If you're a small business owner, you understand that there are many responsibilities and roles to juggle in order to keep your company afloat. You might be interviewing candidates for job openings, analyzing monthly financial reports, closing a big sale, communicating with vendors, and resolving client issues all in one day.
In the midst of daily responsibilities, it can be easy for key areas to be overlooked, specifically in the areas of safety and employee management. In today's Aegis post, we address the question of staying in compliance with state and federal labor laws by focusing on three areas that can easily be overlooked by busy businesses and their owners.
Complying With FMLA Laws
The federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires businesses with 50 or more workers to provide eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. Qualifying reasons include employee injury or illness, the birth or adoption of a child, or caring for a sick spouse, child, or parent. Covered employees are supposed to be able to take up to 12 weeks of leave with the expectation that their job (or one equivalent to their position) will be waiting for them when they return.
In the chaos of an average workday, company managers might fail to submit proper FMLA paperwork, or an untrained supervisor might deny the time off without realizing it qualifies as FMLA leave. Businesses that qualify for FLMA compliance but fail to provide time off or protect the employee's position can face stiff penalties and fines, including having to pay the employee all their missed wages plus interest.
Paying All Wages Owed
Another way businesses can end up facing compliance issues is by not paying employees all their wages owed. Whether employees are salaried or hourly workers clocking into a time system, employees should expect to receive all wages due on their scheduled payday. Unfortunately, wage issues tend to be more prevalent in the restaurant and retail industries because of the high number of hourly workers employed and their often-hectic work environments.
Companies can run into issues when they fail to correctly classify workers as exempt or non-exempt (which determines their eligibility for overtime pay), if they fail to pay overtime at all, or if wages are late, withheld, or paid incorrectly. In addition, employers can face severe penalties and grievances if they fail to pay the federal or state minimum wage, as well as potential lawsuits from angry employees.
Providing A Safe Work Environment
Finally, companies should always ensure they are providing a safe work environment for all employees. The existence of unsafe work conditions can result in an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which can result in penalties as high as $70,000 and daily fines of $7,000 until violations or hazards are corrected. This can be a challenge for industries with higher injury rates, such as general contractors, restaurant workers, retail employees, landscapers, and auto repair businesses.
Regardless of your company's size or industry, there should always be an intentional effort to remain in compliance with all state and federal labor laws. Not only does it help protect employees and the company's financial health, it can also help promote the company as a reputable, safe, and honest place to work.
Another way businesses can be protected is through reliable, comprehensive Commercial Insurance coverage by Aegis Insurance & Financial Services. Specifically, your company can benefit from having the protection that comes with Employers Professional Liability Insurance (EPLI) as well as Workers Compensation Insurance. Our team of Commercial Insurance experts can help your company get quality coverage tailored to your specific industry and business needs. Contact Aegis at 713-850-7622 for more information, or fill out our online form for a free quote!