Guide to HR Compliance

A guide to compliance and how to address the ever-changing requirements with a benefits software.

Company compliance is no easy task. Good HR professionals must stay on top of labor laws and regulations, as well as other considerations found in internal employee handbooks. Below, we’ll define compliance and look at the benefits of using a software to handle your employee notices.

Company Compliance 101

Laws surrounding employee notices have specific and detailed requirements, making them extremely confusing. As a result, administrators spend a significant amount of time managing, distributing and documenting these notices in order to remain compliant with state and federal laws.

Like many labor laws, notices can be tricky and often elicit questions. Which notices need to be distributed? When do they need to be distributed? And to whom should they be distributed to? For many administrators and HR professionals, the answer is, “I think I know.” With company compliance at stake, this uncertainty can be extremely stressful.

2020 HR Calendar

Compliance Challenges

From our 2019 HR Today and Tomorrow Survey Report, company compliance pressure was the most cited challenge for HR leaders at small and mid-sized businesses. HR leaders struggle to stay current with changing regulations, and organizations operating in multiple states face particular complexity.

The biggest challenge is making sure we are compliant with all the required regulations. I am the only HR person in our organization, and it is not my main responsibility. I worry I will miss something!

Did You Know?

Compliance isn’t optional:

Above all else, notices are tricky because they are strictly regulated and demand full compliance in order to avoid penalties. Authorities such as the Department of Labor (DOL) require employers to distribute specific notices throughout the duration of the employee’s employment and to document employee acknowledgment of each required notice.

Compliance regulations change:

As employment laws ebb and flow with the needs of the workforce, human resources officers must stay up to date on the latest legal changes and requirements in order to keep their organization fully compliant. Administrators must stay on top of which notices are required by law and adhere to the nuances that are specific to each notice.

Employee participation is unpredictable:

Unfortunately, staying notice-compliant isn’t always a predictable process because it depends on one key variable: employee participation. Since each of your employees has their own set of responsibilities, sometimes your priorities aren’t their priorities. As a result, administrators constantly find themselves expending significant effort to collect signatures from employees and to track employee participation in notices.


You’ve tracked down every employee and collected the signatures you need, but you’re not quite done. Now you need to document each employee’s acknowledgment of all received notices. If you’ve got more than a handful of employees, maintaining all of these records can be a huge administrative burden.

Legal Requirements

Notice upon hire:

1. Marketplace Exchange Notice: Each new employee must receive this notice no later than 14 days after the hire date.

Notice when enrollment is offered:

1. Summary of Benefits & Coverage (SBC): Any individual eligible for employee benefits must receive this notice with the initial enrollment and open enrollment periods.

2. Notice of Special Enrollment Rights: Every individual eligible to enroll must receive this notice at or before each enrollment period.

3. Women’s Health & Cancer Rights Act: Every individual eligible to enroll must receive this notice at enrollment annually.

4. Employer CHIP Notice: All employees must receive this notice at enrollment annually.

5. Newborns’ Act Notice: All employees must receive this notice at enrollment annually.

Notice due when enrollment is completed:

1. HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices for Protected Health Information: Plan participants and beneficiaries must receive this notice upon plan enrollment. You must also provide the same notice or a reminder of this notice at least every three years.

2. COBRA General Rights Notice: Plan participants and beneficiaries must receive this notice within 90 days after health coverage begins.

3. Plan Document: Plan participants or beneficiaries making the request should receive this notice within 30 days of the participant’s written request (ERISA plans only).

4. Summary Plan Description (SPD): Plan participants and beneficiaries should receive this notice within 90 days of being covered (ERISA plans only).

5. Notice of Patient Protections (may be included in SPD): Plan participants and beneficiaries should receive this notice at the same point they receive SPD or other benefit summaries.

Notices upon certain events:

1. Medical Child Support Order Notice (MCSO): Participants, any child named in the order and the child’s representative should receive this notice promptly upon receipt of the medical child support order.

Notice by a certain date:

1. Medicare Part D – Creditable (or Non-Creditable) Coverage Disclosure Notice: Medicare-eligible plan participants (employees, dependents, COBRA enrollees, and retirees participating in employer’s group plan) must be provided prior to October 15th each year. Prior to the individual’s enrollment period for Part D and prior to the date of enrolling in the employer’s plan.

2. Summary Annual Report (SAR): ERISA plan participants and beneficiaries should receive this notice within 9 months after the end of each plan year.

3. Notice of Qualifying Event: the plan administrator must receive notice of qualifying event within 30 days of a covered dependent losing coverage (e.g. in the case of divorce, child attaining limited age).

4. COBRA Election Notice: Qualified beneficiaries must receive this notice within 14 days after receiving notice of a COBRA qualifying event.

20 Compliance Questions HR Should Ask

HR Notices

Federal Posting Requirements

According to federal compliance regulations, employers must post specific posters in high-traffic locations that are clearly visible to employees and prospective employees. Companies staffed by a large remote workforce should also make these posters digitally available on the organization’s intranet in addition to the workspace posting. At a minimum, these postings should include:

Reporting & Distribution

Federal and state labor laws also require specific HR notices to be reported to the proper governing agency and distributed to employees. Please note that these notices do not account for specific industry and state variations.

Federal Reporting & Distribution Timeline

Federal and state labor laws also require specific HR notices to be reported to the proper governing agency and distributed to employees.

What to Include in Your Employee Handbook

An employee handbook is crucial to HR compliance. This document should be distributed to employees upon hire and should require each employee to sign in acknowledgment of the content. Here’s what you should include in your employee handbook:

HR Compliance Best Practices

Designate an Individual to Manage Notices

One of the best ways to keep your employee notices regimen compliant is to designate an official “notices handler” to be responsible for all things related to employee notices. By choosing a single staff member to manage company notices, you gain administrative consistency, specialized expertise and reduce the likelihood of error due to miscommunication.

Document Your Procedure

Administrators should document the procedure that is taken to manage employee notices. By putting a procedure in writing, the administrator can establish an expected course of action that increases consistency within notices management. This consistency is especially valuable with regards to the high turnover rate in the United States workforce. The clear and detailed documentation of internal procedures allows you to maintain your notice administration standard even as different people move in and out of the position.

Monitor Legal Changes

A constant battle for administrators is staying up-to-date on state and federal workforce regulations. Labor laws often evolve in response to changes in the workforce, which means that administrators must find a way to monitor these changes in order to stay compliant. So what’s the best way to keep up with the latest labor laws? We suggest subscribing to the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) for legislative updates. These subscriptions will alert you to changes in both local and federal laws that might impact your business.

Keep Notices Accessible to Employees

Transparency is key when it comes to compliance. Your employees should be able to review notices from an easily accessed location. By maintaining this level of transparency, you allow others to hold you accountable, which means less risk of error and noncompliance penalties.

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How BerniePortal Helps

Have you been looking for an easier way to keep employees updated with important changes within the company? Maybe a system that allows you to do this with ease? Well, look no further, BerniePortal has got you covered! Our compliance feature allows employers to keep employees updated and compliant with the ease and simplicity that you’ve been searching for.

What Does BerniePortal Compliance Do?

Distribute notices:

Organizations by nature are unique, so naturally, not everyone can be placed into the same category. That’s why BerniePortal Compliance allows you to distribute notices to specific groups of employees. Customize these notices to the specific needs of your organization while staying compliant with workforce regulations.

Collect signatures:

What good is an agreement if there is no acknowledgment? Using BerniePortal Compliance, administrators can collect employee signatures for each required notice. BerniePortal takes these signatures and documents them for future reference. Employees simply need to log into their portal to review and sign documents.

Consolidate data:

You have a handful of signed notices for each of your employees and now you have to store them. You could take the traditional route and put them away in the filing cabinet or you could let BerniePortal organize them for you. BerniePortal’s intuitive structure makes all notices easy to find and hard to lose—helping you maintain consistent and traceable records of all employee notices year-round.

Document compliance:

Compliance can be a major stressor for employers and HR professionals alike. You’ve made the effort and checked all the boxes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the proper proof of compliance. Without proof of compliance, your company may be subject to some hefty fines and penalties. BerniePortal Compliance documents all notices, acknowledgments and downloadable PDF versions of each signed notice in order to help you prove your compliance.

Monitor participation:

Tired of spreadsheets? Our notices solution allows administrators to track the number of views and signatures collected for each distributed notice without any extra effort. Keep track of overall and individual participation with documentation of each employee agreement without leaving your computer.

Send reminders:

Your employees have a lot on their plates, so you may need to send a reminder or two. Not only does BerniePortal track the employees who have not completed their notices, but it also allows you to send reminders to those who have not completed their notices. This functionality saves time because it allows employers to send reminders in bulk directly from their BerniePortal dashboard page.

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Ready to Go Online With BerniePortal?

Simplify notice administration and compliance by adding BerniePortal Compliance to your toolbox.