Employment laws can be difficult to memorize. In fact, there’s a good chance your business is breaking the law without your knowledge! To avoid this issue, it’s best to take inventory of some things you might be doing in your business. Below are five common ways that businesses break the law.
Overtime Payment Exemption
When you look at your employees, you might think you can make the choice as to who gets overtime and who does not. You might, for example, make the rule that anyone on salary can’t get overtime. While this is a common rule followed by many business owners, the truth is that only the federal government gets to decide who is exempt from overtime.
Not Paying for Short Breaks
While you don’t have to pay for a lunch break, you do have to pay your employees when they take their short daily breaks. Depending on the state, your employees may be entitled to one or more short, five- to twenty-minute breaks during the day and these breaks absolutely must be paid. Remember, these breaks aren’t taken out of their cumulative time worked and thus must be compensated for.
Many employers hire independent contractors to take care of short-term and specialized jobs. While there’s nothing wrong with this, there’s a huge problem if you treat these people like regular employees. If you think you need to hire someone on as a contractor, it’s almost always a good idea to talk to a lawyer to make sure you are actually using them in that position.
Holding Final Paychecks
It’s fairly common to require an employee to bring in work materials to get their final paycheck. While this is a good way to get your property back, it’s still illegal. You can’t put any conditions on your employees’ receipt of their checks. If they want the check at the normal time, you really can’t do anything about it.
Allowing Employees to Work Off the Clock
Sometimes, you have a great relationship with your employees. They want the business to succeed just as much as you do. They might come in and see that you’re swamped and jump behind the counter to help. While this can be a great gesture, it’s also illegal. If your employees are working, you have to pay them. That means employees need to leave the building when they’re done for the day, and any employee who stays around to help out needs to clock back in.
Always double-check to make sure that you are following employment laws. If you aren’t sure, talk to a lawyer who specializes in small business operations. You might be surprised to find out that some things you take for granted are illegal.