If you run a small business, chances are you also manage employees -- making you an employer. As an employer, you have a tremendous responsibility to your workers with regard to keeping them productive, satisfied with their jobs, free from harassment or other mistreatment, and working toward the overall goals of your business. You also are bound by federal, state, and local employment laws. These include the payment of fair wages, the right to work in an environment free from harassment or discrimination, and the requirement in most states that you carry a specified minimum amount of workers' compensation insurance. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
"Human resources" (or simply "HR") refers to the people who comprise the workforce of your business. The term is often used within the context of HR management -- applying employment laws and best practices to your workforce in order to increase productivity, retain your top talent, and minimize legal exposure. FindLaw's Employment Law and Human Resources section covers a wide range of these issues.
This article provides a number of resources to help you get a handle on your own employment and HR issues.
Hiring, Compensation, and Benefits
Although you're generally not required to offer benefits, it's an effective way to both attract and retain top talent. But if you do offer benefits, you need to make sure you don't run afoul of any regulations and that your workers are properly classified as either employees or contractors. Compensation -- including not just the amount of pay but also vacation time and other factors -- is governed by certain state and federal regulations. Finally, the hiring process is regulated by federal and state nondiscrimination laws and other regulations.
The Hiring Process
Discrimination and Harassment
Protecting your employees from discrimination and harassment is not only the right thing to do, but it will help prevent costly lawsuits and a stressful workplace. Keep in mind that while federal anti-discrimination laws still do not protect LGBTQ employees, many state laws do. But regardless of these laws, cultivating an inclusive and respectful workplace is smart HR policy and will help you recruit top talent and get the most out of your staff.
Discipline, Termination, and Resignations
As an employer, you may find yourself in the position of having to reprimand employees for unacceptable and/or disruptive behavior, not only to maintain an orderly workplace but also to protect your company from claims of discrimination or negligence. You'll want to create discipline policies in advance, make sure your employees understand these policies, and be consistent. Also, how you terminate or otherwise say goodbye to employees is just as crucial (if not more so) than how you conduct the hiring process.
Termination and Resignations
Consider Getting Legal Employment and HR Help
Anytime you hire employees, you open yourself up to a great deal of legal risk. Whether you're hiring two employees or 100, make sure you manage your human resources ethically and within the scope of federal and state laws. You can find an employment law attorney near you for a consultation or ongoing counsel.