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Department of Labor Compliance Assistance for Small Business

Small-business owners must follow the same labor laws as larger companies, without the benefit of human resources departments to help understand all the rules. Because there are so many rules and small businesses, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and other agencies have stepped in.

FindLaw's Employment Law Resources page contains more help on legal compliance with labor laws.

Department of Labor Small Business Assistance

The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) enforces federal labor laws and regulations. Not every federal law applies to every business. The size of your company determines which laws apply. Other factors include whether you have pension or retirement plans, federal contracts, and your annual revenue.

Pay and Benefits

The DOL provides resources on federal laws affecting employee benefits and pay, as follows:

The DOL also offers the FirstStep Employment Law Advisor to help small businesses determine which laws and rules they should follow. This app uses a series of yes-and-no questions that narrow down the HR policies that affect your company.

Safety, Insurance, and Discrimination

Many offices work under the DOL. They provide compliance assistance with health and safety regulations.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) assists with workplace safety. OSHA has recordkeeping and reporting requirements like those required by workers' compensation. OSHA safety posters are available for free or download at their website.

The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs administers workers' compensation benefits to federal workers. It also helps those receiving specialized benefits, such as black lung recipients. Small businesses can review updated COVID-19 guidance at their site.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has sections on complying with state and federal laws, tax filing, and reporting rules.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces employment laws and anti-discrimination policies. The EEOC has a small business assistance site for companies without a human resource management team.

The EEOC oversees complaints about violations of federal laws, including:


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a page to assist small businesses with quarterly and annual filing. If your company uses independent contractors, you should check their rules to determine if a worker is a contractor or an employee. The IRS has strict rules about misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor for income tax purposes.

Other Resources

Everyone has said, "I wish there were one place I could go and get all the answers!" The DOL's ELAWS site is as close to that place as small-business owners can get. The DOL's Office of Compliance Assistance New and Small Business site answers nearly every HR compliance issue. The pages have links to more information about federal and state laws.

The DOL's site has links to lists of frequently asked questions that business owners and HR professionals ask. This page is helpful as a quick reference for answering questions that arise.

The DOL has placed all its major laws and rules in one convenient place for quick review. The Summary of Major Laws page briefly describes and links to the complete regulations.

State labor laws can be much different than federal laws. Businesses should check with their state office to ensure they are in compliance with state regulations about hours, minimum wages, and overtime pay.

Get Legal Advice

Navigating the maze of federal and state laws can be a full-time job. Contact a business law attorney for legal assistance if your business does not have HR services.

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