As an employer, how do I know if I am subject to or in compliance with all Federal or State Laws ?
There are a multitude of governmental agencies who are responsible for the enforcement of a variety of Federal and State laws and regulations governing employment. Which laws and regulations apply to your business will require an individual analysis of your business and will be impacted by a variety of factors including, but not limited to, the nature of your business and the number of employees you employ on a full or part-time basis.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) administers and enforces most federal employment laws, including those covering wages and hours of work, safety and health standards, employee health and retirement benefits, and federal contracts. Some more popular legislation, both in terms of media coverage and generated litigation, administered by the DOL, includes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Both the ADA and the FMLA can have profound and dire consequences upon an employer if they fail to follow the specific requirements.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is responsible for the assessment and collection of taxes owed to the Federal Government. The IRS is also responsible for ensuring employers are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces many of the laws ensuring nondiscrimination against protected classes in the workplace. The EEOC also is in charge of ensuring employees do not have to work in “hostile work environments”.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administers the primary law governing relations between unions and employers.
The State of Georgia has its own Department of Labor with additional and more specific rules and regulations applicable to the businesses which transact business within the state. Specifically included are those rules regarding unemployment compensation and child labor.
Additionally the State Board of Worker’s Compensation is responsible for compliance with the rules and regulations governing on the job injuries. Georgia has specific laws governing an employer’s obligation to obtain insurance for workers compensation as well as detailed reporting requirements.
Are my employees independent contractors?
Whether a particular individual providing services to your business will be classified as an employee or independent contractor is evaluated on a subjective standard which can change depending upon the law under which the evaluation is made. For instance, the determination of independent contractor status under Georgia law differs from that under the rules and regulations utilized by the IRS. Different sets of laws, such as the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act, contain varying definitions for “independent contractor”. Therefore, a detailed analysis of a particular individual under a particular set of facts should be made. The failure to properly classify an individual as an employee could prove to be a costly mistake to an employer.
Am I required to pay my employees an hourly rate or can I pay a fixed salary?
The primary reason most employers desire to pay employees on a salary basis is that it removes the necessity of tracking and maintaining the hours worked by particular employees. The issue, however, is that under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Georgia law many “salaried” individuals who are not classified as “exempt” must still be paid “overtime” for each hour they work in excess of 40 hours during a given workweek. The laws governing which employees are exempt from overtime compensation and which ones must be paid overtime can often be unclear and difficult to decipher. While there are three broad exemptions for employees whose principal duties are executive, administrative, or professional in nature, it is not always clear if the employee falls into one of these categories. Failure to evaluate an employee’s status correctly can result in liability to the employer for unpaid overtime compensation, often over many years.