Skip to main content

Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Search for legal issues
For help near (city, ZIP code or county)
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location

5 Employment Law Issues That Don't Require a Lawyer

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak and related stay-home orders and closures, small business owners are facing challenges like never before. Depending on your type of business, you may have had to let workers go, ask your employees to work from home, or maybe even hire new workers on a temporary or permanent basis.

No matter what type of uncharted territory you are in right now, you want to make sure to take the legal steps necessary to protect your business.

Here are five ways to protect your business and your team right now, without needing to hire a lawyer:

1. Make sure that your employee handbook and HR policies are up to date.

The COVID-19 crisis is a reminder that even small businesses need policies and procedures in place. Your business should have a clear policy set for paid time off, including sick time and vacation time, if you offer it. Not only do employee handbooks and clear HR policies make sure everyone is on the same page, but they also help businesses avoid liability and lower the risk of being sued.

Quick links to do-it-yourself forms and guides:

2. Set up work-from-home agreements with employees.

If you have asked employees to work from home to comply with a state stay-at-home order or to otherwise do your part to promote social distancing, you are probably noticing that working from home has its challenges. The best way to make policies and expectations clear is to set up a work-from-home policy or agreement, which could be added to your employment handbook or could stand on its own.

Quick links to do-it-yourself forms:

3. If you have to let workers go, follow the procedure outlined in your employment agreement, if you have one.

Letting someone go is never an easy thing to do, especially in a crisis like we are experiencing now. But businesses all over the country are having to do what's needed to stay afloat. We have extensive information for business owners in our Employment Termination section, and a directory of employment lawyers with links to experienced lawyers near you.

Quick links to do-it-yourself forms:

4. Need to hire help? Determine if you are hiring an employee or an independent contractor.

If you haven't done a lot of hiring in the past, you may be unsure if you should hire an employee or an independent contractor to help your business keep up or grow during this trying time. Sometimes, employers try to save money by (mis)classifying employees as contractors, and it can have serious consequences. Read more about the legal difference between the two in our article Hiring Independent Contractors vs Employees

Quick links to do-it-yourself forms:

5. Do what you can to limit workers' exposure to COVID-19.

As an employer, you have a duty to make sure your workers are safe. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has extensive information on its website on how employers can help keep their workers safe. Most employers have been doing whatever they can to allow their employees to work remotely, and in most states, all but "essential workers" have been ordered to work from home.

Quick links to do-it-yourself forms:

Stay up-to-date on federal, state, and local regulations.

The coronavirus outbreak has led to many new federal, state, and local laws, some of which directly relate to small businesses. From federal and state disability laws that limit medical inquiries and protect against disability discrimination, to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provides sick pay requirements, there are many changes to know and understand.

Do your best to stay informed by resources you trust, and consider meeting with an employment law attorney in your area to make sure your policies are not exposing you to a lawsuit.

Quick links to additional resources:

Next Steps

Contact a qualified business attorney to help you prevent and address human resources problems.

Help Me Find a Do-It-Yourself Solution

Find a Lawyer

More Options