Don’t be scared, but there are a ton of employment laws out there. They cover everything from discrimination to unions and a whole lot in between.
And even though you might not have legal training or a human resources department, you are going to have to follow some of them when you venture out into the entrepreneurial world.
Which laws are going to apply to your business depends in great part on how small your business is and the state in which you are operating (yes, there are state, and even municipal, laws you must follow along with the federal laws).
For example, Title VII is the federal law that says you cannot discriminate against an employee because of their race, gender, religion, national origin, or color. It, however, only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
California, on the other hand, has a law that applies to employers of five or more employees, as well as expands the groups of people who cannot be discriminated against.
While spelling out in one post every potential law that might apply to you no matter your size and location would make this a novel of War and Peace length and substance, there are some big laws that you will likely have to follow no matter the size of your business venture.
1. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)
So you’re finally ready to make your first hire. Congratulations! Now what?
Is this potential new worker authorized to work in the US? What all do you have to do to check? What do you have to do to prove you did everything you were supposed to do?
To find out, take a look at IRCA and its Form I-9 requirements.
It states what you have to do and how to do it.
2. The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act
For the most part, if you hire one person, you are going to be ruled by the OSH Act and OSHA, the agency that runs this law.
What does this mean for you? Keep your employees healthy and safe. The OSH Act requires you to do, or refrain from doing, many different things depending on what type of business you are running, but its overall purpose is to make sure that you are keeping your employees alive and in good health.
3. Workers’ Compensation
So, this is really a lot of state laws, but since employers in almost every state fall under these laws, one is almost definitely going to apply to you.And if it does, you are going to need workers’ compensation insurance. (Texas is the exception to the rule here).
Say that, despite your best efforts and your dedication to following all of OSHA’s laws (see the second law discussed), your new hire falls and is injured.
Whether this accident was a result of your negligence or not, you are going to give them some workers’ compensation.
Don’t worry; this is actually fairer to you than you may think on first glance.
Yes, you, with absolutely no fault in the accident, are going to have to pay. However, except for the rarest of occasions, that same employee will not be able to sue you even if the accident was the result of your negligence.
4. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Do you know what all employees agree on? They want to get paid! (…And most of them probably don’t want to work 168 hours a week, either.)
While the FLSA regulates more than just these two concerns, minimum wage and overtime do both fall under this act.
How much you can expect your employee to work and how much you are legally required to pay them are both dictated by this federal law (though individual states can create rules that help out the employees even more).
So, when you are setting schedules and handing out paychecks, familiarize yourself with this law to avoid having to pay a lot more in court later.
You know how nothing is certain except for death and taxes? Well, it holds true in business ownership as well.
For federal taxes, you are going to need to get a federal employer identification number (EIN); you are going to need to withhold the right amount of wages from your employees’ paychecks; and you are going to need to report what you withheld.
And, as taxes never seem to be easy, there are a whole lot of other regulations, plus state and local requirements to boot. Fun!
While there are many other employment laws you may have to follow, these are some that you will definitely need to know.
This article was a joint collaboration between UK-based technology writer Matt Rawlings, and Ashley Shaw – a Legal Editor at XpertHR US, an online service that helps employers and HR departments comply with employment laws on the federal, state and local level. Through her legal background and researching history, Ashley helps HR professionals and business owners follow and understand all the laws that apply to them.
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