A note about Federal Employment Law: Employment law changes from year to year. However, the exam content outlines are only updated every five to seven years or so.
The Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) tells us that exam candidates are responsible for knowing the HR laws that are in place at the time of their exam. For this reason, regardless of the exam prep resource you use, you may need some additional research to ensure your knowledge of best legal practices is up-to-date. Final note: The exam includes questions related to federal laws and regulations, not state laws.
PHRPHR test questions are designed for the operational practitioner of human resources. The exam goes beyond the foundations of an entry-level performer and bumps right up against the strategic skills required of their human resource bosses. While the functional area titles of the PHR and SPHR exams are similar, the content weight and focus are different.
Functional area 01—Business ManagementSecond only to functional area 05 in exam content, Business Management makes up 20 percent of PHR exam questions. The focus is heavily weighted toward executing HR activities in alignment with the business, such as industry best practices, the company mission and vision, as well as taking care to avoid litigation related to employment law violations.
Functional area 02—Talent Planning and AcquisitionAt 16 percent, the Talent Planning and Acquisition area of the PHR should not give you (too much) trouble. Take care to study concepts such as federal labor law and its impact on hiring practices; creative candidate sourcing techniques; and the cycle of acquiring talent within the organization, from recruitment to negotiating employment offers.
Functional area 03—Learning and DevelopmentLearning & Development (L & D) has evolved from a strict focus on training design and delivery. In today’s world, it relates to a generalist’s ability to advise managers and team members on professional growth, career plans and replacement planning efforts that support business strategies. At only 10 percent of the exam content, focus on how L & D supports the larger scope of the Business Management and Talent Planning and Acquisition functional areas.
Functional area 04—Total RewardsImplementing and managing total rewards programs provides 15 percent of the PHR exam content. It starts with the critical function of managing employee payroll, and rounds out with the ability to understand and administer effective employee benefit programs.
Functional area 05—Employee Relations and EngagementHRCI saved the most comprehensive section of the PHR exam for last. This section deals with matters related to HR functions throughout the employee life cycle and collecting/interpreting data related to employee engagement levels at each stage. It makes up a whopping 39 percent of the total exam, so PHR hopefuls must pay particular attention.
Federal requirements related to diversity, inclusion, health and safety, employee policies, discipline, and separations are all measured here in the functional area of Employee and Labor Relations. You will find content related to employee performance management migrated to this section from previous versions.