What Are Employment Laws?
For most small businesses and entrepreneurs, the time soon comes when it is time to look for someone to help! Usually this occurs when the business is reaching a level of growth where the founder or owner needs another set of hands to handle the workflow and help push the business to the next level.
Too often there is a rush to simply get the help as soon as possible without taking the time to set up the proper infrastructure to support a new hire. Skipping steps can lead to costly mistakes down the road. Below are our top 5 Tips for small businesses, creative service providers, and entrepreneurs.
Employee Classifications Explained?
Independent contractor vs. Employee?
Exempt vs. Non-Exempt?
At Will Employee vs. Contractual Employee?
These are some of the main types of classifications for your worker, and each one has different legal consequences. For example, many employers rush to get someone to help them and are enticed by the cost savings that comes with an independent contractor. However, the distinction between an independent contractor and an employee is a big one that can get employers into trouble if they choose the wrong category. Improperly designating an employee as an independent contractor could create liability for back wages for overtime, break periods, and even fines for each individual violation.
Before you go out to get that person on to help, take some time to consider the role they will be playing in your business and speak to an attorney about how the person should be treated. It is always best to err on the side of caution when classifying your employees. So take the time to do it right!
How to Properly Onboard New Employees
Proper on-boarding will protect your from a great deal of liability in the future. Before you hire someone, take the time to put together a job description for their role, and when it comes time to bring them on, put together a formal offer letter. These documents, while they seem informal, will set clear expectations of what is expected from the employee and what is expected from the employer. The goal here is to make sure even at will employees have guidelines as to what is expected of them in the event of termination.
If your worker is going to be a contractual employee or independent contractor, take the time to put your agreement in writing. This will prevent confusion about what services are being provided and what the payment terms are. It helps give both parties the peace of mind to know how to navigate the working relationship.
It’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney to make sure you cover your bases.
What is an Employee Handbook?
Employee handbooks are routinely overlooked when running a business with employees. However, these documents can be extremely valuable to set forth the companies policies, procedures, and expectations. In particular, disciplinary policies can be set out in the handbook. This allows both employer and employee to know what to expect when things go wrong. It is a guideline on how to handle a situation where an employee is not living up to expectations, and also gives employees an idea of what steps an employer should be following.
What is Off-boarding?
As you would expect it, taking some time to manage a termination or a resignation can save you a lot in the future. For example, while employers in California are not required to offer a severance package, using severance pay as a way to ensure employees release any claims against the business is one way to protect against liability.
No matter what the reason for an employee to exit a business, it is important to make sure that the transition is well documented and is supported by the employees file. It is definitely a good idea to talk to an attorney before letting someone go. An ounce of measure is equal to a pound of cure!
Changing Employment Laws
Finally, as with most legal issues, California and Federal law is frequently changing and shifting to keep up with trends in the workplace. This means that what was established one year, for example, minimum wage, might be completely different the next. Also, San Diego as a city has its own requirements that have to be considered, so it is always best to consult with an attorney that is familiar with your community, both locally and on a larger scale.
Contact our San Diego legal team at Slate Law to discuss more about employment laws.