5 Important Government Regulations for Small Businesses

5 Important Government Regulations for Small Businesses

There are many moving parts when it comes to owning and operating a small business. One thing you certainly do not want to overlook is the government's rules and regulations in regard to business laws. Industry in part determines how the rules pertain and what regulations need to be followed; for example, a restaurant will work under a different set of laws in some instances than a beauty salon will. But there are those "across the board" regulations of which every small business owner should be aware.

Understanding Business Regulations

Again, keep in mind, that the regulations and laws by which you must abide do depend in part on the industry. Also, you need to consider things such as the type of productservice you offer, number of employees, and your overall work environment. As far as this goes, if you have a construction business, for instance, regulations will mandate that employees adhere to certain safety standards and that the environment itself provides a protective component.

Another example when it comes to the difference between how laws pertain to one company versus another can be seen with the family leave act. This only applies to public and private companies that have more than 50 employees. A smaller organization will not necessarily have this in place.

So why have business regulations at all? Many owners don't fully embrace such regulations, but they are there for a reason, to include: creating safer working environments, ensuring employees get requisite benefits, protecting against the formation of monopolies; businesses in similar industries have to follow similar rules and thus have similar standards.

Regardless of how big or small your business may be, there will be certain rules you absolutely have to follow. To avoid fines, penalties and possibly worse, make sure that you know what these are and how they pertain to you.

5 of The Most Common Business Regulations

In establishing your company, you might be working with a business attorney. The attorney can definitely help you better navigate the laws that you need to know and consequently follow.

1. Employment

One of the biggest employment-related laws deals with anti-discrimination legislation. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires the following:

  • An employer has to offer equal pay for male and female employees

  • You're not allowed to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, disability and other factors. Again, equal pay for equal work applies.

  • You also cannot discriminate based on age

If an employee should report unfairness in the workplace or suspected discrimination, you as the employer cannot retaliate. You also have to respect religious beliefs and accommodate for disabilities.

2. Taxes

In order to continue to operate in the US legally, you have to abide by business tax code at both the state and federal level. In terms of filing your taxes, this will depend on the company structure, whether LLC, sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, etc.

3. Advertising

When doing your marketing and advertising, you need to be sure that all messages, etc. are truthful and not misleading in any way. The Federal Trade Commission is in charge of the business advertising end of things, and they mandate that any claims you make must be based on facts, on evidence. If you cannot support such claims, you will be in violation and subject to penalties.

4. Environment

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA/) regulates industries such as agriculture, construction, as well as oil and gas. It is their job to ensure that businesses are following protocol for example when disposing of harmful wastes. They also make sure that the environment isn't being compromised as a result of a company's activities.

5. Privacy

In this day and age of digital breaches and hacking, businesses have to be super careful about protecting personal information. Between consumers and employees, you do gather sensitive details—you are thus obligated not to share such information with anyone and to try and protect such data at all costs. As a small business, you cannot collect certain info on minors, share information with third parties unless otherwise specified, or use the information you do gather for anything other than revealed and intended purposes.

A Few Other Notes Regarding Business Regulations

Antitrust laws are also important to understand and abide by. As such your company is not allowed to boycott suppliers, create a monopoly within your market or fix market prices in any way whether on your own or in conspiring with other businesses.

These laws basically ensure that we maintain a free market system and thus protect the consumer from unfair pricing and market monopolization.

You also want to look into licensing requirements. Not all industries require licenses, but some most definitely do. For instance, if you have a liquor store you will be mandated to have a liquor license. Or with certain food-based businesses, you have to abide by the FDA regulations to ensure safety and adequate standards.

Knowing Which Government Regulations Apply to Your Company

You might start by contacting the U.S. Small Business Administration. They can get you information regarding government regulations and how they pertain to your business. They may also be able to help you apply for certain licenses, give you crucial tax information and explain to you how your firm can remain compliant. The chamber of commerce might be another resource to tap regarding local business laws especially.

The United States Department of Labor can also advise you regarding rules and regulations that need to be followed by any type of small business in operation. Through FirstStep Employment Law Advisor service, which you can access online, you can learn about all relevant federal employment laws for instance.

And, as noted before, enlisting the aid of a business attorney may make sense. Especially if you're relatively new to an industry or market, they can guide you and give you direction as far as regulations, licensing and other such requirements so that you don't miss something and thus end up paying a steep price for it.

Us at First Union love helping small businesses. If you are in need of advice or have any questions, contact us today!

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