My Organization Just Reached 50 Employees—What Do I Need to Do?

by Chelsea Jensen, MBA, SHRM-SCP, PHR, Human Resource Services

Bulletin,  California,  Family and Medical Leave Act

When your organization reaches 50 or more employees, there are some federal and state regulations that should be considered in order to ensure compliance.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA applies to any private-sector employer who has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. The FMLA requires these employers provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for their employees. Note: Public employers are covered under the FMLA regardless of size; however, as in the private sector, employees must still meet eligibility requirements.

Here are a few helpful items to consider:

  • An employer is not immediately covered under the FMLA when it reaches the 50-employee threshold. The employer needs to maintain 50 employees on the payroll for a period of 20 or more calendar workweeks (not necessarily consecutive workweeks) in either the current or preceding calendar year.
  • The employer remains covered until it reaches a future point where it no longer has employed 50 employees for 20 (consecutive or non-consecutive) workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year. For example, if the employer falls below 50 in 2017, it would remain covered until it fell out of coverage in 2019.

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Some ACA provisions depend on employer size. The two major regulations that start when an employer hits 50 employees are:

  • Employer Shared Responsibility Provision – Employers with 50 or more full-time and/or full-time equivalent (FTE) employees must follow the Employer Shared Responsibility Provision. Employers with 50 or more full-time employees and/or FTEs that don’t offer affordable health insurance to qualified employees may be subject to penalties.
  • ACA Reporting – Once you have 50 or more full-time employees and/or FTE employees, you also have new responsibilities for information reporting. The IRS Q&A details the pertinent information about your potential reporting requirements.

Form 5500

Form 5500 is used to collect information on employees’ benefits, including insurance and pension plans. The form needs to be completed by any employer who sponsors a plan subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Plans that are subject to ERISA generally include medical, dental, 401(k), and retirement plans. If your plan has under 100 employees, you may only need to fill out the short version of the form. See this IRS chart for more information.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action plans (AAPs) outline an organization’s policies and procedures for proactively recruiting, hiring, training, and promoting women, minorities, people with disabilities, and veterans to ensure that all individuals have equal opportunities in employment. Employers with 50 or more employees and $50,000 in government contracts must have an Affirmative Action Plan.

EEO-1 Reporting

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires all federal contractors who have 50 or more employees to fill out and submit the EEO-1 Report. The report requires employers to provide a count of employees by job and then by race, ethnicity, and gender.

State Laws

An organization could be subject to state regulations once they reach 50 employees. For example, if you have more than 50 employees in California, you are required to provide sexual harassment training to managers or supervisors within six months of assuming a supervisory position and every two years thereafter.

It can be exciting to work for a growing organization! At the same time, it’s important to pay attention to relevant state and federal regulations to ensure compliance. As always, MSEC is here to help.


About the author
Chelsea Jensen, MBA, SHRM-SCP, PHR, Human Resource Services

Chelsea is a consultant in Employers Council's Human Resource Services department. She works with employers on issues such as policy development, employee relations, and benefits. She also conducts training for HR and management professionals. Prior to her work at the Council, Chelsea was a Benefits Specialist at a large bank in Buffalo, NY. She received her MBA with a concentration in Human Resources from Niagara University located near Niagara Falls, NY. Chelsea has been certified by the Society for Human Resource Management as a Certified Professional (SHRM-CP).