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Federal Guides and Resources

Federal Employment Laws

Federal Employment Tax Laws


State Guides and Resources

State Employment Laws

State Employment Tax Laws







Federal Guides and Resources

A comprehensive compliance website at the United States Department of Labor, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Policy, website provides information and links to federal employment laws.  On the left side of the page you will see links “By Topic,” "By Audience” and “By Major Law.”  To access all of the laws click on the last link “more.” 


The Department of Labor website also offers a complete Employment Law Guide online that can be accessed by individual chapter from a Table of Contents. 



Federal Employment Laws

Below is an alphabetical list of federal employment laws that have broad application and are most likely to apply to charities that have employees.  There is a brief description of each law and direct links to helpful information about applicability and compliance.



Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

These issues often arise when constructing or remodeling office space, but many of the issues are relevant every day of the year.  Here is a link to the United Department of Justice ADA website that provides information you will need. You will also find the “ADA Guide for Small Businesses”


Drug-Free Workplace

While many nonprofits are not required to establish “drug-free workplace” policies, others are covered by such requirements under specific laws, professional standards, or self-imposed rules.  Go to the United States Department of Labor, Drug-Free Workplace Advisor website to find out how to establish and implement drug-free workplace policies and practices.


Employee Polygraph Protection Act

This law provides employees and applicants for employment from being subjected to polygraph tests or being discriminated against on the basis of polygraph test results. The Department of Labor offiers a Compliance Guide on their website. 


Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)

This act sets required standards for any business that establishes a retirement plan for its employees.  It also provides for payment of certain benefits through the federal Pension Guaranty Corporation if a plan cannot be continued.  Information can be found in a ERISA Compliance Guide on the Department of Labor website.



Equal Employment Opportunity Laws

There are a number of federal laws requiring equal employment opportunities. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is charged with enforcement of these laws. The EEOC provides a website page for employers that gives more detailed information about the laws and what is required of employers to comply with those laws. Here is a list of the bases for discrimination that are regulated by the EEOC, with links to information on laws and compliance.


Every employer covered by the non-discrimination and EEO laws is required to post on its premises the poster, "Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law."  The poster in English, Arabic, Chinese or Spanish may be obtained by submitting the EEOC Poster Request Form.


Fair Labor Standards Act & Minimum Wage
Every employer must comply with fair labor standards and minimum wage requirements.  Information concerning this important act, as well as access to posters in English, Spanish and Chinese is found on the Department of Labor website.


Also helpful is a "Handy Reference Guide" to the Fair Labor Standards Act

Family & Medical Leave Act

This law covers rights to job-protected leaves for the purpose of birth and care of a child, care of an adopted or foster child, care of an immediate family member or care or treatment for the employee in the event of a serious medical condition.  Information and posters for placement at the workplace are available from the Department of Labor website.



Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

Every employer is responsible for verifying the citizenship or alien status of each employee they hire.  Each employee hired after November 6, 1986, must complete Section 1 of the I-9 Form.  The employer must examine documents verifying the employee’s status and complete other sections of the form, as described in the instructions  The United States Citizen and Immigration Services provides information on its website.



Employment of Aliens

 The Immigration and Nationality Act provides for the temporary or permanent employment of aliens.  Any organization that may hire immigrants should visit the following website should learn about the requirements on the Department of Labor website.



Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970

 This law provides employees with certain rights and imposes obligations on employers that are designed to ensure the safe and healthy workplaces.  The law may impose a number of obligations on employees, including record keeping and reporting requirements and notice requirements.  Organizations that deal with certain hazardous conditions, for example, medical facilities or homebuilding organizations, may be subject to specific requirements under this law.  To learn your obligations go to the Occupational Safety and Health website.


The main website for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration also provides links publications, workplace posters, fact sheets, and compliance guides on numerous issues related to health and safety at the workplace. The website also offers "Q's and A's" for Small Business Employers.



Federal Employment Tax Laws

To locate federal laws go to the IRS webpage Employment Taxes for Exempt Organizations, or go to the Life Cycle of an Exempt Organization on the IRS website where you can link to various helpful sites.  You will find information concerning

  • federal income tax withholding
  • Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA)
    (Some exemptions do apply to churches and church-controlled organizations)

NOTE: Charitable 501(c)(3) organizations are exempt from paying Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA).


The following is a list of direct links to publications and forms if you have already visited the link above and want to go directly to specific information.



Because employment laws and tax laws are extremely complicated, many organizations find it both convenient and cost-effective to hire an independent company to handle payroll and tax issues. For a great deal more on these compliance issues, refer to the Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual, 5th Edition, which can be purchased on the MNA website. Section 3, Financial Management and Section 6, Human Resources of the Manual have more specific information on the laws and how to hire outside assistance.


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State Guides & Resources

Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

MEDC, on their website, offers a “Starting a Business in Michigan” guide with relevant and timely information concerning the obligations of employers.  Even though much of the information is designed to assist for profit businesses, the information on employee issues is, in general, the same for nonprofit organizations. Appendix C of the “Starting a Business in Michigan” guide will provide information on all posters that must be posted at the workplace and sources for obtaining them.


State Employment Laws

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs administers Michigan employment laws. For information on these laws, and links to specific laws concerning wages and hours, go to the Wage and Hour Division website. Here are direct links to information about the laws the Wage and Hour Division administers:

Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MIOSHA)

 Because much of the information at the MIOSHA website is very specific, it is recommended that any organization hiring employees visit the website to peruse the laws, rules, forms, procedures and checklists that are available.  Perusal of the lists of publications and posters will provide notice of the various laws this agency administers.




Important things to remember for charities with employees include:

  • Employers must have each new employee complete the MI-W4 for tax withholding for all employees.
    The Michigan Department of Treasury provides information on their website for employers, including the 2011 Income Tax Withholding Guide.
  • Employers must register online all newly hired or rehired employees with the Michigan New Hires Operations Center or file Form 3281
  • Employers are responsible for paying Unemployment Insurance to the Unemployment Insurance Agency.
    The law does permit 3rd party payments. Nonprofit organizations can often pay lower rates through an alliance of nonprofits who have lower unemployment risks. The 501 Alliance is a Michigan nonprofit that qualifies charities for lower rates. Check the Nonprofit Consultant & Resource Directory on the MNA website for other options.
  • Employers are required to cover workers with workers' compensation insurance if they regularly employ three or more workers at one time; or during the preceding 52 weeks, they have regularly employed at least one worker for 35 hours or more per week for 13 weeks or longer. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has an online Workers' Compensation Guide.


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Definitions of these terms and distinctions between independent contractors and employees can be found on the IRS website. Another helpful source of information is the website offered by the IRS at Online Training Topic #3 deals with employment issues, including how to classify employees for tax purposes.


Also, the state of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency also has helpful information to determine if a person is an independent contractor or an employee that requires unemployment insurance coverage.


Federal Laws

The American Competitiveness and Corporate Accountability Act (Sarbanes-Oxley Act) that was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2002 makes it a federal crime to retaliate against employees who report suspected fraudulent activities with in the organization. An article done by Independent Sector and Boardsource, The Sarbanes-Oxley act and Implications for Nonprofit Organizations provides a more complete discussion of the Act.

The National Council of Nonprofits (NCN) also offers discussions of the implications Sarbanes-Oxley has for nonprofit organizations.

The U. S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Safety and Health Administration website offers information on other laws that protect workers who report violations of law.

State Laws

Whistleblower Protection Act prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who reports, or intends to report, a violation of state law by the employer. Section 2 of the Act (Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) 15.362; Public Act 469 of 1980) states as follows:

"An employer shall not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate against an employee regarding the employee's compensation, terms, conditions, location, or privileges of employment because the employee, or a person acting on behalf of the employee, reports or is about to report, verbally or in writing, a violation or a suspected violation of a law or regulation or rule promulgated pursuant to law of this state, a political subdivision of this state, or the United States to a public body, unless the employee knows that the report is false, or because an employee is requested by a public body to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry held by that public body, or a court action."

The law also requires employers to post notices to inform employees of their rights under the law. You may print a poster on the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health (MIOSHA) portion of the Michigan website or you may order posters by email.


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Both state and federal employment laws require employers to display posters to inform employees of their rights and obligations, from occupational health and safety issues to minimum wage requirements.  All of the required posters are available free of charge from government agencies.  Here are websites where you can locate information about what posters are required and find out how to obtain free posters.


The Department of Labor (DOL) has a Poster Page on their website that provides detailed information about posters and the laws that require posting.


The Poster Advisor on the DOL website provides a series of questions to help you determine what posters are required and provides a method for either printing or ordering those that are required.


These websites also provide links to state posting requirements.



State Posters

A list of required state and federal posters and links to obtain them is found on the website that is sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.