Employee rights: What do small business owners need to know?

  • You as a small business owner are required to treat employees fairly and equally, without discrimination.
  • You are also required to pay employees at least minimum wage, provide overtime pay, and ensure a safe working environment.
  • Homebase HR Pro can help you learn more about employee rights easily through training, webinars, and live access to certified experts.

What are employee rights?

As a small business owner, you are required by federal and state law (as well as your local government) to treat employees fairly and equally. There are many rules and regulations implemented by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that aim to enforce a discrimination-free work environment.

These laws prohibit employers from making discrimination-based decisions in terms of both employees and job applicants. There are also employee rights laws from the federal government around equal pay, federal and state minimum wage rights and wage and hour laws, equal benefits, workplace safety. These laws are laid out in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

If you have questions about what the employee rights laws are in your area but don’t have an HR representative employed at your business, Homebase HR Pro can help. While it is best to consult an employment attorney about serious situations, our certified experts can provide help with ensuring your employee handbook policies are free of discrimination and follow the employee rights rules.

What is the Fair Labor Standards Act?

The FLSA requires employers to comply with certain employment laws. The act sets standards for both full- and part-time workers in terms of minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and employing minors.

You must honor these rules when operating your business by maintaining employee time and attendance records and paying employees accurately and for the right amount of time. Learn more about the FLSA in our article about the rules and regulations included in the act.

Employers must also provide equal pay and benefits for the work they perform. This includes paying employees at least the federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher. In terms of benefits like paid leave, you must offer the same level of benefits to all employees.

If an employee works more than 40 hours in one workweek and is non-exempt from the federal overtime law, you must pay them time and a half. For example, if your employees make $10 an hour, you must pay them $15 an hour for any extra hours worked.

If you need help learning about the FLSA, HR Pro not only offers live access to experts, but also provides training and webinars to help you better understand requirements under the FLSA and other labor laws like blue laws, paid leave, and more.


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What is Equal Employment Opportunity?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits you as an employer from discriminating against employees and treating them unfairly based on their race, color, gender, religion, or national origin.

Additionally, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits you from denying reasonable accommodations to employees with either mental or physical disabilities. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act also prevents discrimination against employees and job applicants.

If employees feel they are being unfairly treated or discriminated against by an employer, they have the right to file a complaint. These complaints could lead to fines and potentially lawsuits.

As with the FLSA, HR Pro can help you better understand the ins and outs of these acts so you can make better decisions and learn what it takes to prevent a lawsuit. You can easily get started with HR Pro today to get the extra help you need to stay compliant.

What do I need to know about workplace standards?

Workplace safety is another employee right, meaning you must provide a healthy, safe, and positive environment for all workers. All employees that perform the same or similar job must have access to equal working quarters. You should not provide special accommodations for certain employees, unless those accommodations are due to a disability.

You need to also ensure your workplace is entirely free from hazards that could potentially harm a worker. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has rules in place that require you to follow certain safety standards based on your industry. To learn more about OSHA and their workplace requirements, take a look at their website.

To better understand rules and regulations implemented by OSHA and other federal laws, let HR Pro give you a hand. Take advantage of the plethora of resources our certified experts provide in order to make compliance that much easier.