As the complexity of compliance tasks grows with the arrival of new regulations, automation for compliance tasks will be a huge trend for 2016. The ramped-up implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may be the best example, showing how regulatory complexity imposes ever-more stress on your team. Automation tools are also getting better all the time — working more quickly, seamlessly integrating across your data infrastructure and becoming more affordable.

As the use of automation allows an organization to reallocate employees' time to core activities rather than to manual data entry. They can reduce the occurrences of human error, as well. Let's look at a few compliance areas where automation can offer optimal competitive advantage:

Time, Attendance and Scheduling: Fair Labor Standards Act Compliance

By using automation for compliance tasks related to time, attendance and scheduling, you not only boost efficiency, reduce regulatory fines and cut manual labor costs, but you also enhance employee engagement. Using automation, for example, to enable remote employees to punch in from their mobile devices allows employees to work from anywhere. Automated timekeeping is integrally beneficial for compliance and engagement as technology makes remote-working accessible to more employees.

Sharp Electronics Corporation recently automated its timekeeping, with great results in terms of cost-reduction and heightened employee satisfactions. As Susan Osgood, vice president of Human Resources for Sharp, explained on Morningstar, "Employees have really embraced the new time reporting system. And the mobile application allows them to see their allotments and accruals and enter their time if they're a field employee. Our employees are seeing there are easier ways to do things. Now, they can go online, and their managers can review and approve their time sheets."

ACA Compliance

ACA compliance may be the most complex challenge your business faces, since the federal government continues to issue new requirements as well as requests for information and set tighter deadlines with larger penalties. Companies are scrambling to organize their internal employee-related data systems to collect and submit data necessary for ACA compliance. Bruce Clark, CFO of Hooters Management Corporations, reflects the concerns of many business leaders, "In our restaurants, the vast majority of our employees are variable hour workers whose time will change shift to shift, week to week. We need to constantly monitor employees' hours — 12 months a year — to determine who is required to be offered health coverage benefits and whether that coverage is affordable, which can be a significant challenge."

As ACA complexity grows, and organizations allocate more human resource tasks in a race to meet ACA requirements, automation is becoming an increasingly attractive option. Automation can track hours, determine eligibility, organize data for reporting, submit appropriate reports and generally reduce your exposure to the burgeoning fines and taxes that are the cost of ACA compliance gaps. Automation can close those gaps.

Wage Garnishment Compliance

According to the white paper Garnishment: The Untold Story, 7.2 percent of U.S. employees had their wages garnished in 2013, with that rate jumping to 10.5 percent for employees between 35 and 44 years old. Companies must not only comply with complex federal and state regulations when it comes to wage garnishment, but they must also provide employees with confidentiality when their wages are garnished. Failure to comply with a wage garnishment order can put companies in hot water, fast. Under current Georgia law, for example, companies can be liable for an employee's underlying financial obligations, according to Daily Report Online. Unfair? Perhaps. Risky for companies with compliance gaps? Absolutely.

As the white paper recommends, "Moving to an automated, all-electronic garnishment process can help companies scale back on the amount of internal resources dedicated to tracking materials and submitting garnishment orders. This new approach can also decrease the amount of time typically associated with multiple rounds of review by several entities. Using a secure API-based interface, important garnishment information can quickly be compiled and shared with employers, third-party service providers and state agencies simultaneously."

Automation for compliance tasks makes more sense every day. Automation offers more efficiency in the form of faster processing with fewer errors, reduced fines and taxes, additional time for your people to perform more strategic functions and increased engagement brought about by employees working on more meaningful tasks.

Tags: compliance Automation