Just as Congress was leaving town for the Thanksgiving holiday, various federal agencies released their mandated Fall 2014 Regulatory Plans and Unified Agendas on Friday, Nov. 21 — beating winter by a month. The reports are issued twice a year.

The most ambitious agency, the Department of Labor (DOL), plans to issue 23 final rules and 38 proposed rules through the end of 2015. The quickest on the agenda are a rewriting of overtime rules to make fewer employees exempt and also a redefinition of “spouse” for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) purposes. These are slated for the first quarter of calendar 2015.

By next August, the DOL says it will have a revamped injury and illness reporting rule released to “enable a more efficient and timely collection of data.” In the same time-frame, the agency says it will issue various final rules covering the 22 separate whistleblower statutes it oversees.

Even further into the future, in 2016 and beyond, the DOL is eyeing a revision of the Hazard Communication Standard to incorporate the sixth edition of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (generally referred to as GHS) and also hopes to implement a mandatory Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) for American businesses.

Perhaps the most immediate rule to come out of D.C. will be the National Labor Relations Board’s “quickie election rule” for union organization. Long in the works, the rule finds itself in an urgent mode since the Republicans take over the Senate in 2015 and Democratic board member Nancy Schiffer’s term expires this Dec. 16.

If you own or operate a small to medium-sized business, managing all your employees plus meeting federal labor laws and regulations can be daunting, especially with new rules being issued all the time. To help you understand your rights and responsibilities in every facet of running a business, please order a copy of Personnel Concepts’ All-On-One HR Compliance Program for Small Businesses.