BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Tips to Stay Compliant with U.S. Labor Laws

By  //  June 21, 2018

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

adverse legal actions can be tough for any company

Do you have more than 50 employees working for you? Did you know you’re required to grant your workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year? This forms part of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Fines.  This is what you’ll receive as a penalty when you’ve violated labor laws and that’s if you’re lucky! There are worse consequences and adverse legal actions can be tough for any company. Do you want to run that risk?

Business owners often receive phone calls from the department of labor informing them about a complaint against them. If you’ve ever received a call like this you’d know how terrifying it can be.

Of course, you don’t intend to attract this attention. Labour laws are usually not violated on purpose. It mostly happens because there are so many laws that owners can’t always keep up with the do’s & don’ts. This can especially be difficult if you run more than one business.

So are you sure you’re following the correct procedures at work? Here are a few tips on preventing any future labor law problems in your company.

Employee Leave

Do you have more than 50 employees working for you? Did you know you’re required to grant your workers 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year? This forms part of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Of course, there are ways employees can abuse these laws. But in return there are a few guidelines you can follow to protect your business against untruthful employees:

  • All your employees should fill in an employee request form before you approve leave days.
  • Always request a medical certificate if an employee took sick days off. You should also have proof of a medical certificate when an employee requests sick leave due to a child or family member being sick.
  • Never deny an employee the right of unpaid family leave if it complies with the US labor law.
  • It’s always advisable to have HR personnel that can handle the leave of your workers even if you run a small business. This limits your conflict with your subordinates and this department can ensure you stay in line with regulations.


Time off & over time can be tricky to manage & control. There are many rules regarding:

  • Time your employees worked
  • What they must be paid
  • How they can get paid

The laws differ for each employee contract. Here’s an example: Employees that are paid every second week & employees that are paid monthly will be paid differently for overtime worked.

To avoid false accusations against you regarding overtime & leave you should have a proper attendance system in place. A manual clock in systems can get lost or the documents can be forged.

The best way to ensure you’re managing an effective fault free attendance record is to invest in a biometric clock in system such as the ones available on

A biometric clock in system will allow you to have accurate information about each employee’s hours worked, lunch breaks, leave days and tea breaks. You can also monitor working hours daily, weekly or monthly to make sure you’re still on track and in line with labor laws.


Contractual liability can easily happen when you don’t have the correct systems in place. When you’re using an employee handbook you should be very cautious of the wording.

Here are a few tips you can follow to make sure you don’t end up in a sticky situation due to improper wording:

  • Avoid using statements that include the word ‘guaranteed’.
  • Avoid making any promises; exclude this word out of the handbook.
  • Don’t state that the company “will take” actions against the employee in a certain situation. The words “will take” can be seen as making a promise.
  • Always state that the procedures & information in the handbook can change at any given time without prior notice.


Do you have foreign employees working for your company? Yes? Then you should know exactly what visas they require. Here’s a list of few different working visa categories:

  • Canadian or Mexican citizens will be needing a TN visa.
  • Foreigners with athletic, educational or science abilities will be in need of an O categorized working visa.
  • A code B1 visa is for foreigners that are in the US for business purposes & for the benefit of their foreign employers.
  • A foreign professional will be applying for an H-1B category visa.
  • Foreign skilled or unskilled workers will need H-2B code visas.


If you’re experiencing strikes in your workplace you should be very careful not to replace economic strikers with foreign workers. The reason for this is when you apply for the Foreign Professional H-1B Visa you must agree there are no strikes in progress.

A Note on Foreign Employees

Don’t let it get too complicated. If you’re 100% certain about what your foreign employees are allowed to do within the workplace, seek professional advice so you don’t accidentally break a regulation.

Stay Up to Date

With labor laws forever changing you need to make sure you’re aware of any changes made to any laws. Hiring an HR team can help you keep updated with the newest laws or changes in existing laws.

Here are more ways you can always be on top of your game:

  • Join a website that’ll send you newsletters & information on the US labor laws.
  • Invest in an employment law attorney if possible. The attorney will send you the newest documentation & changes so you’ll know everything there’s to know about the US labor laws. The money you spend on the lawyer you’ll save from not paying fines anymore.

It’s a lot to remember but it’s worth putting in the effort. Give yourself some peace of mind.

This can happen to you on any given day: Your phone is ringing. What would your reaction be if you knew it was the labor department on the other end of the line? Do you feel comfortable answering?