Your business owner responsibilities may be greater than you think
Obvious statement: Running a business is hard work. Managing inventory, attracting customers, building a reputation in the community are just a few of the challenges that must be addressed in running any business. But this list only touches on the responsibilities of a business owner to the public and to the business. What about a business’s responsibility to its employees? That is an entirely different level of responsibility.
If running a business is hard, being an employer may be even harder! The rights of workers, and the responsibilities of employers to those workers, have been in a state of constant flux since the United States formally adopted the eight-hour workday for most working people in the late 1930s. Minimum wage laws, entitlement to overtime, and protected leave laws have emerged and evolved in the decades that have followed. In conjunction with these wage-and-hour laws has been the growth of laws to protect individuals from discrimination and other harmful treatment based on certain protected characteristics. While these protections have undoubtedly improved the working conditions and society, they create many legal pitfalls for employers.
The best way to avoid the pitfalls that come with being an employer is to stay educated on the law and your responsibilities. Recently, New York state increased the minimum wage in the state (outside of New York City) to $14.20. That figure is set to increase as well. Currently, New York’s minimum wage is set to increase on a yearly basis until it hits $16 in 2026. Another change in New York state is that employers must now provide sexual harassment-prevention training for all employees at least annually, as well as to all new employees within 30 days of their hire. To keep updated on changes, most state Departments of Labor provide free email alerts of major or breaking changes in state employment law.
While staying educated on employer responsibilities is vital, it is not a guarantee that nothing will go wrong. Issues are inevitable even for the most educated employers. An employment practices liability insurance policy is necessary for employers who wish to protect themselves and their employees from liability-related employment practices. Typically, an EPLI policy provides liability coverage for claims related to discrimination (including sexual harassment), wrongful termination, and retaliation. Employers can add additional coverage for wage and hour issues. Although coverage typically does not include payment of lost wages, it should cover defense costs, which can be a significant expense.
Wondering what EPLI policy is best for your business? Give our agency a call.