they can perform their best.

EasyLlama has interactive quizzes, bite-sized real-world example videos, and training modules based on real-life scenarios. The lessons work on any device with real-time tracking and notifications until each employee completes their training. They also integrate well with the HR tools for many companies.

Once you ensure your whole company is trained to be Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) compliant, then you can begin collecting the rest of your required policy information for your checklist.

Company policy documents to gather:


  • Workplace specifications and compliance posters in common areas
  • Employee handbook and related acknowledgment forms
  • Records of updates made to the employee handbook
  • Sexual harassment or discrimination policies, along with how to file a harassment complaint or investigation procedures. How to do this is covered in depth in our courses.
  • Company policy forms around reasonable accommodation for ADA employees
  • Policy forms on drug screening results
  • Performance evaluation and disciplinary forms


Best techniques on employment policies:


  • Create a procedure for conducting frequent reviews of each job’s description and what their minimum qualifications are
  • Do annual updates to the employee handbook to ensure everyone is aware of equal employment opportunity, proper workplace conduct, pay and leave rules
  • Use the business handbook and employee acknowledgment forms to show at-will employment, shorten statutory limitation periods as well as detail discrimination and harassment reporting processes
  • Create a system for frequent assessing of work rules to ensure all HR policies are being followed
  • Make sure that all business policies are given to all employees and obtain acknowledgment of the form when distributing corrected or changed policies
  • If you don’t have one already create a system for regular employee performance evaluations for a fair work environment
  • Review the company drug testing policies to see if they are in line with federal, state, and local government requirements
  • Have employees fill out acknowledgments of procedures from the personnel handbook and maintain these files in the employee personnel folders
  • Policies for addressing business processes for employment references and who has to provide them
  • Put in place a policy for how employees may use social networking sites and social media
  • Make sure the company follows every Occupational Safety and Health law for your location

We are finished with arguably the most challenging part of the checklist for employers. It’s all downhill from here!

Employee Benefits and Payroll Compliance

Finally, our last step in our human resource compliance checklist is to review the benefits and pay programs. Pay extra special attention to the Equal Pay Act and other discrimination statutes. Also make sure to review your payroll policies for overtime pay, time off requirements, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rights, labor laws, and records of documentation for employee work hours. 

Benefits and payroll documents to collect and review:

  • Information on hours worked by all employees no matter the classification
  • All job descriptions
  • Policies and procedures about classifications of employees
  • Company policy on compensation and overtime pay
  • Policies on leave requests
  • All valid up to date record of leave requests
  • Policies around FMLA leave approval
  • FMLA leave forms on file

Employee benefits best practices:

  • Keep files up to date around hours worked for all employees
  • Make sure employees are paid based on specific qualifications
  • Watch career descriptions for exempt employees and match them with Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements
  • If the company has to do an FMLA figure out if the business has a written policy telling employees of their leave rights and policies for continued HR compliance. Also, make sure it is in line with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.
  • Create guidelines and resources to ensure that leave policy, such as sick leave, vacation leave, personal time off (PTO) and flexible time off are followed correctly
  • Review all mandatory benefits your company offers employees. This includes unemployment benefits, workers' compensation from workplace injuries, and if you have 50+ employees, then a health plan too.
  • Consider adding voluntary benefits to be competitive like dental, vision, life insurance, rehabilitation services, and retirement accounts.

Get the Proper Training Before HR Audits

To avoid fines and penalties it is more important than ever for HR professionals and business owners to make sure they have HR compliance on the job site with all the major anti-discrimination laws.

Sexual harassment laws are one of the fastest-changing employment laws of these times for companies.

If your company is looking for a risk-free easy way to make sure all your employees have compliance with the EEOC for sexual harassment use EasyLlama. As an HR leader or business owner, you are very busy. Whether you have a big or small business EasyLlama automates this step for you, so you can rest easy knowing your compliance is complete