You have to follow many regulations as a small business owner--many of which apply to your employees. There are at least twenty state and federal laws applicable to small businesses that employ fifteen or fewer employees. With several of these regulations changing in 2015, you need to make sure you're in full compliance to avoid costly penalties.
Some of these new laws are in response to corruption scandals, some address civil and human rights, and others immigration concerns. While not all may apply to your specific business, you can be sure something in the new packages will impact your employees and how they are treated in the workplace.
Here are five regulation changes that will affect your small business this year:
1. Changes to the Minimum Wage
Many states and some municipalities have increased their minimum wage requirements for 2015. New York, for example, increased it to $8.75 per hour. San Francisco boosted the minimum wage to $11.05, and Arizona increased it to $8.05. It's important that you check with your state and major municipalities to see if there are mandatory minimum wage increases. If so, you will need to update your job postings and posters in addition to adjusting employee wages.
2. Mandatory Paid Sick Leave
Some states are going to require a mandatory paid sick leave program for businesses. There will be limitations on how many hours you're required to provide an employee (which is set by your state). California, for example, is giving businesses some time to adjust and not requiring the changes to mandatory paid sick leave until July 2015.
California requires all employers to provide paid sick leave to all employees who work at least thirty days in a year--whether temporary, part-time, or full-time--and the days do not need to be continuous. Accrual is one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty hours worked.
3. Harassment and Discrimination
Several states are adopting harassment and discrimination regulations for businesses. From hiring procedures to how you handle harassment complaints, you want to become familiar with changes to these important regulations. Some states require that businesses offer harassment prevention training and discrimination training.
Businesses must also look out for workplace violence regulations. The AB 2053 rule in California now requires training on workplace violence to be added to and included in the mandatory sexual harassment training for supervisors in businesses with fifty or more employees.
4. "Ban the Box" Law
The "Ban the Box" law restricts you from inquiring about an applicant's criminal background on a job application, and even throughout the entire hiring process. It requires you to remove the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record. Check your state's department of labor to see whether this regulation is applicable to your business.
5. FLSA Exemption Revisions
Although not yet finalized, the new FLSA exemption may nearly double the weekly salary threshold for exempt classifications. This will provide additional separation between higher minimum wage rates and the salaries for exempt-level employees. Changes to the exemption criteria may also include a requirement that a majority of an exempt employee's time must be spent performing exempt work.
Where to Find Your State's Regulations Each state has its own set of regulations that it will impose on small businesses in 2015. To find a list of regulations with which your business must comply, check:
- The Small Business Administration website
- The U.S. Department of Labor
- Your state's Chamber of Commerce website
- Your state's Labor Commission or Department of Labor
To learn more about how 2015 regulation changes will affect your small business, contact the human resources experts at MJ Management Solutions. We can assess your state's regulations, the impact they will have on your small business, and recommend solutions to keep your business compliant.
Margaret Jacoby, SPHR, is the founder and president of MJ Management Solutions,a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive. This article first appeared on the MJ Management Solutions blog.