If you are a business owner, one of the last things you want to do is not abide by the law. The consequences can be severe, up to and including putting you out of business. At the same time, depending on your business, you may feel as though there are an enormous number of regulations you need to be aware of. It can be daunting to try to stay on top of legal issues and requirements, but you can put a few things in place to reduce the likelihood of trouble in this area and strategies you can use if you run into problems.
Know Local Regulations
One issue you may run into is differing regulations across different jurisdictions. This can make you feel you’re drowning in red tape as you try to keep up with them all, but doing so is essential. There’s a reason that some businesses have their legal department. However, even if you don’t have full-time legal counsel, it’s a good idea to run questions by your attorney rather than make any assumptions. It’s important to remember that these local regulations can go well beyond rules about zoning or employment.
In some jurisdictions, a restaurant may only offer single-use straws on request. From cutting hair to caring for children in your home to running a construction business, companies of all sizes and sectors may be subject to certain rules. In California, a government fleet has specific smog inspection testing requirements to remain legally compliant. Telematics can help you meet these smog testing requirements more efficiently, and you can review a guide to help you better understand how this can help. In many of these cases, research can help you figure out how to meet these rules cost-effectively.
Regarding legal issues, better safe than sorry is the phrase you want to keep in mind. This means being fully prepared, including having a crisis plan in place. You should also have policies communicated to your employees regarding such issues as workplace harassment. It may be necessary to require training around these things periodically. There must be a consistent procedure for dealing with employee concerns. In addition, you can do a few things that may be helpful if you find your company in legal trouble.
First, make a habit of thoroughly documenting everything. This gives you records you can refer and present as evidence if necessary. It also helps demonstrate that you followed appropriate procedures. Aim to be as fact-based and impartial as possible when dealing with these types of issues. Although you might feel emotional about how things are going for your company, expressing this is generally not appropriate in a situation like this and may damage your case. Aim for concision and stay focused on the issue at hand. Respect employee confidentiality.
Another potential area of conflict and legal trouble for businesses is contract issues. Prevention is the best approach for dealing with this threat, and it’s a good idea to have an attorney review these types of documents. One mistake some business owners might make is having their managers negotiate contracts with little or no training on how to do it. This is not a skill you can automatically assume someone has, and it can lead to errors that arise because the contract wasn’t read correctly or understood or poorly negotiated.
If you work with contracts frequently as part of your business, this may be a reason to consider having full-time legal counsel. Within your industry, you can also ask around and find out what others think about the individual or company you’re negotiating a contract with. If they are already involved in lawsuits or complaints or otherwise have a bad reputation, you may want to proceed with caution or look elsewhere.
If there are unsafe working conditions at your business, you run the risk of facing fines or other legal action. You need to prioritize the safety of your employees whether you run a factory or construction site, or you are what is traditionally thought of as a more low-risk environment, such as an office. Creating a culture in the workplace that values safety is just as important as following regulations and training employees. Your workers need to feel that they can raise safety concerns without retaliation and that those concerns will be taken seriously.