Regardless of whether your business is a startup or long established in the community, or if it’s a sole proprietorship or a multinational corporation, there are federal business laws that you must follow. Not every federal business law applies to every business, however. Knowing which laws apply to you and your business will prevent you from enduring the stress and frustration of wasting money and time paying penalties and correcting any issues. Two basic, but critical areas of federal business law are the requirement of nearly every business to post specific notices, and the laws regarding workplace safety.
Beginning with the basics, federal law requires most businesses to prominently display certain official notices in common areas of the workplace, such as break rooms or kitchens. Ranging from OSHA notices to posters regarding minimum wage, the posting requirements vary from business to business. If you are unsure about which notices your business is required by law to post, consult the United States Department of Labor (DOL) FirstStep Poster Advisor. Some states also require additional notices, so check with your state’s labor department if you aren’t sure about local requirements.
Workplace Safety Laws
Focusing on the safety of your employees protects them, but it also protects you from lawsuits and government penalties for breaking the law, as well as violating OSHA standards. All businesses are required to adhere to federal safety laws, and the best and most convenient place to start is on OSHA’s Compliance Assistance webpage. The site is not comprehensive, as your business may need to meet additional requirements. But, it does offer guidance for every industry, including construction, health care, and general industries (retail, wholesale, manufacturing). It even offers assistance for employers who have a predominantly Spanish-speaking workforce.
In order to be certain that your business is in full compliance with federal safety laws, OSHA also offers a free on-site consultation program designed for small and medium-sized businesses. According to their website, in 2013, this OSHA program conducted about 30,000 workplace assessments.
In addition to federal workplace safety laws, each state may have its own set of additional requirements. Contact your state for further information, and to ensure that your business is also in compliance with state safety laws, should they be more stringent than those prescribed by the federal government.
Federal business laws can be complex and confusing given that not every law applies to every business. However, there are areas of law that every business must adhere to, regardless of size, as evidenced by the examples of the laws related to workplace safety and the requirement to post important notices. The question you need to answer is ‘which of those laws pertain to my specific business?’
If you are uncertain about which federal business laws may apply to you, complete the U.S. Department of Labor’s FirstStep Employment Law Advisor survey for clarity. While it doesn’t cover every federal business law, it does cover the major Department of Labor laws. If you have further questions, contact the Department of Labor. By ensuring that you and your business are in compliance with federal business laws you will avoid wasting time and money tangling with the government, and instead use those resources toward something more useful – growing your business.