Federal employment laws to follow for your company size

Written by: Gabrielle Smith
Published on December 1, 2021.

As a small or medium size business owner, it’s an exciting and rewarding experience to see your company grow and prosper, especially as you start hiring more employees to meet the increased demand.

However, as your company grows, so too does your list of federal employment laws that you’ll need to follow to keep your company compliant. That’s because the laws that apply to you depend on your employer size, or the number of employees you have hired. Generally speaking, the more employees you have, the more rules and regulations you’ll need to be aware of to stay compliant.

While keeping track of all the regulations that apply to your organization may seem daunting at first, we’re here to help keep things straight. In this article, we’ll go over the federal employment laws in place as you reach each company size.

Skip to your company size to see the regulations that apply to you.

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1-14 employee company

  • Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA)
      • Protects employees from discharge by their employer due to their wages being garnished for any one debt. The CCPA also limits the amount of an employee's earnings that may be garnished in any one week.
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
      • Prevents employers from using lie detector tests in the employee interview process or during employment.
  • Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
      • Sets minimum standards for employee benefit plans, including retirement plans and welfare benefit plans (i.e. 401(k) plans, group health insurance plans, etc.). It also outlines that employers must give plan participants information around the plan features, funding, and responsibilities.
  • Equal Pay Act (EPA)
      • Requires that employers provide equal compensation for both men and women who perform equal work in the same workplace.
  • Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT)
      • Protects employees against identity theft.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
      • Establishes minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping, and child labor standards for employers.
  • Federal Income Tax Withholding
      • Requires employers to withhold a set percentage of employee wages for the federal government.
  • Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA)
      • Requires that employers withhold a set percentage of employee wages for Social Security and Medicare.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
      • Ensures that employees’ protected health information is kept private and that employers can’t receive healthcare information about employees from healthcare providers.
  • Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA)
      • Mandates that only those who can legally work in the United States can be hired and employers maintain up-to-date I-9 forms for all employees.
  • National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
      • Protects employees from being disciplined by their employer for forming or joining a union, or taking collective action, such as strikes.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
      • Requires employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees by following federally-set standards for safe employment conditions, hazard communication, and personal protective equipment. Employers with at least 11 employees must maintain records in compliance with OSHA.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
      • Requires public companies to follow set mandates in financial recordkeeping to combat fraud and improve financial disclosures.
  • Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
      • Protects employees from discrimination on the basis of membership in the uniformed services with regard to any aspect of employment.
  • Uniform Guidelines for Employment Selection Procedures
    • Requires employers to make equitable employment decisions in accordance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Hiring your first employee? Read out article for step-by-step help

15+ employee company

  • American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
      • Protects employees and applicants with disabilities from discrimination in all employment practices, including recruitment, compensation, hiring and firing, job assignments, training, leave, and benefits.
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
      • Protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on their genetic information.
  • Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964
    • Protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

20+ employee company

  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)
      • Protects employees and applicants who are 40+ years old from discrimination based on their age.
  • Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
    • Provides certain employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses, and dependent children the right to temporarily continue their employer-sponsored health benefits when coverage would otherwise be lost due to certain events (i.e. termination of employment).

See how COBRA laws apply to HRAs

50+ employee company: Applicable large employers (ALEs)

  • Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s Employer Shared Responsibility Rules
  • Affirmative Action Program (AAP)
      • Requires employers to create programs to ensure the right of all persons to advance within the organization on the basis of merit and ability without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran’s status, or other factors.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
    • Requires employers to provide eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, including having a baby, adopting a child, or serious family illness.

Get the “Do I have to offer health insurance?” guide for more on ALE regulations

100+ employee company

  • EEO-1 Survey Filing (Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964)
      • Requires employers to submit employment data categorized by race/ethnicity, gender, job category, and wages and hours to the EEOC. If the organization is a federal contractor, this requirement is in force at 50+ employees.
  • Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act (WARN)
    • Requires employers to give employees at least a 60-day notice of workplace closings and mass layoffs.

Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Opportunity Commission, U.S. General Services Administration, and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission


While this checklist is an excellent start, keep in mind there may be other state- and industry-specific laws that also apply to your organization in addition to the federal laws listed here. This is a general guide for information, and other laws may also apply, such as if you have a federal contract, regardless of how many employees you have. For this reason, we recommend consulting with a legal expert in your area that’s familiar with your industry for an exhaustive list of employment laws for your organization.

If you have questions about offering compliant health benefits, let our personalized benefits advisors fill you in on how PeopleKeep can keep track of important health insurance regulations so you don’t have to!

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Originally published on December 1, 2021. Last updated December 1, 2021.


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