How to Conduct an HR Compliance Audit

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As we know, compliance stands as a critical pillar that ensures an organisation operates within legal frameworks and ethical standards. As HR professionals well-versed in the challenges of compliance, you understand the importance of maintaining adherence to regulations and policies. A proactive approach to compliance is essential to mitigate risks, foster a culture of transparency, and safeguard the interests of both the organisation and its employees.

As an HR professional, you are responsible for safeguarding organisations from legal and reputational risks. But how can you audit your HR compliance efforts and identify ways to improve? This article serves as an informative guide to tick off your compliance audit checklist. We will shed light on why compliance is so important, key areas to consider and how HR software can streamline processes and procedures.

Understanding HR Compliance Audits

An HR compliance audit serves as a systematic and comprehensive review of an organisation’s HR processes, policies, and practices. It assesses whether these align with legal requirements and industry standards, identifies areas of non-compliance, and provides a roadmap for corrective actions. This proactive endeavour not only helps avoid legal pitfalls and financial penalties but also contributes to a robust organisational reputation and a positive work environment.

Compliance audits help organisations avoid legal pitfalls and financial penalties by identifying any discrepancies between HR practices and legal requirements. By systematically reviewing policies, processes, and employee records, these audits provide a comprehensive overview of an organisation’s compliance status. This proactive approach not only minimises the risk of legal actions but also fosters a reputation of integrity, enhancing the organisation’s credibility in the eyes of employees, stakeholders, and regulatory bodies.

Secondly, regular compliance audits contribute to a positive work environment by promoting fairness and transparency. By uncovering any gaps or inconsistencies in areas such as recruitment, compensation, benefits, and diversity practices, organisations can take corrective actions to ensure that employees are treated equitably. This not only boosts employee morale and engagement but also establishes a foundation for trust within the organisation. Furthermore, compliance audits help organisations stay current with evolving regulations, ensuring that their HR practices remain up-to-date and relevant in a rapidly changing legal landscape. 

An HR Compliance Audit vs. General HR Audit

It’s important to distinguish an HR compliance audit from a more general HR audit. Compliance audits are all about mitigating risk; an HR compliance audit primarily centres on assessing the organisation’s adherence to legal regulations, industry standards, and ethical guidelines. The main goal is to ensure that HR practices align with the applicable laws and regulations.


In contrast, a more general HR audit encompasses a broader assessment of the overall effectiveness and efficiency of an organisation’s HR functions. While compliance is a part of this audit, it also covers other strategic HR areas such as talent management, employee engagement, training and development, performance management, and workforce planning. The general HR audit evaluates how HR practices contribute to the achievement of organisational goals, employee satisfaction, and the overall health of the workforce. It seeks to identify areas where HR practices can be optimised to enhance employee productivity, streamline processes, and align HR strategies with the organisation’s strategic objectives.


Now that we’ve explained in detail what a compliance audit is, let’s take a look at how to conduct one.

Steps Involved in Conducting a Compliance Audit

Preparing for the audit

  1. Define the Scope:

First, it’s important to outline the scope of the audit, specifying which areas, functions, and processes will be evaluated for compliance. This step ensures a focused and structured approach to the audit process.

  1. Assemble a Team:

Next, form a dedicated team comprising HR professionals, legal experts, and relevant stakeholders. Their combined expertise ensures a comprehensive assessment and a well-rounded perspective.

  1. Identify Applicable Regulations:

Research and compile a comprehensive list of laws and regulations that pertain to HR practices. These regulations serve as the benchmarks against which compliance will be evaluated.

  1. Collect Documentation:

Gather all relevant documentation, including HR policies, employee handbooks, contracts, training materials, and other relevant records.

With all this completed, it’s time to get started on the audit itself.

Identifying potential areas of risk

The first step on your audit checklist is to identify areas of risk. This involves a thorough analysis of HR functions.

These key areas include:

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding process
  • Compensation
  • Employee relations
  • Data protection

It’s important to mention how you handle this data. Ensuring that documentation is accurate and confidential will prevent the risk of data breaches.

As mentioned, an HR department must stay up-to-date with the current employment law if they want to remain compliant.

Reviewing documentation and policies

The next part of the HR audit process is a comprehensive review of a company’s HR systems and policies.

These include:

  • The employee handbook
  • Employment contracts
  • Job descriptions
  • Disciplinary matters
  • General procedures
  • Policies regarding discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Workplace safety

These documents must remain up to date at all times and should be easily accessible to all employees. Once you have reviewed all documentation and policies, you must compile a report of your findings.

Helpful hint: Place employment law compliance posters in central staff rooms for ease of reference.

Conducting interviews and surveys

Conducting interviews and surveys can play a significant role in enhancing the depth and accuracy of an HR compliance audit. By incorporating these interactive methods, organisations can gather valuable insights directly from employees, managers, and stakeholders, which can enrich the audit findings and contribute to a more comprehensive assessment of compliance.

Interviews with employees at various levels of the organisation provide a qualitative perspective on HR practices. These interviews can focus on specific areas of compliance, such as diversity and inclusion, workplace safety, or anti-discrimination efforts. Employees can share their experiences, perceptions, and concerns related to compliance, offering nuanced insights that might not be apparent through documentation alone. Their feedback can highlight areas where policies are effective, as well as areas that require improvement.

Moreover, engaging with managers and supervisors adds a managerial perspective to the audit. Managers can provide insights into the implementation of HR policies within their teams, identify challenges they encounter, and discuss how they address compliance-related issues. Their perspective sheds light on the practical application of policies and procedures on the ground.

Implementing corrective actions

Implementing corrective actions is a crucial step within the HR audit process that follows the identification of areas of non-compliance or opportunities for improvement. This phase involves taking practical and strategic measures to address the issues uncovered during the audit. By initiating effective corrective actions, organizations can rectify compliance gaps, enhance processes, and ensure a more compliant, transparent, and productive work environment.

To do this,

  • Prioritise and plan: Begin by prioritising the identified non-compliance issues or improvement areas based on their severity, potential impact, and relevance to organisational goals. Create a detailed plan that outlines specific actions, responsibilities, timelines, and resources required for each corrective measure.
  • Break down each corrective action into actionable steps: These steps should be tangible and achievable, providing a clear roadmap for implementation. Define key milestones and deliverables to track progress.
  • Establish accountability: Assign clear ownership for each corrective action. Designate individuals or teams responsible for executing the actions, monitoring progress, and ensuring the completion of tasks within the specified timeframes.
  • Allocate Resources: Allocate the necessary resources, including financial, technological, and human resources, required to carry out the corrective actions effectively. Adequate resources are essential for successful implementation.

It’s also important to maintain thorough documentation of the corrective actions undertaken, including details of changes made, timelines, and outcomes. This documentation not only serves as a record but also provides transparency for internal and external stakeholders.

By diligently implementing corrective actions, organisations demonstrate their commitment to addressing compliance gaps and fostering a culture of accountability and improvement. This proactive approach not only mitigates potential risks but also contributes to a more compliant, transparent, and ethical workplace that supports the organisation’s mission and values.

Importance of Regular Compliance Audits

Mitigating legal and reputational risks

A regular HR compliance audit plays a vital role in mitigating legal and reputational risks for businesses. By identifying compliance issues proactively, HR professionals can prevent costly legal battles and damage to the organisation’s reputation.

Ensuring adherence to applicable laws and regulations

HR plays a crucial role in staying ahead of laws and regulations that impact various aspects of an organisation. As mentioned, a regular HR audit ensures that a business’s practices are in alignment.

These key areas include:

  • Equal employment opportunity
  • Workplace safety
  • Data privacy

Adhering to legal compliance not only protects businesses but also fosters a positive and inclusive working environment.

Ethical Workplace Culture

Conducting audits demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to ethical practices. By proactively addressing areas of concern, businesses cultivate an environment where employees feel valued and supported, fostering a culture of integrity and fairness.

Improved Employee Relations

Audits help identify areas that affect employee satisfaction, such as harassment prevention, fair compensation, and equal opportunity. Addressing these issues fosters positive employee relations, increasing morale and engagement.

You may also be interested in: Why HR risk management is key to any successful business

Conclusion: How HR Software Can Help

HR teams are the driving force behind successful HR compliance audits, ensuring that companies are compliant with employment law, data and privacy regulations, and more. Steering through the complex landscape of HR audits is made smoother with XCD’s innovative HR software which helps HR professionals gain complete visibility over all aspects of an organisation’s human capital management. From powerful reporting and analytics features to time-saving automation and built-in compliance with GDPR and HMRC, our powerful solution makes compliance simple. To see our HR and payroll software in action, book a demo or get in touch with XCD today!