Laws Small Business Owners Should Know About
Business laws have multiplied over the years and as a small business owner, you might feel overwhelmed because there are so many. Which laws take priority for your small business?
Large companies have HR departments to tackle legal requirements, but smaller companies do not share this advantage.
Business News Daily addresses this concern and points out four primary laws that should concern small business owners the most:
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA and employee leaves from work)
Any private sector employer who has 50 or more employees must provide eligible workers up to 12 weeks of family medical leave during a 12-month period. This means that the employee's job is protected during the leave from work. Certain family and medical situations make a worker eligible to receive the leave. By law, the employer cannot prevent deny or interfere with the right to this leave.
However, a close examination of the reasons an employee gives for requesting the leave can prevent abuse of the FMLA. Employers can require that employees fill out a request form and provide mandatory medical certifications to ensure the employee qualifies for the leave.
Although you may not employ unionized workers, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), workers have the right to unionize, collectively bargain and take part in activities that are for their "mutual aid and protection” (NLRA). They are allowed to discuss wages and other terms or conditions of their employment with each other.
Your policies that restrict what employees can post on social media must not interfere with employees' NLRA rights. It's a good idea to consult with an employment lawyer to make sure your policies do not get you into trouble.
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP and affirmation action requirements)
In 2014, affirmative action requirements went into effect for certain federal contractors and subcontractors. The requirements included recordkeeping, data tracking and hiring targets. Contractors with 100 or fewer employees must strive to hire qualified individuals with disabilities as 7 percent of their workforce. Benchmarks also exist for hiring veterans.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Employee Misclassification
You must ensure that your independent contractors do not fall under what the federal government considers employees. The IRS and Department of Labor target businesses that misclassify workers, and the IRS had a 20-factor test it uses to determine a worker's status. It is vital that your independent contractors pass this test. If the government decides the worker is an employee and not an independent contractor, you could end up owing the worker exorbitant amounts of money for unpaid overtime work.
If you have questions, consult with our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates. We are glad to offer legal advice and can provide legal representation for disputed employment issues.