Myriad federal laws apply to employment matters, and sometimes a company needs a legal adviser simply to determine whether it is subject to a particular rule or requirement. Now, the government is offering some assistance in taking this initial step toward compliance. The U.S. Department of Labor has launched a Web site, the FirstStep Employment Law Advisor, to help employers determine which major federal employment laws administered by the DOL apply to them.
To use the service, you answer a series of questions, including the nature of your business, number of employees, whether you employ any disabled or foreign workers, whether you have any union contracts, whether you offer retirement and health plans, whether you have federal contracts, and your location. The information the site generates will depend on which of its three features you have decided to use.
- FirstStep Employment Law Overview Advisor will provide you with a summary of the basic requirements of each law determined to apply to your business, together with related recordkeeping, reporting and notice requirements.
- FirstStep Recordkeeping, Reporting and Notices Advisor will give detailed explanations of these requirements for each applicable law.
- FirstStep Poster Advisor will provide links to legally required posters for the workplace, together with information on the laws establishing these poster requirements.
If applicable, the information provided will include links to published or online compliance assistance materials (such as guides and fact sheets), model notices required for employees (such as under COBRA), and forms for required filings (such as Form 5500). Contact information for departments within the DOL and other federal and state agencies are also provided.
If an employer already knows what federal employment laws apply, the service can be used to access basic compliance information on recordkeeping, reporting, and poster requirements.
As noted above, this service covers major federal employment laws administered by the DOL. It does not cover all laws administered by the DOL, nor does it cover federal laws administered by other agencies, or state or local laws (but links are provided to some of these outside sources). Though the site focuses only on the major DOL-administered federal laws, it can be a good “first step” to legal compliance with federal employment laws.
Access FirstStep at http://www.dol.gov/elaws/FirstStep/. The service is free.