Common HR Terms From A to Z

Payroll and Tax Terms:


Accruals: Accrual is a shorthand term for the accumulated compensation due to employees. Accruals can happen in a few different ways. Payroll accruals are funds owed to workers for hours they previously worked but haven’t yet been compensated for. Accruals can also happen as part of an employee benefits package. For example, many employers offer paid vacation, sick, and personal time which are sometimes accumulated (accrued) by the employee each pay period.  

Automated Clearing House (ACH): ACH is an electronic network that manages electronic banking transactions. Any entity can use the ACH network to send or receive funds. Employers typically use ACH to pay their employees through direct deposits.  


Base Pay: Base pay is the initial salary paid to an employee, not including any benefits, bonuses, or raises. It is the rate of compensation an employee receives in exchange for services. 


Davis Bacon Act: During the Great Depression, Congress passed the Davis-Bacon Act to ensure workers on public works projects were paid fairly. Today, if your business works on a federal contract over $2,000, the Davis-Bacon Act says you need to comply with certified payroll requirements that address a worker’s specific rate of pay and fringe benefits, including submitting a weekly WH-347 certified payroll report.  

Deductions: Deductions refer to the types of payments taken out of an employee’s paycheck to cover things like insurance premiums, retirement plan contributions, etc. Most deductions don’t affect the amount of an employee’s taxable income, but some are considered pre-tax. 

Direct Deposit: Direct deposit is a payment option where funds are electronically transferred from an employer’s bank account to the employee’s bank account. Using direct deposit is a smooth, secure, and convenient process for everyone. Employers don’t have to worry about check fraud or lost/stolen “live checks” and employees can access their funds quicker.  


Employer Identification Number (EIN): EIN is a unique 9-digit number that is assigned to a business by the IRS. It is somewhat like the SSN given to individuals. A business’s EIN is permanent. It never expires or gets recycled for another business. EINs may also be referred to as a Federal Employer Identification Number, or FEIN.  

 Employer Taxes: Employers are responsible for deducting the correct amount of taxes from their employees’ wages, calculating their own share of taxes, depositing the payments, and filing returns with government agencies on time. The taxes that generally must be paid every pay period include 1) Social Security and Medicare taxes (aka FICA tax), 2) Federal/State unemployment tax (aka FUTA tax), and 3) Federal/State income tax.  

Exempt Employees: Exempt employees are exempt from receiving overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Most exempt employees (but not all) work in professional, managerial, and executive positions sometimes called a “white-collar exemption.” Whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt depends on how much they are paid, how they are paid, and what kind of work they do. 


FICA Tax: FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) taxes fund federal Social Security and Medicare programs. The total due every pay period is 15.3% of an individual’s wages – half of which is paid by the employee and the other half by the employer. This means that each party pays 6.2% for Social Security up to a wage base limit of $142,800 and 1.45% for Medicare, with no limit. Employees who earn more than $200,000 may be charged an additional 0.9% for Medicare, which employers don’t have to match.  

FUTA Tax: FUTA (Federal Unemployment Tax Act) is a tax paid to the federal government to help states pay for unemployment benefits. The total due is 6% of the first $7,000 of each employee’s taxable income, with a maximum of $420 per employee per year. Many states receive credit for state unemployment tax of 5.4%. This brings the net federal tax rate down to 0.6%. Unlike FICA taxes, only employers are responsible for paying for FUTA, not employees.  

Form 940: Form 940, also known as the “Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment”, is used to report a business’s FUTA tax. Together with state unemployment tax systems, the FUTA tax provides funds for paying unemployment compensation to workers who have lost their jobs. It is typically due by January 31. 

Form 941: Form 941, also known as the “Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return”, is used to report payroll taxes and employee wages. This form reports federal income and FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare) to the IRS each quarter. It is usually due on the last day of the month following the end of a quarter (e.g., 4/30, 7/31, 10/31, 1/31).  

Form 944: Form 944 is designed so the smallest employers (those whose annual liability for Social Security, Medicare, and withheld federal income taxes is $1,000 or less) will file and pay these taxes only once a year instead of every quarter. 

Form 1099-MISC: This form is used to report payments made to independent contractors who cover their own employment taxes.  

Form I-9: Form I-9 is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired in the United States. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form. 

Form W-2: Form W-2 is filed by employers to report wages, tips, and other compensation paid to employees as well as FICA tax and withheld income taxes. It is typically due annually to employees and the SSA by January 31.  

Form W-3: The W-3 form is completed by employers that summarizes the total W-2 earnings from all employees to the SSA. It’s also known as the “Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statements”. It is typically due annually on January 31.  

Form W-4: Form W-4 is filled out by employees (usually during the new hire onboarding process) to indicate the number of allowances they want to take. The employer uses the form to calculate how much of an employee’s salary is withheld for tax purposes. 

Form WH-347 (Certified Payroll Report): Form WH-347 lists every employee, their wages, their benefits, the type of work they did, and the hours they worked. It also shows withholdings and gross wages and includes a statement of compliance.  

If your business works on a federal contract over $2,000, you must submit weekly WH-347 certified payroll reports to the government in order to stay compliant with the Davis Bacon Act, which ensures workers are paid fairly. 


Garnishments: Garnishments are like deductions and withholdings. It is a type of payment that some employees must make to cover debts. For example, courts sometimes issue garnishment orders for debts like student loans, small claims judgments, child support, or other amounts the employee owes. Employers must comply with garnishment notices.  

Gross Pay: Gross pay, also called gross wages, is the total amount an employee earns before payroll deductions. It’s the amount an employee sees on an offer of employment. For example, say you hire Matt and say you’ll pay him a $50,000 salary. His gross pay is $50,000 annually.  


Income Tax Withholding: Income tax withholding is the money an employer withholds from an employee’s paycheck to pay for the employee’s portion of federal or state income taxes. Employees let their employers know how much to withhold by filling out Form W-4 and a state withholding certificate. W-4s are typically completed during the hiring process. Unlike payroll taxes, employers never contribute to paying their employees’ income taxes 


Minimum Wage: Minimum wage is the lowest hourly amount an employer can pay employees under federal or state law.  


Net Pay: Net pay is the amount an employee takes home after taxes and other payroll deductions. For example, an hourly-waged employee making $15/hour and working 80 hours per pay period has a gross pay of $1,200 (15 x 80 =1200). But, after deductions, the employee’s net pay (or take-home pay) is $900.  

Non-Exempt Employees: Non-exempt employees are not exempt from overtime pay, meaning employers must pay them overtime according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt depends on how much they are paid, how they are paid, and what kind of work they do.  


Overtime Pay: Non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours a week are entitled to a higher rate of pay for the additional work. This is called overtime pay. Federal overtime laws (FLSA) require employers to pay certain employees who work more than 40 hours in a week at least “time and a half” for the extra time they put in.  


Partial Pay: Under normal circumstances, payroll processing takes place at the predetermined end of a pay period. However, if an employee is hired, promoted, or terminated, that payroll may begin or end in the middle of the usual pay period. In this situation, the partial pay system is used. 

Paycheck: Paychecks are checks issued to employees for working. The amount of a paycheck is the employee’s net pay (gross pay minus payroll deductions).  

Payroll Deductions: Payroll deductions are all the taxes, benefits, and other payments taken out of an employee’s paycheck. It’s the difference between an employee’s gross pay and net pay.  

Payroll Taxes: Payroll taxes are taxes that are based on an employee’s compensation, including an employee’s wages, salary, and tips. Unlike income tax, which can be used by the federal government in a variety of ways, payroll taxes are used specifically to fund social service programs in the United States. Payroll tax examples: FICA, FUTA, SUTA.  

Pay Period: Pay periods refer to how frequently a business runs payroll. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay employees regularly. Your pay-period options are weekly (52 pay periods/year), biweekly (every other week, 26 pay periods/year), semimonthly (twice a month, 24 pay periods/year), or monthly (12 pay periods/year).  

Pay Stub: Pay stubs accompany paychecks. They show how the paycheck was calculated by breaking down the number of hours worked, pay rates, and payroll deductions subtracted from gross pay.  


Retroactive Pay: If an employee has not received compensation for hours worked in a previous pay period, the employer may be required to provide retroactive pay or payment outside of the originally scheduled pay period. Retroactive pay can apply to both hourly wages and overtime earnings. 


Severance Pay: When employees are terminated through no fault of their own, they may be eligible for a special payment known as severance pay. This is designed to tide recently terminated employees over until they can obtain employment again.  

Standard Industrial Classification Code (SIC): SIC codes are four-digit numerical codes assigned by the government to business establishments to identify the primary business of the establishment. SIC is typically assigned after businesses apply for a federal employer identification number (FEIN) and are based upon the primary activity or output that a company is engaged in.  

Supplemental Wages: Supplemental wages are types of compensation received by employees other than their regular pay, such as bonuses, commissions, and severance pay.  

SUTA: SUTA (State Unemployment Tax Act) tax, also known as SUI (State Unemployment Insurance), is a tax that funds each state’s unemployment fund and is used by employees who have separated from their place of employment. Similar to FUTA taxes, SUTA is paid for by the employer, not the employee. Annual tax rates vary from year to year. 


Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN): TIN is an identification number used by the IRS in the administration of tax laws. It is issued by the SSA or by the IRS and used on returns, statements, and other tax-related documents.  


Withholding: Withholding refers to amounts taken from an employee’s paycheck for several different types of taxes: Federal/State income taxes, FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare).

Employer Healthcare: 


Affordable Care Act: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a federal statute that was enacted in 2010. It was established to expand access to healthcare coverage, control healthcare costs, and improve healthcare quality and coordination. Major provisions under the ACA came into force in 2014 and by 2016 the number of uninsured was halved and ~20 million people gained access to healthcare coverage.  


COBRA: COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985)) is a federal law that gives workers and their families the opportunity to continue their group health benefits provided by the employer’s health plan for certain specified periods of time if they lose coverage under the plan as a result of certain qualifying events.  

Copay: A copay is a flat fee that you pay on the spot each time you visit your doctor or pick up your medication.  


Deductible: A deductible is a fixed dollar amount you pay each calendar year before your health plan will pay for certain services. For example, if you have a $2,000 yearly deductible, you’ll need to pay the first $2,000 of your total eligible medical costs before your plan helps to pay.  

Dependent: An individual (typically a child) for whom a parent, relative, or other person provides healthcare. The person supporting the dependent may claim a personal exemption tax deduction.  

Dual Coverage: If an employee has two jobs, they could be enrolled in health plans from both employers. Or, if they’re married, they could be enrolled in a plan through their employer and their spouse’s employer. 


Group plan: Group plans are health policies selected and purchased by employers and offered to eligible employees and their dependents. These are also sometimes called employer-sponsored plans.  


Form 1094-B: The ACA requires certain employers to offer health insurance coverage to full-time employees and their dependents. Those employers must send an annual statement (Form 1094-B) to the IRS describing the insurance available to employees.  

Form 1094-C: The ACA requires certain employers to offer health insurance coverage to full-time employees and their dependents. Form 1094-C must be completed by employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees. All other employers use Form 1094-B.  

Form 1095: The ACA requires certain employers to offer health insurance coverage to full-time employees and their dependents. Those employers must send an annual statement (Form 1095) to all employees eligible for coverage describing the insurance available to them. Form 1095-B must be completed by the carrier or plan sponsor if an employer provides fully insured health coverage to their employees. Meanwhile, Form 1095-C must be completed for those with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees.  


HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that requires national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge. HIPAA regulations are used in the workplace to protect the health and medical records of employees participating in an employer-sponsored healthcare plan.  

HMO Plan: A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plan gives you access to certain doctors and hospitals within its network. This network is made up of providers that have agreed to lower their rates for plan members and meet quality standards. Compared to PPOs, HMOs cost less but typically have more restrictions for coverage than other plans, such as allowing only a certain number of visits, tests, or treatments. With an HMO plan, all care must be provided or arranged by your primary care provider (PCP), except for emergency care.  


Individual Plans: Individual plans are health plans for people who don’t have health insurance through their employer. Individuals typically pay the entire amount of the monthly premiums.  

Insurance Riders: Insurance carriers offer plan riders which companies may choose to add to their basic insurance plans. Plan riders augment basic plans by providing additional coverage for certain items that are purchased separately from basic insurance coverage. 

In-Network: Rates of hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, and specialists who are in-network are predetermined and negotiated. As a result, you end up paying less when you receive in-network treatment.  


Network: The facilities, providers, and suppliers one’s health insurer or plan has contracted with to provide health care services.  


Open Enrollment: Open enrollment is a specific period during which employers/employees can make changes to their health plan coverage for the next plan year. For employees, it’s the only time that they can change their coverage unless they experience a qualifying life event.  

Out-of-Network: Out-of-network treatment does not have an agreed-upon rate for the services offered, so you may end up paying considerably more for those visits. Some plans provide partial coverage for services received out-of-network while others provide none.  

Out-of-Pocket Maximum: Out-of-pocket maximum is the most you could pay for covered medical expenses in a year. Once you reach your annual out-of-pocket maximum, your health plan will pay your covered medical and prescription costs for the rest of the year. 


PPO Plan: A PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) plan offers the max amount of freedom and has an extensive plan network. Like HMOs, PPO plans also feature a network of providers, but there are fewer restrictions on seeing non-network providers (although there are usually higher out-of-pocket costs to see out-of-network providers). With this option, you are responsible for managing your health and need no referral to see a specialist.  

Premium: A health insurance premium is an amount that employees and employers must pay for a health insurance plan. Employers may pay the entire cost of the health insurance premium or share the cost with their employees.  

Primary Care Provider: A Primary Care Provider (PCP) is a physician or other health care provider who treats you for common illnesses, manages your preventive care and well-being, and refers you to a specialist when necessary.  


Qualifying Life Event: A qualifying life event is a change in a situation that can make employees eligible for a special enrollment period that allows them to enroll in health insurance outside the yearly open enrollment period. A qualifying life event can be one of the following: a) marriage, b) birth of a child, c) adoption of a child, d) legal separation/divorce, e) death in the family, f) employee turns 26 (and loses prior coverage under parent’s plan), g) move to a new location or h) involuntary loss of previous coverage. 

Extra Benefits & Perks: 


401(k) Retirement Plan*: A 401(k) retirement plan is a company-sponsored retirement account that employees can contribute to by agreeing to have a percentage of each paycheck paid directly into an investment account. Employers may also make matching contributions, although it’s not required.  


Accident Insurance*: Accident insurance is an extra layer of protection that pays you cash when you suffer an unexpected, qualifying accident. It provides you with money to cover any extra, out-of-pocket expenses associated with your injury.  


Birthday Holidays: On top of regular paid time off (PTO), some employers choose to offer their employees extra paid holidays each year like a paid birthday holiday that can be taken within a certain number of days of the actual date. This is one example of an easy benefit that makes employees feel good and appreciated.  


Cancer Insurance*: Cancer insurance, also known as specified-disease insurance in some states, helps you pay for medical expenses like chemotherapy and non-medical expenses like travel and lodging, etc. to help keep life as normal as possible for you and your family.  

Casual Dress Code: Offering a casual dress code, or even “casual dress Fridays” can be an easy, low-cost perk to offer certain, non-client-facing employees and create a comfortable work environment. 

Compensation*: Compensation is an overarching term that refers to all the types of payments an employee earns. Examples of compensation include salary and hourly wages, but also variable pay like bonuses, sales commissions, profit sharing, etc.  

Critical Illness Insurance*: Critical illness insurance provides additional coverage for medical emergencies like heart attacks, strokes, or cancer. Although not every disease is covered, a critical illness insurance policy will cover many of the most common and financially disruptive conditions.  


Dependent Care Account*: A dependent care account is a pre-tax benefit account used to pay for eligible dependent (child/elder) care services, such as preschool, summer day camp, before or after school programs, and child or adult daycare. It is a voluntary benefit that employers can offer employees during open enrollment at little to no cost to the employer.  


Employee Assistance Programs: An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to help employees resolve personal programs that may be adversely affecting their performance. EAPs traditionally have assisted workers with issues like alcohol or substance abuse, however, most now cover a broad range of issues such as a child or elder care, relationship challenges, financial or legal problems, wellness matters, and traumatic events like workplace violence. Programs are delivered at no cost to employees by stand-alone EAP vendors or providers who are part of comprehensive health insurance plans. Services are often delivered via phone, video-based counseling, online chatting, e-mail interactions or face-to-face. 


Floating Holiday*: A floating holiday is a paid day off that each employee can decide when to take. A floating holiday is generally given in addition to the typical paid holidays that most employers provide as a benefit.  

Flexible Schedule: A flexible work schedule is an alternative to the traditional 9 to 5, 40-hour work week. It allows employees to vary their arrival and/or departure times.  

Flexible Spending Account*: A flexible spending account is a pre-tax benefit account used to pay for eligible health out-of-pocket costs. It can include things like acne treatments, orthodontic care, massage therapy, first aid supplies, etc. With an FSA, employees set aside pre-tax dollars during open enrollment which is then broken up and deducted evenly from each paycheck. 

Note: Whatever funds employees don’t use by the end of the plan get forfeited so it’s important that they plan accordingly.  


Hospital Confinement & Indemnity Insurance*: Hospital indemnity insurance is a supplemental insurance plan designed to pay for the costs of hospital admission that may not be covered by other insurance (e.g., someone who is admitted to a hospital or ICU for a covered sickness or injury). Payments can be used for any purpose, including medical copays, deductibles, or even regular expenses such as food, rent, and utilities.  

Hybrid work*: A hybrid work model is a plan that incorporates a mixture of in-office and remote work in an employee’s schedule. Employees occasionally can pick and choose when they work from home and when they come into the office. There is no one-size-fits-all hybrid model. Each company develops a hybrid model based on the needs of the company and the needs of the individual employee. 


Life Insurance: Life insurance is a method of providing funds payable to named beneficiaries upon the death of the insured. Many employers offer employees life insurance as a voluntary benefit.  

Long-Term Disability: Disability insurance is sometimes called “disability income insurance.” It is designed to replace a portion of your income if you are unable to work because of a serious illness or injury. Long-term disability is intended to provide benefits for a longer period. Benefit periods for long-term disability insurance are usually stated in years: 5, 10, 20, or even until you reach retirement age, depending on your plan.  


Paid Time Off*: Paid Time Off (PTO) is compensated time away from work that’s for employees to use as they see fit. PTO is often measured in hours and classified for different types of absences like sickness, vacation time, and personal time.  

Parental Leave*: Parental leave refers to the period that a caregiver takes off from work following the birth of his/her baby. Parental leave is usually created from a variety of benefits that include sick leave, vacation, holiday time, personal days, short-term disability, and unpaid family leave time. While employers aren’t required to offer paid paternity leave, offering it can make employers stand out. 

Parking & Transit Account*: A Parking & Transit Account allows you to use tax-free dollars to pay for monthly parking lot fees and mass transit programs (i.e., Bus Pass). It is a voluntary benefit that employers can offer employees during open enrollment at little to no cost to the employer. 


Short-Term Disability Insurance: Disability insurance is sometimes called “disability income insurance” because it is designed to replace a portion of your income if you are unable to work because of a serious illness or injury. Short-term disability insurance is intended to cover you for a short period of time following an illness or injury that keeps you out of work. While policies vary, short-term disability insurance typically covers you for a term between 3-6 months.  

Student Loan Repayment Assistance*: Student loan repayment assistance programs allow employers to help employees pay off their loans faster. These programs have the potential to make a big impact on workplace satisfaction and the financial outlook of employees that participate.  

Supplemental Insurance*: Employers can offer employees access to supplemental insurance plans as a benefit. Supplemental health insurance covers costs above and beyond what traditional health plans will pay. Examples of supplemental health insurance include accident insurance, short-term disability insurance, cancer insurance, etc. 


Total Rewards*: A “Total Rewards” package or program is an HR term used to describe the strategic blend of monetary rewards (e.g., salary, bonuses, etc.) and non-monetary rewards (e.g. healthcare, career coaching, PTO, free office snacks, etc.) a company offers its employees to attract and keep them. Unlike other reward programs, Total Rewards takes a step back to holistically look at the value a company offers its employees across the entire organization.  

Training and Development*: One of the best ways for employees to enhance knowledge and skills is through training, which also helps to build employer loyalty and retention as well. It can include formal employer-provided professional and leadership training programs, but it can also include things like regular lunch and learns, mentorship opportunities, online course/certification reimbursement, etc.  


Voluntary Benefits*: Voluntary benefits are products and services that are offered by employers but paid for mostly or 100% by employees via payroll deductions. Voluntary benefits are supplemental to other traditional benefits (health insurance, retirement, etc.) and don’t have direct costs to the employer. Examples of voluntary benefits include supplemental insurance, flexible spending accounts (FSA), dependent care accounts, etc.  

Variable Pay*: Variable pay, also known as performance pay, is used to recognize and reward employee contributions above and beyond their normal job requirements. It includes things like annual incentives, bonus payments, sales commissions, and profit sharing. 

HR Terms & More 


Affirmative Action: Affirmative action plans and policies define an employer’s standard for proactively recruiting, hiring, and promoting women, minorities, disabled individuals, and veterans. Affirmative action is deemed a moral and social obligation to amend historical wrongs and eliminate the present effects of past discrimination.  

ADA: ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is a law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities when it comes to employment, housing, education, communication, transportation, and other public and private services. The ADA covers employment actions such as recruiting, hiring, firing, training, job assignments, promotions, pay, layoff, leave, etc. Here’s one example: If a person with a disability can perform the essential functions of a job, with or without reasonable accommodation, you cannot refuse to hire them because of their disability.  


Behavior-Based Interviewing: Behavioral-based interviewing is interviewing based on discovering how the interviewee acted in specific employment-related situations. The logic is that how you behaved in the past will predict how you will behave in the future, i.e. Past behavior predicts future performance. Common behavior-based interview questions include: “Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure”, “How do you handle a challenge? Give an example”, “Have you ever made a mistake? How did you handle it?”, “Give an example of how you set goals” or “Describe a decision you made that wasn’t popular and explain how you handled implementing it.” 

Bereavement Leave: Bereavement leave is a leave category that tracks the time employees take away from work after the death of a family member or other loved one. There are no requirements to offer paid leave for bereavement although some employers may provide a period of paid leave to make it easier for employees to cope with their loss.  


Career Pathing: Career pathing is the process in which employers and employees work together to chart a course for career development inside the organization. It focuses on identifying vertical and lateral opportunities for advancement and understanding the skills, experiences, and personal and professional competencies necessary for success in each new role. When designed and implemented effectively, career pathing can dramatically improve employee engagement, retention, and loyalty.  

Cross-Training: Cross-training is the practice of training employees to work in several different roles or training them to do tasks that lie outside their normal responsibilities. This can help teams to react quickly to changing goals and business conditions. It can also help with succession planning.  


Disciplinary Action: Disciplinary action is a reprimand or corrective action in response to employee misconduct, rule violation, or poor performance. Disciplinary action can take different forms, including a verbal warning, written warning, poor performance review or evaluation, performance improvement plan, reduction in rank or pay, or termination. 


Equal Employment Opportunity: Equal employment opportunity is a concept that emphasizes that opportunities in employment should be freely available to all citizens irrespective of a person’s ethnic origin, political association, religion, sex, race, color, gender, pregnancy, spirituality, belief, disability, military status, genetic information and age that has no bearing on his qualification, performance, and ability.  

EEOC: The U.S. EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Council) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered. The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.  

Emotional Intelligence: Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict.  

Employee: An employee is an individual who works under the supervision or control of an employer. An employee works in the service of the employer under an express or implied contract of hire that gives the employer the right to dictate the employee’s work duties. 

Employee Engagement: Employee engagement is a workplace method designed to improve an employee’s feelings and emotional attachment to the company, job duties, position within the company, fellow employees, and the company culture. While all departments throughout the company can and should execute various employee engagement measures, HR departments are particularly vital for employee engagement approaches to be successful.  

Employee Handbook: An employee handbook provides guidance and information on a company’s mission, vision, values, policies and procedures, and workplace code of conduct. An employee handbook also helps protect employers against discrimination or unfair treatment claims by forewarning employees of these policies, so they know what to expect.  

Employee Retention: Employee retention is the organizational goal of keeping talented employees and reducing turnover by fostering a positive work atmosphere.  

Employment-At-Will: “At will” means the employer has the right to fire an employee at any time for any reason. Under at-will employment, the length of employees’ tenure is not specified, so they can leave – and you can terminate them – at any time.  

Exit Interview: Exit interviews usually occur on an employee’s last day of work. These interviews are an opportunity for the employee to explain their reasons for leaving and provide feedback about their experience working for the organization.  

Experience Modification Factor: Also known as “experience mod” or “mod” for short, an experience modification factor is essentially a company’s safety score in reference to their workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Fewer injuries mean lower mods, and more injuries mean higher mods. 

Experience Rating: An experience rating is the amount of loss that the insured party experiences compared to the amount of loss that similar insured parties have. It is used by insurance providers and considers your previous loss experience in calculating your current premium. It’s based on the presumption that your historical loss experience predicts your future loss experience. Experience ratings are frequently used in workers’ compensation insurance and in unemployment insurance programs e.g., SUTA.  


FLSA: FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments. Covered nonexempt workers are entitled to a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour. Overtime pays at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate of pay is required after 40 hours of work in a workweek.  

FMLA: FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) provides eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave a year and requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave. Employees are also entitled to return to their same or an equivalent job at the end of their FMLA leave. The FMLA also provides certain military family leave entitlements. Eligible employees may take FMLA leave for specified reasons related to certain military deployments of their family members. Additionally, they may take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.  

Furlough: Furlough is “a temporary layoff from work.” People who get furloughed usually get to return to their job after a furlough. People often encounter the word furlough during government shutdowns, in which nonessential public employees are told not to go to work. Private companies can also furlough employees.  


Independent contractor: An independent contractor is an individual who is self-employed and is free from the direction and control of an employer covered under state and federal unemployment laws. The IRS has certain guidelines to determine the independent contractor (vs. employee) relationship. Upon termination of the independent contractor’s services, the individual may attempt to collect unemployment benefits.  


Jury Duty Leave: Under federal law, employers are not required to provide employees leave for jury duty selection or jury duty. An employer cannot discharge, threaten, or coerce an employee who responds to a jury summons, serves as a juror, or attends court for prospective jury service. Many states have.  


Layoff: Layoffs occur when an employer lets go of employees because they can no longer afford to pay them, their business is down, or other economic reasons—not necessarily because employees weren’t good at their jobs. 

Leave of Absence: Leave of absence is a period which employees can spend away from their normally scheduled work without jeopardizing their job standing. There are several situations that require leave by law. Common types of mandatory leave include leave medically covered in the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), military leave from work, leave for jury duty, etc. Employers can offer voluntary leave as well, including paid time off (PTO), sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, etc.  


Military Leave: Military leave is a leave of absence from work granted to employees who participate in certain active or inactive duties in the United States military, including the National Guard and Reserve of the Armed Forces. Employees who leave a civilian job for military service are legally guaranteed the right to be reinstated in their former position upon returning from duty.  


Offboarding: Offboarding is the process of formally separating an employee from the organization they work for, because of the employee’s resignation, termination, or retirement. It can include things like distributing final payment, paying out PTO balances, reviewing non-compete agreements, collecting company assets (e.g., computer), or conducting an exit interview.  

Onboarding: Onboarding is the process of introducing a newly hired employee into your organization. Onboarding includes but is not limited to new hire paperwork, policy and culture training, job training, benefits paperwork, workplace tours, and team introductions.  

OSHA: Congress created the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) in the 1970s to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance. OSHA is part of the United States Department of Labor.  

OSHA Form 300: OSHA Form 300 is a log of work-related injuries and illnesses, including their severity, the employee injured, the date the event occurred, and other details that classify the case. The second page (300A) of the OSHA Form 300 must be posted every year from February 1 to April 30 to ensure that employees see a summary of all work-related injuries and illnesses that have occurred.  

OSHA Form 301: Form 301, titled “Injury and Illness Incident Report”, is the third page of the OSHA Form 300 and is the individual report that needs to be filled in within seven days of a reported work-related injury or illness.  


Performance Management: Performance management is an ongoing process of communication between a supervisor and an employee that occurs throughout the year, in support of accomplishing the strategic objectives of the organization. The communication process includes clarifying expectations, setting objectives, identifying goals, providing feedback, and reviewing results. 

Performance Review: A performance review is a formal assessment in which a manager evaluates an employee’s work performance, identifies strengths and weaknesses, offers feedback, and sets goals for future performance. Traditional performance reviews occur annually but it’s actually a best practice to do them more often (e.g., quarterly).  

Pregnancy Leave: All employers must provide a reasonable period of leave to female employees who are disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. Leave may be paid or unpaid at the employer’s discretion. A “reasonable period” of leave is determined by the employee’s physician, based on the employee’s job requirements and physical condition. An employer may request certification from a doctor estimating the length of leave and the estimated start and end dates of leave.  

Professional Employer Organization: A professional employer organization (PEO) is a type of full-service HR outsourcing provider that helps businesses perform various employee administration tasks, such as payroll and benefits administration, on behalf of a business. Some PEOs also have strategic services, but no two are exactly alike, so it’s important to research providers and compare their capabilities.  

Protected Classes: A protected class is a category in which people are qualified for special protection by a law, policy, or similar authority. Protected classes covered by Federal law include race, color, sex, sexual orientation, condition of pregnancy, breastfeeding, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, marital status, arrest and court record, income assignment for child support, national guard absence, uniformed service, veteran status, citizenship, credit history, domestic or sexual violence, or any other classification protected under applicable state or federal laws.  


Reduction in Force: A reduction in force (RIF) occurs when a position is eliminated with no intention of replacing it and results in a permanent cut in headcount. An employer may decide to reduce its workforce by terminating employees or by means of attrition. In some circumstances, a layoff may turn into a RIF when a permanent decision is made to not recall employees.  

Remote Work: Remote work means working from anywhere other than the office, which can be your home, cafe, or just a coworking space. Instead of coming to the office and interacting with team members face to face, remote workers use digital tools to handle tasks, complete projects and communicate with their team.  


Sick Leave: Sick leave is time off due to the employee’s illness. In many companies, sick leave is also allotted to employees to attend to the needs of a sick child or other dependents. There are two types of sick leave: paid sick leave and unpaid sick leave. At the federal level, there are no mandatory paid sick leave laws, only unpaid sick leave under the ADA and FMLA.  

Stay Interviews: Stay interviews are conducted to help managers understand why employees stay and what might cause them to leave. In an effective stay interview, managers ask standard, structured questions in a casual and conversational manner. Sample questions include: What keeps you working here? What motivates (or demotivates) you? What might tempt you to leave? 

Succession Planning: It’s not just for passing on leadership roles. Succession planning focuses on identifying and developing employees to help them advance within an organization. Succession planning is important because, as an organization grows, it’s more cost-effective to develop current employees for key positions rather than hire new people. Giving employees a clear path forward in their careers via a succession plan can also boost engagement and retention.  


TDI: TDI (temporary disability insurance) is a type of business insurance that provides benefits to employees who are unable to work due to injury or illness that’s not work-related (e.g., auto accident; broken hand playing basketball, etc.). 


Victim’s Leave: All employers must provide eligible employees with unpaid leave due to domestic or sexual violence. Employers with 50 or more employees must provide eligible employees with up to 30 days of leave per calendar year. Employers with fewer than 50 employees must provide eligible employees up to five days per calendar year. To be eligible, an employee must have been employed for at least six consecutive months and must be (or have a minor child who is) a victim of domestic or sexual violence. HR is hard. Don’t tackle it alone. See why Procare HR is a trusted HR partner for more than 14,000 client employees. Let’s connect! 

Voting Leave: Employers must provide employees with up to two hours (excluding meals and breaks) of paid leave to vote. An employee is not eligible for voting leave if he or she has two consecutive non-working hours (excluding meals and breaks) in which to vote.  


Upskilling: Upskilling focuses on improving current employees’ skill sets, usually through training, so they can advance in their jobs and find different roles and opportunities within the company.  

USERRA: The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is a federal law that establishes various rights and benefits for employees and applicants for employment who have served in the military or have engaged in other forms of protected governmental service. USERRA requires employers to provide leaves of absence and to re-employ workers who enter military service while employed.  


Workers’ Compensation: Workers’ compensation is a type of business insurance that provides benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Specifically, it helps to pay for medical care, wages from lost work time, and more. 

If you’re not sure about HR, reach out to the HR experts at Procare HR. We have expertise in organizations that serve seniors and individuals with disabilities such as Assisted Living, Group Homes, Memory Care, Home Care, Day Programs, Skilled Nursing, and more. Procare HR alleviates the burden of managing HR all on your own so you can focus on delivering care. Get HR Help Now

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