Spring cleaning is not only for households. For small business owners, springtime is a reminder to get things in order. As the weather grows warmer and the snow begins to melt, it's the time of year to clean up your office and make sure you're meeting all of your legal responsibilities. Like most small business owners, you're likely working hard to decipher how the new rules and regulations that were introduced earlier this year apply to you and your business. In the spirit of spring cleaning, take this opportunity to tie up your legal loose ends.
In 2014, small business owners said that they experienced growth, and 80 percent said they were feeling optimistic about the year ahead of them. Now that spring is here, how can you remain confident through summer and beyond? The first step is to make sure that you're prepared to stay compliant throughout the year. From new employee laws to keeping up with emerging trends, here are just a few regulations that you should know about to help you stay compliant in 2015:
1. Sick Days
Changing weather and blooming flowers can often equate to employees opting to stay home from their jobs to get well. Many employees do not have the luxury of sick days and often have to choose between taking a day off without pay, or bringing their spring cold into their office.
Earlier this year, President Obama called on Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, allowing millions of Americans the chance to earn up to seven sick days a year at their federal jobs. The passing of this bill encourages cities and states across the country to enact similar legislation. Small business owners should be familiar with sick leave laws in their state and make sure that they are compliant. Here's to lessening workplace sickness!
2. Contract-Worker or Full-Time Employee?
More companies are looking to hire workers as contractors, and more workers are looking to non-traditional schedules. Small businesses across the United States are reporting a rise in hiring contract employees over traditional, full-time employees. And, a recent millennial branding report found that 45 percent of millennials will choose workplace flexibility over a higher paycheck. Tax season is quickly approaching, and spring is the perfect time to ensure that you're classifying your employees accurately. Also, it's generally a good idea to make sure that your employees have agreed to and signed an independent contractor agreement or an employment contract.
3. Rideshare Insurance Coverage
Businesses across the country continue to adopt the concept of the sharing economy -- from ridesharing like Uber and Lyft, to AirBnb and Waze, there's no slowing down this new culture of sharing. While companies such as Lyft and Uber are concentrated in larger cities, other sharing economy companies, such as Waze and AirBnb, are used around the world. The rise of independent contractors participating in the sharing economy can be a great way to help provide much needed extra income for workers who may only have contract status, as well as provide small business owners the ability to gain a competitive edge. Small business owners should read the terms and conditions of these sharing economy resources prior to using them, and make sure to know about applicable laws and regulations in their area. If you live in New York or San Francisco, read about new ridesharing insurance laws and how they could impact you.
Complicated laws and changing regulations can be overwhelming and require a bit of work for business owners to make sure that they are legally compliant. While spring cleaning may only happen once a year, those who own a small business should keep up-to-date on legal regulations year-round.
Lisa Honey is the Director of Product Marketing for Rocket Lawyer's Legal Documents business line. She left the traditional practice of law after seven years in commercial and civil litigation to join Rocket Lawyer. She's licensed in California, Texas and Arkansas.
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