You’re concentrating on your product or service, and on your customers. Great, but a lot of small businesses get ambushed because they overlooked another key part of the operation …
… their employees. You’re probably treating them fairly and maybe even know all of them on a first-name basis. In an expanding business, however, you have to keep on top of your legal requirements and protect yourself against surprise complaints and lawsuits.
To meet those requirements:
- Review and enforce employment policies. As your company grows, or as time goes on, no one thinks to implement policies. This is almost always a mistake. Not every company needs a lengthy set of guidelines, but all companies should have at least a few policies stated in a brief handbook. What’s most important: Policies aimed at the prevention of harassment and discrimination, setting out the operating hours and payroll practices, and vacation and sick leave policies.
- Check posting requirements. Make sure your company is complying with the poster requirements under federal, state and local laws. Employers are required to post documents setting out the minimum wage, OSHA information, family and medical leave, among other topics. And make sure that you’re providing your employees with any pamphlets, brochures or other information required by law, and that you are keeping records to confirm this.
- Provide training. You may be required to train your managers and supervisors on preventing and responding to harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. For example, California companies with 50 or more employees or independent contractors are required to provide 2 hours of training on sexual harassment to their supervisors at least once every two years (and within 6 months of promotion or hire), and training is a good idea for all employers, everywhere.
- Hire an HR person. Consider hiring someone specifically to perform human resources duties, even if it’s on a part-time basis. Alternatively, send the employee who will perform these duties to training on human resources and employment issues. A few seminars certainly won’t make someone an expert, but will help him or her recognize potential problems before they become full-fledged disasters.