Keeping Up with Laws and Regulations Is Crucial

HR professionals must continuously educate themselves on changing legislation

By Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP

October 10, 2019

HR professionals know how daunting it can be to navigate the dynamics of federal, state and local laws and regulations. What’s the best way to understand so many significant changes at all levels of government? How will these changes impact our organizations? Where do we start?

Through continuous education, we can become legislative subject matter experts and compliance leaders. By setting goals and committing to a disciplined approach to educating ourselves, then utilizing a variety of SHRM competencies to do so, HR professionals can stay on top of evolving laws and regulations that affect the workplace.

Start with a sound technical understanding of legislation from municipal to global levels (as applicable) to effectively communicate with your organization on legal and compliance expectations. Here are ways to learn about and keep up with changing legislation: 

  • Attend webinars, conferences and local chapter events. These activities can be gold mines for HR professionals. Many government entities offer free webinars to educate employers on legislative changes. Attorneys frequently offer free webinars on legislative topics and send out weekly updates. Local SHRM affiliates and chapters are likely to provide legal updates at their meetings. Local, state and national SHRM conferences usually include sessions about changes to laws and regulations. The SHRM competencies of Leadership & Navigation, Critical Evaluation and HR Expertise all play a role.
  • Research, research, research. Get high-level overviews of laws and regulations from SHRM online resources (federal and state and local), government websites and legal blogs. Better yet, read the actual legislation. Legislative language may take time to fully understand, but if you’re unclear on meanings, look for appropriate reference materials or ask an attorney for help. Establish a process for doing research that is effective for your organization and for you as a certified HR professional, by applying the competencies of Business Acumen and Consultation.
  • Read, write and give presentations. Work to become a subject matter expert in the laws and regulations that affect your organization. Do the research into such legislation, then regularly write memos to inform and update your organizational leadership and managers and supervisors. (The more time you spend writing about laws and regulations, the better you’ll get—practice makes improved!) Summarize the information, communicate the impacts of the changes, and present the material at high-level meetings or training sessions. HR professionals who become experts on legislation can make tremendous impacts on their organizations.