Owning and operating your own small business is no easy task. There are a lot of things you will need to consider, and laws and guidelines you’ll need to follow. If you don’t understand these laws and fail to implement them properly, you could be putting yourself at risk for legal battles. The best way for your business to avoid costly employment lawsuits is ensuring that you are familiar with the most recent employment law changes.
Below we have compiled a list of new laws all business owners should be aware of.
Marijuana Use by Employees
While the federal government has not legalized recreational marijuana, many states and local jurisdictions continue passing legislation that addresses decriminalization of marijuana, recognition of medical marijuana use, and legalization of recreational marijuana. Currently 37 states permit medical use of cannabis products, and 19 states, Washington D.C, and Guam permit recreational use of marijuana. The laws in some of these states prohibit employers from taking adverse action against an employee for using medical and recreational marijuana, so what does this mean for your business?
Regarding recreational marijuana, you can still prohibit employees from being under the influence while working. With medical marijuana, you must determine if accommodation for employees requiring medicating during work hours is provided. Your company should review its substance abuse policy ensuring it complies with your state and local laws.
Although the paid leave requirements of the federal government’s covid relief legislation has ended, many states, counties, and cities enacted their own paid leave laws. Given that these laws can vary from state to state and city to city, it is important that you review your businesses paid and unpaid leave policies.
Some states have enacted legislation that prohibits a prospective employer from inquiring about a candidate’s salary history and requiring pay equity. We recommend that you review the salaries and benefits provided to all your employees confirming there is consistency within each employee group.
The U.S. Department of Labor recently withdrew the “independent contractor rule.” This means that the number of workers once considered independent contractors are now classified as employees. As employees they are entitled to workers’ rights such as minimum wage and overtime compensation protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Additionally, some states have made the misclassification of an employee a crime. Businesses are required to comply with multiple federal laws, state laws, and agency guidance when determining worker status, applying wage and hour and tax laws, and eligibility for fringe benefits. Failure to pay a minimal amount of overtime can result in your business being responsible for the back wages, a penalty, treble damages, and attorney fees.