Small Business Employment Issues - Free Enterprise
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Some are forced by local, state, or federal law, while others are forced to compete for the best talent, but most small businesses are upping their employee benefits packages, especially when it comes to offering family leave. Employers are offering more time off, more of it paid, and to more of their employees.

So if you're wondering whether expanding your family leave benefits is the right thing to do, or a legal thing you must do, you've come to the right place. Here's what you need to know about family leave and your small business:

Employees Increasingly Suing for Family Leave Discrimination, Study Finds

As an employer you know that you have to allow your employees family leave and you believe you are following all the applicable laws ... or at least you are doing your best. But you should really check that your policy does comply with the patchwork of laws that apply to this topic, lest you find yourself sued.

According to a study by the Center for Worklife Law at the University of California Hastings, lawsuits over family leave issues are on the rise. Employees win about half of these, a much higher proportion than other types of work discrimination cases, reports the Huffington Post. Here's what you need to know.

Managing the Rising Minimum Wage: 3 Tips for Small Businesses

In recent years, states and even some big cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles have been passing new mandatory minimum wage laws that will be phased in over time. These gradual pay hikes are meant to protect workers, of course, and minimize the strain on employers accommodating the wage increase.

But for small businesses operating on tight margins, even a small mandatory increase spread across all employees can be painful. A raise to workers means increased payroll taxes and potentially other added expenses to the extent your employees receive benefits. Let's consider a few suggestions from Forbes on how to manage a minimum wage increase.

As an employer, you have many responsibilities with respect to workers and employees. You must pay certain taxes and contribute to various state and federal programs, and you must verify the employment authorization of each worker.

In the words of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Employers have certain responsibilities under immigration law during the hiring process." So let's look at your obligations and the penalties you face if you fail to fulfill your duty to the federal government.

Ah summer -- the time when all your employees (and you) want to head to the beach, the lake, the river, the pool, the national park, the theme park, the park around the corner ... anywhere but the office. But there's no way your small business can survive a mass exodus this summer.

Balancing your company's needs with your employees' happiness can be a challenge. So here's how to let your staff play while making sure the work gets done, and making it all legal.

In almost every employment scenario, you don't need a reason to fire an employee. Most employment arrangements are "at-will," meaning the employee is free to leave and the employer is free to fire, with or without a reason.

But while you don't need a reason to terminate an employee, you're also not allowed to use a bad reason. So if you're going to fire someone because of something they did, here are some legally justifiable reasons you can use and one that you'll want to avoid at all costs:

Schoolyard bullies grow up, graduate, and get jobs. And sometimes their bullying doesn't stop once they've left school. Harassment, stalking, and other forms of bullying need to be a concern for small business owners, especially now that their employees are often connected through social media as well as through a shared office.

So how do you create a corporate culture that prevents workplace bullying? And how do you deal with bullying incidents should they arise? Here are five pieces of advice, from our archives:

OSHA Phasing in New Injury Reporting Rules, Starting Now

As an employer, you are obligated to report workplace injuries to federal labor safety agencies. Now the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is hoping to make disclosure easier for workers and their employers with a new set of rules.

The rules outline new injury reporting obligations and provide protection for those who disclose, ensuring that reporting won't result in retaliation. Here's what you need to know.

Hiring Employees for an Online Store

You started an online shop, which is doing great, and now you want to hire help. The issues you face are similar to any other employer. You need something done and you need someone to do it.

But considerations may be slightly different than in a brick-and-mortar business, as the skills you'll require are likely to be distinct. For one thing, you need someone who is comfortable with technology while traditional sales skills, like making conversation, may be unnecessary. Let's consider some other important issues.

Legal Ways to Save by Hiring Your Kids

The kids are out of school, hanging around, and you want to put them to work. You should. It's a good idea for many reasons. Hiring your kids has both long-term and short-term payoffs.

You can keep an eye on the tykes while presenting a solid work ethic and helping them learn to appreciate of the family business. The summer working together can teach you to communicate with your kids as mature adults, a skill you will need soon enough. They'll earn money, and you keep funds in the family. Plus, there are tax breaks!