Some of the most critical responsibilities for any business owner fall under human resources. Employee relations can be a big challenge for business owners and potentially lead to a host of legal nightmares.
The rules and regulations governing employers are typically complex and can vary from state to state. Still, the legal problems encountered by most business owners tend to fit into one of five categories, according to this article by J.D. Harrison for The Washington Post On Small Business. To minimize headaches and keep your company running smoothly, avoid these common HR mistakes:
- Worker misclassification: Employee or independent contractor? It can be tricky to make the distinction. Employers who improperly classify workers can run into serious penalties with regards to taxes, withholdings and overtime wages.
- Overtime pay problems: Overtime pay rules vary greatly from state-to-state. In California, for instance, employees must receive overtime pay not only when they work more than 40 hours per week, but also when they work more than eight hours per day. However, most states set their limits solely on a weekly basis.
- Break mistakes: Be sure your employees are taking their proper breaks, so they cannot later claim they were forced to work through them. If your workers are tempted to work during their break times, consider creating break rooms where no work is allowed or requiring employees to leave the premises for their entire break.
- Firing foul-ups: You must have a firing process and you must follow that process equally for all employees.
- Discrimination and harassment unpreparedness: Harassment problems can spring up in just about any workplace, and it's vital that business owners prepare for such situations before they happen, not afterward.
You can read the complete article here.
Wouldn't it be great to have a go-to list of resources to provide answers to common HR questions? Try these seven resources, courtesy of this article by Sharlyn Lauby for the OPEN Forum:
- Blogs like Ask a Manager and Evil HR Lady
- The Department of Labor website
- G.Neil - a one-stop HR supply shop for your small business.
- Monster.com - for job candidates and specialized community forums
- Newsletters from SmartBrief
- The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
- Your local Chamber of Commerce
Have you dealt with any HR nightmares in your company? Feel free to post your story in our comments below.