As an employer, you have so many balls to keep in the air. Under these circumstances, it is understandable that staying on top of employment law becomes subservient to just trying to retain employees and keep their job satisfaction high. But employers run the risk of opening themselves up for litigation or actually inadvertently breaking state or federal laws when they behave in an ill-advised way, without proper advice from more knowledgeable experts on employment law.
In that spirit, we have a few recommendations of typical sticky wickets in the employment law world:
- Don’t misclassify employees. Be sure that you truly understand the difference between an employee and an independent contractor. The IRS has a 20 factor test that should be considered in each situation before a classification is made. Failure to understand this can result in all sorts of headaches: worker’s compensation claims, lawsuits regarding pay and benefits and more.
- Flexible Hours vs. Overtime. Although federal law governs payment of overtime, each state has its own interpretation of overtime laws that needs to be consulted as well. Therefore, employers should be mindful of how the state defines “work week” and also whether there is a daily standard. In your desire to offer flexible work hours, you may be entering unlawful territory. Flexibility has to bow to state regulations.
- Understand the rules on paid travel. If your employee travels at your behest, be sure you understand which part of their travel time is paid. This is a complicated analysis so it is best to consult your attorney.
- Don’t assume that everybody understands how to behave appropriately at work. You may run a family business where it feels like family or you may be a growing enterprise. In either situation, you should not be laissez faire about training both supervisors and workers on workplace harassment prevention. Be sure that everybody has read and signed your workplace harassment policies and are regularly receiving updated training and messages about this. Some states even require in-services on harassment and discrimination.
This is just a beginning list of common pitfalls in employment law. You should consult a specialist in employment law for counsel on the many complexities of running a small, medium or large sized business.