7 Things Every Business Owner Should Know About Employment Law

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Starting a new business is so much more than drawing a plan, designing and manufacturing merchandise, and creating marketing strategies. Yes, these are crucial, but unless it will be a one-person company, there is a more important thing you have to consider. That’s right. We are talking about the people who will work with you.

Finding and hiring experienced employees should not be too difficult. However, there are certain working conditions you need to provide them with, and they also have numerous rights you need to respect. Not all business owners are familiar with the employment law, which is why we will tell you some of the most important things you need to know.

1. The environment

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Even before interviewing potential employees, the very first thing you have to do is create the appropriate work environment. When looking for office space, you need to ensure it meets all the standards. Yes, it needs to accommodate your team and the equipment you use, but it also needs to have bathrooms, a break room with some essential appliances, a ventilation system, a fire escape, heating or cooling devices, depending on the climate. In addition, you are required to make the appropriate changes, if necessary, to accommodate employees with disabilities. Finally, you should also hire a cleaning service to maintain the premises, ensure that the hygiene is at the highest level, and make the office a comfortable space to work.

2. Have written contracts

By now, this should be an obvious requirement one needs to meet. Yes, technically speaking, a person’s employment starts the moment they accept the job, but nonetheless, you need to have a contract written and signed by both parties. You are required by the law to draw and sign this document within two months. Besides this, this agreement will enable your new employee to understand job requirements, if there are any company rules they need to follow, and it will also allow you, as a business owner, to solve misunderstands and problems in the future since you will have everything clearly written down. If you are just about to launch your business, you have probably never composed this document, which is why you should consult a professional beforehand, like Levitt LLP, and ask them to help you through this process.

3. Discrimination

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Unfortunately, discrimination is the most common problem nowadays. There are so many types of it, which is why there are numerous laws, such as ADEA, EPA, GINA, ADA, etc., that regulate this occurrence and prevent it from happening in the first place. At the same time, there are numerous things an employer can do to discriminate against people. For example, you cannot ask about a person’s nationality, sexual orientation, or even disabilities. The last one may seem odd since you have to adjust the workspace to accommodate their needs, but instead of asking them directly about it, you should rephrase the question.

4. Maternity leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA regulates medical and maternity leave. According to it, you need to ensure that the person has 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. It also goes without saying that you cannot demote or fire them during this time or even simply because they are asking for it, that is, informing you they will take time off. In addition, the same rule applies if they suffer from a severe or life-treating disease or if they have to take care of a family member. At the same time, an employee must meet specific requirements to get this leave. For example, the most common one is that they need to be with the company for at least a year. This is another reason why official, written contracts are crucial. Since this information is included, a person will know their rights, and you will know your obligations toward them.

5. Equal pay act

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You need to reinforce this act, and it states that men and women within the same company must receive equal pay. We are not only talking about the salary, but also bonuses, insurance, vacation, sick leave, overtime pay, etc. According to this law, the job title doesn’t play any role, but instead, the responsibilities that come with it determine whether two positions should be paid equally. Obviously, this is another form of discrimination, and you can get sued for it.

6. Demoting and firing people

Naturally, you can demote and even fire people if they do not do their job right or if you believe they are not the best fit for your business. Also, if they violate any of the company rules, you can suspend them, and in some cases, this can be something you must do. However, this is another aspect of the business you need to be careful about because the employment law dictates specific regulations. It is common sense to inform people about the reason behind your decision, but you are not required to do this unless you stated it in the contract you signed with them.

Nevertheless, keep in mind that there are specific things you cannot use as a reason to fire someone. Naturally, we are talking about their age, nationality, race, religion, disability, etc. In addition, you cannot retaliate if they filed a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against your company. Also, there is another thing business owners don’t know. Employees can miss work if they get a call for jury duty.

7. Sexual harassment

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This is another serious issue people face in today’s business work. Generally speaking, women are usually affected by it, but that doesn’t mean men cannot file the same complaint. Several things can be observed as sexual harassment, everything from sexual comments and jokes to inappropriate touching. These actions can be performed by anyone in your company, from other employees to team leaders, supervisors, managers, and even clients. If these actions create a hostile environment, they can sue you, and they will probably win since there is a zero-tolerance policy nowadays when it comes to these things. What’s more, you should prevent this issue from happening, which you can do it by educating and informing people about the company’s sexual harassment policy and enforcing the regulations every time you have to.

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