Small-business owners face a lot of challenges when it comes to meeting all the requirements for employees. In some cases, there is no one on the staff who specializes in human resources issues, which can mean leaders don’t have the knowledge they need to follow legal rules. Here are some of the many topics that owners might need to seek help with, either from an attorney or from a government agency.
Where to Start
Whether a small business includes two employees or 20, there may be several rules that employers must follow for legal compliance. A good place to start is to do online research to find all the federal and state restrictions for proper employment law. There might be a small business development center that is a good place to seek compliance information as well. An employment attorney could be necessary if there are problematic situations, but one might not be necessary right away. Basically, owners must take the time to get organized in regards to legal requirements, no matter which educational resources they find.
Once an owner has a good feel for the major legal regulations, he or she needs to create an employee handbook that establishes policies for the company. Not only should the handbook cover discrimination, compensation and other employment considerations, it should also be read and signed by all employees. This is one situation in which an owner might want to have an attorney look at the handbook before it is made official.
It’s important to note that potential employees must be treated fairly and equally in the same way that official employees are. Although the rules listed in the employee handbook don’t apply to job candidates, employers still have to follow anti-discrimination rules during the hiring process. A company should have in-house rules for job descriptions, interviews and pre-employment tests. Some rules must be followed when it comes to adding minors, contractors or part-time employees to the workplace. Small-business owners may need to seek help with compliance when establishing policies for their hiring process in general.
The list of laws an employer needs to know is quite extensive and covers a variety of topics. Here are some of the facets that will come up for small businesses:
- Wages and benefits: This may include health insurance and hourly pay.
- Workplace privacy both in the office and online: This can include Internet use, HIPAA compliance and employee surveillance.
- Laws to govern employee leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Safety in the workplace: This may include hazardous chemicals or OSHA compliance.
- Best practices for managing employees
- Rules governing employee termination, such as those concerning legal issues surrounding firing workers and severance pay
- Contract questions and related concerns, such as the different between contractors and employees
Each of these areas comprise a set of requirements that might need to be explained by business advisors or employment attorneys. When in doubt, a small-business owner should seek help from someone who specializes in these workplace topics.
Discrimination and Harassment
The most important issue for a small-business owner may be discrimination in the workplace. Rules that cover unjust treatment should be in effect during the hiring process and should remain throughout a worker’s employment. There are so many facets that fall under the definition of discrimination that owners need to be especially diligent in their compliance with federal and state laws. A small-business advisor can be extremely helpful when it comes to dealing with discrimination and harassment questions.
Small businesses may find it a struggle to meet all compliance requirements. With a small staff and a lot of laws to follow, the process can be a major challenge. However, there are resources available that can help along the way such as small-business development advisors, employment attorneys and online information.
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The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.