If you’re a business owner or work in human resources, you know that changes in employment laws are something that is always relevant to your company. Employment laws can change for a variety of reasons across local, state and federal jurisdictions. Sometimes landmark cases are the catalyst for changes, while often societal shifts or new best practices lead to new policies. Whatever the case may be, keeping up with employment law is an essential part of business. Failing to do so could cost your company thousands of dollars in court fees. Read on to learn about five of the most recent changes in legal policies regarding employment practices.

Increased Federal Contractor Minimum Wage

As of the first of this year, 2016, the new minimum wage requirement for federal contract workers to be paid is $10.15 per hour. The path to this implementation began back in 2014 with the signing of Executive Order 13658 by President Obama, which outlined the proposed minimum federal contractor wage, along with thresholds on any increased to be made in the future. A component that falls under this Executive Order states that tipped employees of this category shall be paid $5.85 per hour.

Changes in Federal Wage Law

Of the biggest changes in employment laws comes with the decision to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by the Department of Labor. The section of this act to be modified center around wage and overtime. An update to the FLSA hasn’t taken place since 2004. The update has specific ramifications with regard to overtime pay and is expected to extend overtime provisions to more than four million workers in the United States within its first year. The stipulations within the act’s revisions require that any employee who is paid less than $50,400 per year must receive overtime pay when working beyond 40 hours in any week.

Increased OSHA Penalties

The role of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to ensure that regulations are in place to keep workers, employment sites and communities safe. Health and safety violations come with significant fines. In fact, beginning August 1, fines may increase up to 80%. This is in attempts to achieve a “catch-up adjustment” in fines through a November 2015 bi-partisan bill. OSHA hasn’t made adjustments to the levying of fines since 1990. Companies will now need to take extreme care to avoid OSHA infractions.

Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has been working tirelessly for the past couple of years to ensure the rights of pregnant women are enforced. Pulling from the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the CRA, among others, the Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (PWFA) provides employers with concrete mandates that cover various aspects of pregnancy. The PWFA is meant to prevent families from having to make a decision between continuing employment and pursuing pregnancy.

Federal “Ban the Box” Law

The Federal Fair Chance Act (FFCA) is a highly supported bi-partisan bill whose mission is to remove the box that asks about criminal history from job applications. The purpose of this legislation is to even the playing field for all job applicants and to ensure that a criminal record does not prevent a person from being hired once they’ve served their time. Many cities and states across the national have already implemented their own “ban the box” initiatives.

As you can see, there are a number of areas in which business owners and human resources professionals should be aware with regard to legislation that could affect daily practices. These changes in employment laws span a broad array of business sectors and can have significant ramifications on your organization if you do not comply with them.

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