Employment Law: List of Tips

Employment Law List of Tips for Small Employers & Businesses
Or How to Avoid an Employment Lawsuit

PART ONE OF TWO PART ARTICLE

Although many smaller employers may not think about it employment law affects your business because as employers you are held to most of the same duties and responsibilities as larger employers. There are numerous federal and state statutes that regulate and effect the employment relationship. Thus the employer/employee relationship creates a vast opportunity for controversy, disagreements and litigation. The area of employment law is so vast and books are written that address specific topics. This hot tips article is designed to give a very brief overview of issues that you as employers should be concerned with. The most important point to remember is that if you do not know the answer—-seek the advice of an experienced employment law attorney.

List of some of the Federal and State laws that may apply: (Note there are many more laws and regulations not addressed in this article)

1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
2. The Equal Pay Act of 1963;
3. The Age Discrimination of Employment Act of 1967;
4. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990;
5. Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973;
6. The Civil Rights Act of 1991;
7. Florida Civil Rights Act;
8. Family Medical Leave Act;
9. Fair Labor Standards Act

Although the threshold number of employees required for coverage varies with each act it is good employment practice to behave as if all the non-discrimination laws applied to you whether or not your business meets the threshold number. Good employment practice will help to avoid lawsuits and disgruntled employees. Below is a list of general guidelines in the employment process to follow.

1. Interview smart:
a. Have a solid understanding of the position that you are interviewing the applicant for
b. Know the questions to avoid in an interview
c. Ask only job-related questions
b. Be consistent among applicants
c. Use a guideline
d. Take good notes during interview

2. Get a release to check references of applicant:
a. Check references before hiring
b. Confirm education and dates
c. Confirm employment date, job titles, responsibilities, etc.
d. Confirm reasons for leaving, whether applicant is eligible for rehire and the applicant’s quality of work
e. Use a guideline
f. Document, document, document

3. What to include in job offer:
a. Rate of pay
b. Start date
c. Hours required to work
d. Benefits if any
e. Any contingencies
f. Avoid any wording that would imply a contract or imply that the position is permanent. Remember Florida is an employment at will state.

4. After the hire fulfill the requirements of the Immigration Reform and Control Act.

a. Employers are required to complete Form I-9‘s on all employees hired.  Generally must be completed within 3 days of hire.

5. Define the work week:
Is it Monday through Sunday; Sunday through Saturday. This is important for overtime calculation as well as threshold coverage under some of the employment statutes.
6. Holidays
If you offer holiday pay:
a. State what the paid holidays are
b. Have a written policy on how holidays are compensated.
c. If employees are sick the day before the holiday are they paid for the Holiday?
d. Be consistent in implementation.

7. Sick Time
If you give sick time:
a. How much is given each year?
b. How is it calculated?
c. Can it be carried over year to year?
d. How much can be accrued?
e. What happens upon termination?
f. Be consistent in implementation
g. Document, document, document

8. Vacation Time
If you give vacation:
a. Define how it is accrued
b. State how much time is given
c. State when is it earned
d. State what happens upon termination
f. Be consistent in implementation

9. Minimum Wage
Pay Federal minimum wage currently $7.25 an hour. Florida’s minimum wage is $8.05 hour effective January 1, 2015.

10. Pay employees for all hours worked.

11. Overtime
Pay overtime if employee not exempt

a. The fact that an employee “volunteers” to work overtime is immaterial. If the employer “suffered or permitted” the work to be performed, it must pay the wages.
b. Florida requires paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 hours in the defined workweek.

When in doubt seek the advice of an experienced employment law attorney.
Look for Part 2 next week. 

By Debora A. Diaz, Esq.
Disclaimer: The area of employment law is a broad array of common law, codes, regulations, and statutes. The purpose of this article is to get you thinking about Employment Law and how it impacts you as an employer. This article is not a dissertation on all the possible areas of employment law just some highlights of importance.