Small businesses are subject to a wide range of state and federal regulations, and it’s the responsibility of the business owner to know those regulations and be in compliance with them. But when people start a business because they have an idea for a service they want to provide or a product they want to make, they may not even be aware of all the regulations that impact their business.
Here’s a brief overview of some of the key regulatory agencies and what they cover.
Department of Labor (DOL)
If you have employees, you need to be aware of Department of Labor regulations. This federal department oversees occupational safety, wage standards, unemployment, and much more. Their goal is to promote the wellbeing of employees, job seekers, and retirees in the United States, and they have responsibility for more than 180 federal laws and thousands of federal regulations to accomplish that goal.
Department of Labor regulations include things like hourly versus salaried employees, overtime, worker’s compensation, safety regulations, etc. In other words, a lot of things that directly impact businesses of all sizes. Violating any of these regulations can leave your company at significant risk for both fines and lawsuits, so compliance is critical.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The EEOC was created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), and it covers enforcement of federal laws related to discrimination. That includes discrimination based on the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.
The laws enforced by the EEOC include discriminatory practices in promotions, training, wages, benefits, harassment, and termination of employment. As with Department of Labor regulations, if you have employees of any kind, it’s critical that you’re aware of and in compliance with these regulations.
Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA is part of the Department of Labor, and it focuses specifically on creating safe and healthy working conditions for all employees. OSHA regulations include things like providing safety training, informing workers about chemical or physical hazards in the workplace, providing necessary safety equipment, and much more. They also enforce some whistleblower regulations.
The regulations cover most employees in the private sector and some employees in the public sector. While every industry is subject to OSHA guidelines, some require a higher degree of awareness and compliance due to the nature of the work involved. That includes industries like manufacturing or other physical labor employment where the risk of injury is higher than a standard office job.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Most of us are pretty familiar with the IRS at least on a personal level, but it’s important to note that there are plenty of IRS regulations that apply to businesses as well, both in terms of your business expenses and taxes and how you pay your employees. One of them is the 20-question test to determine if someone is an employee or an independent contractor, which we will cover in more detail in our next blog. While we don’t provide direct payroll services at Why HR, we do want to ensure our clients stay in compliance with IRS regulations related to their business.
Violating any of the regulations administered by these agencies can result in fines or lawsuits against you as an employer. Failure to follow these guidelines can also put your employees at risk of injury from workplace hazards or subject them to a hostile work environment. To create a safe work environment and protect your company, it’s in everyone’s best interest to understand and follow these regulations.
If you need help understanding the regulations that apply to your business and how it should affect your policies and practices, contact Why HR for a consultation today.