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Small Business Week: Employment Tips for Your Startup or Small Biz

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on May 04, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

This week is the SBA's Small Business Week, so we'll be featuring legal advice for small businesses all week long. Today's topic is employment -- the lifeblood of your company that can turn toxic if you're not careful.

Worker protections against discrimination and wrongful termination are expanding, and wage and hour laws aren't getting any less complex. So here are a few tips as your startup or small business in advertising, hiring, and firing (with some demoting or promoting in between):

Play Fair

Allegations of discrimination can destroy a small business's reputation. And employment discrimination lawsuits can destroy the business itself. Fortunately, fostering a diversity-friendly environment at work isn't impossible.

Getting acquainted with the EEOC's Discrimination Guide for Startups will make a good first impression, and you should also be aware of new and old discrimination protections for LGBT workers. It really comes down to having an up-to-date anti-discrimination policy in place, and sticking to it.

Pay a Fair Wage

You don't need to reverse a centuries-old of wage gap by paying all female employees twice as much as men (though it might not be a bad idea), but you do need to adhere to federal, state, and local wage and hour laws. These laws cover everything from internships to overtime and can appear byzantine even for those trying to do right by their employees.

And as the minimum wage keeps increasing (especially in certain cities and states), make sure you know whether those laws apply to your business or your staff, and whether you're in compliance.

Take Care of Your Workers

Sure, a paycheck is nice, but what else you got? Today's best and brightest aren't just looking for salary -- they're also comparing benefit plans to stay happy. And your company may want to add telecommuting and tuition reimbursement to the traditional health and retirement plans to stay competitive.

Of course, one of the hottest topics in benefits (or necessities, really) is paid parental leave. Wondering how much to offer? Learn from the best.

From posting a job to firing, small business employment is fraught with legal dangers. To make sure your small business is safe, you should talk to an experienced employment law attorney today.

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