Nobody ever said running a business was a walk in the park. As an employer, you have a lot of balls in the air, and compliance is just one of them. One really, really important one that, if dropped, could cost you a whole lot of money.
In addition to federal regulations, each state has their own share of employment-related laws that business owners need to be aware of. Here, we’re highlighting some of these key state-specific requirements and laws, and offering guidance to help you keep up.
Bear in mind, this list is not comprehensive, and there may be local or industry-specific employment requirements that your business needs to comply with. It’s best to consult with counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable laws, as Justworks does not provide legal advice.
Payroll Tax Accounts
Because Justworks reports state unemployment taxes on your behalf, you’ll need to close your Wisconsin State Unemployment and Withholding accounts prior to joining our platform. Here are the steps to do that.
Recruiting & Hiring Practices
Employers may not inquire about arrests during the hiring process, but may ask applicants about pending charges and convictions. Employers may not base hiring decisions on this information unless the offenses are substantially related to the particular job.
Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD): Arrest and Conviction Record
When classifying workers as employees or independent contractors, there are a few things to consider, including the different tests that apply under different federal and state employment laws, and potential penalties and other liabilities for misclassifying employees as independent contractors. Certain state laws apply tests that are more stringent than the guidance provided by federal agencies, such as the IRS and Department of Labor, to comply with federal laws.
You can read our general Help Center article on contractors, and view information on how to determine if someone is a contractor or employee in Wisconsin at the link below.
Wisconsin DWD: Worker Classification
Wisconsin employers can find the most up-to-date minimum wage requirements from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.
Wisconsin has exemption regulations that differ in some ways from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and employers should review when determining whether an employee is exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements.
In addition to federal requirements regarding overtime for time worked over 40 hours in a week, Wisconsin has special daily overtime provisions relating to minors. Read more on overtime and hours of work in Wisconsin here.
Meal & Rest Breaks
Meal and rest breaks are not required for employees 18 or older, but the Department of Workforce Development recommends providing breaks of at least 30 minutes. Generally, breaks of 30 minutes or more need not be paid, but breaks under 30 minutes should be counted as work time. Please note that there are also break requirements for minors and requirements related to consecutive days of work for certain industries.
State Family and Medical Leave
Under the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WFMLA), employers with 50 or more employees must provide unpaid, protected leave to eligible employees in Wisconsin. This leave may be taken to receive or give care for a serious health condition, or for the birth or adoption of a child, though the duration of available leave varies in length, depending on the qualifying event.
Wisconsin DWD: Wisconsin Family And Medical Leave Act
Harassment & Discrimination
Wisconsin requires that employers of any size create a workspace environment free from discrimination and harassment based on a number of protected characteristics.
Wisconsin employers should familiarize themselves with specific compliance requirements for terminating employees.
If the employee quits or is discharged, the employee must receive their final wages in accordance with the employer's regular pay schedule or within 31 days, whichever is earlier.
Wisconsin employers are not required to pay unused, accrued vacation upon termination so long as this practice is established in a written policy. If an employee has a balance of unused, accrued vacation time upon termination and the employer has no written forfeiture clause in their vacation policy, then the employer must pay to the employee this balance along with their final wages.
Additionally, employers must provide employees with a notification of the availability of unemployment insurance benefits upon separation from employment.
Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development: Frequently Asked Questions
Business Closings and Layoffs
Federal and Wisconsin state laws impose certain notice and other obligations on covered businesses before conducting large-scale business closures, layoffs, or relocations. In Wisconsin, most businesses employing 50 or more persons in the state must provide written notice 60 days before implementing a closing or mass layoff. For more information, visit the links below.
U.S. Department of Labor: Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act Advisor
Wisconsin DWD: Wisconsin's Business Closing (plant closing) and Mass Layoff Law
ThinkHR: Wisconsin Plant Closings*
*Be sure you’re logged into your Justworks account with administrative permissions to access ThinkHR.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.