Many times, clients and acquaintances call looking for the "basics" of various materials. Although I’m happy to oblige, some of the "basics" materials are already out there on the Internet. In fact, the government typically has a good summaries of various laws prepared for everyday use. While these documents should not be relied upon entirely, they provide a good foundation for being able to conduct "issue-spotting" — an important trait to have for both attorneys and HR professionals.

Here are four documents or websites that are among the more helpful I’ve seen to understand the basics of various state and federal employment laws.

  • Basic Guide to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) –  The Office of General Counsel for the NLRB has put together a fairly comprehensive 38 page summary of the "basics" of NLRA. What does this mean? Essentially, for the non-lawyers out there, it is a good nuts and bolts document about various U.S. labor laws.  You can download it clicking here, or go to the NLRB website directly. 
  • The Basics of Background Checks – The Federal Trade Commission has put together a short description of what employers should know about the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  The FTC also has a variety of other links about FCRA on a webpage devoted to the act. 
  • The Basics of Whether an Employee is Exempt or Non-Exempt – The Connecticut Department of Labor has a noteworthy worksheet for employers to use to determine whether certain employees should be classified as exempt or non-exempt (in other words, determining the employee’s eligibility for overtime).  The worksheet notes that an employee must satisfy the duties and salary tests and cautions that the form should not be used as a substitute for legal advice, which is sound advice indeed.  The CTDOL website also has a summary of wage and hour laws for employers as well. 
  • The Basics of the State and Federal Family and Medical Leave Act – Employers in Connecticut should be familiar with the fact that state FMLA laws differ in some notable ways from the federal laws. Figuring out which law applies when is a challenging issue.  The Connecticut Department of Labor, however, has put out a comparison of the two laws with answers to some frequently asked questions about it.   For many employers, understanding Connecticut’s rule of providing 16 weeks of leave over a 2 year period and its interaction with the federal rule of 12 weeks in a one year period is crucial to avoiding issues down the road.

 Feel free to comment or add your own favorites on various "basics" documents.