Building your HR Compliance Checklist

  • 17th, July 2018
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Off late, the word ‘Compliance’ is gaining popularity as a news headline, but mostly for the wrong reasons. Most news items point in two directions – either the case of a breach of compliance or how the organization did not have a proper compliance system. And then, most of us keep wondering why any of the above should have happened in the first place.

Isn’t it mandatory for all organizations to follow compliance guidelines?  More importantly, isn’t it common sense that a compliance process provides the necessary checks and balances to ensure the smooth functioning of every organization? And if both are being followed, then why the slip between the cup and the lip?

Close investigation reveals one common factor – lack of a compliance checklist

Compliance Checklist – Why you need one

It is just not enough to have the intent to be compliant. Organizations need to develop and implement the right processes to make compliance a part of the system – one that fits seamlessly into the system without taking too much of the employees’ time. Checklists help in making this process easy.

A compliance checklist is just that – a list of all items put together in the sequence that they need to be followed or completed to address a particular compliance project. Now, checklists may vary depending on the project and the organization but the purpose is to bring in uniformity in documenting the sequence of activities and making sure all required tasks have been covered to the required levels. Checklists are designed to serve different levels within the organization meaning they may vary for staff, managers and senior management depending on the levels of responsibilities. Another benefit of checklists is that they help in documenting the efforts at all levels in the organization to stay compliant. Misses and complacency can be spotted during audits using the checklists as a starting point.

Compliance checklist areas – Finance, recruitment, HR, Risk, Security

Compliance is an organization-wide requirement. All departments have their own compliance requirement be it Finance, HR, Risk or Security. And it is a good practice to have detailed compliance checklists – documenting tasks and making it a mechanical process helps in making compliance a habit. Of course, senior management needs to take steps to enforce a culture of compliance across the organization. They need to lead by example, recognize and reward good compliance behaviour and be the catalysts of change.

Human Resources compliance checklist – how does it help?

Human Resources are the heart of any organization. Sounds clichéd but there it is: the most important asset of an organization is its people.

Needless to say, HR departments have a big task on hand to make sure

  1. They recruit the right people
  2. They retain the right people
  3. Ensure people follow rules (compliance and others) and
  4. Build a culture that makes the organization a great place to work so that more people are interested in working with them

Four easy steps to list but takes years of dedicated efforts to make this happen!

What should your HR compliance checklist cover?

Organizations that have mastered this art have two things in common – clearly documented processes and detailed HR compliance check lists.

Their HR compliance process has checklists to cover the following:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Interviewing process
  3. Hiring procedures
  4. Employment benefits
  5. Health and medical benefits
  6. Safety
  7. Sexual Harassment policy
  8. Training

Checklists cover detailed list of items/requirements to be followed to make that process complete. For example, the recruitment compliance checklist provides the logical steps for the recruitment process starting with screening candidates internally first and then looking outside the organization. It also includes the process for advertising positions, screening applications and the basic norms to be followed for each type/level of position to be recruited.

Can you find the best candidates using the checklist? Well, there will always be exceptions, but the good thing about having and following a HR compliance checklist is that exceptions too have to be documented. This helps in avoiding unreasonable exceptions and maintaining a clear audit trail, rather than having to probe the reason at a later stage when such anomalies are noticed and flagged.

Manual vs Automation

This is a big question doing the rounds recently with compliance getting ‘the big brother is watching you’ tag. Large organizations find it cumbersome to manually file records of all employees. Manual also means there could be errors of omission and commission. In such cases it is best to use automation tools. The biggest benefit is that the system can flag problems immediately and lock down the process until approved by a senior designated authority. In the long term, automation tools work out to be faster, better and accurate than manual processes. Moreover, the multitude of cloud based HR solutions available today makes it a cost effective solution that helps in reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) for organizations.

The big case for Compliance checklist?

It’s a no brainer. You don’t need to justify the need for a HR compliance checklist or for that matter an independent checklist for all your compliance areas. It makes life easy, like driving a car – once you learn how to drive, you don’t have to look at the clutch, accelerator or the brakes. It becomes an automatic process in your brain and happens naturally. This is true for compliance checklists as well.


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