Know (and Follow) the Law
Labor Laws • Records and Accounting • Taxes
Ho, hum. Taxes, recordkeeping and employment law are not the most exciting subjects you’ll encounter as a business owner, but they are among some of the most important. Whether you choose to handle these tasks yourself or outsource them to others, you must have at least a passing familiarity with the regulations and requirements you are expected to uphold. After all, it’s your signature on those paychecks and tax forms.
Federal Labor Laws
Employment Eligibility Verification Within three days of being hired, each new employee must complete Form I-9 from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to verify his/her identity and eligibility to work in the United States. Download the form, instructions and a list of acceptable documents at www.uscis.gov.
The Fair Labor Standards Act Fair Labor Standards applies to nearly all U.S. businesses and requires companies to pay at least the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) and overtime pay of not less than one-and-one-half times the regular pay rate after 40 hours of work per week. The act prohibits persons under age 18 from working in certain jobs and establishes the hours/times employees under age 16 may work. Some employees are exempt from some of the major requirements; consult the U.S. Department of Labor (www.dol.gov) for details.
Occupational Safety and Health OSHA laws require businesses to provide a safe workplace and, in many cases, to maintain records of job-related injuries and illnesses. Employers with 10 or fewer employees are exempt from most requirements, as are industries classified as low-hazard. Fines and penalties may be levied for non-compliance. Go to www.osha.gov for details.
Americans with Disabilities Act The ADA prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities and requires that public accommodations and commercial facilities be designed to comply with specified accessibility standards. All businesses offering access to customers and/or employing 15 or more workers must abide by ADA rules. Visit www.ada.gov for details and to download the “ADA Guide for Small Businesses.”
Family and Medical Leave Businesses employing 50 or more must give certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year (26 weeks for qualifying military caregivers) while preserving their health benefits during the period. Employees may take leave for the birth of a child; if they adopt a child or provide foster care; to care for a seriously ill spouse, child or parent; or if they personally suffer a serious health condition. Visit www.dol.gov/whd/fmla to download a copy of “The Employer’s Guide to The Family and Medical Leave Act.”
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission The EEOC enforces federal employment laws that protect civil rights and prohibit discrimination based on age, disability, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.
The Equal Pay Act The Equal Pay Act applies to virtually all employers and prohibits wage discrimination between men and women performing substantially equal work within the same workplace.
The Affordable Care Act The ACA requires all employers who provide self-insured health coverage to their employees to file an annual return with the IRS detailing certain information for each employee they cover. Specific insurance options and eligibility for tax credits to help underwrite the costs of providing coverage under ACA vary depending on business size and number of employees covered. Note: The federal health insurance program established by the Affordable Care Act in 2010 was under congressional review at the time of publication. Check for updates on health coverage requirements at www.healthcare.gov or www.irs.gov/Affordable-Care-Act/Employers.
State Labor Laws
New Hires Employers are required to complete a New Hire Reporting Form for every newly hired or rehired employee, full- or part-time, within 20 days.
Minimum Wage The 2017 Florida minimum wage is $8.10 per hour; tipped employees who meet the eligibility requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act receive $5.08 per hour in addition to tips.
Workers’ Compensation Employers with four or more employees (full- or part-time) must carry workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. Different requirements apply for construction and agriculture.
Child Labor Workers under the age of 18 cannot work in hazardous occupations such as excavation, electrical work, roofing, mining, operating heavy machinery or motor vehicles, or around explosives, toxic or radioactive substances or dangerous equipment. Additional occupations are banned for children ages 14 and 15. Minors cannot work during school hours without an exemption.
Background Checks Private citizens or companies may request a state-only criminal history record check of an individual through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website (www.fdle.state.fl.us) for a fee of $24 per case.