When you own a business and employ people, it’s easy to assume it’s as simple as opening a service and giving someone a job. Unfortunately, this is far from accurate. You should be aware of many concerns and legal matters as an employer. For example, discrimination laws, the safety of your staff, and even specific insurance policies are mandated by law in most countries.
Equal Access for All
Although we have come a long way, civil rights issues are ongoing. For example, the fair treatment of ethnic minorities falls under the equal opportunities Act. However, the system also extends to sexuality, gender, gender identification, and disabilities. For instance, you must follow ADA compliance regulations for the employment of disabled people as a business in the United States. Compliance with these rules means providing appropriate facilities. These include wheelchair access, braille signage for the sight-impaired, signers for the hearing impaired, and disabled parking.
Liabilities and Insurance
There are many insurance policies you can provide for your business. Most are optional, but some are legally required. For example, worker’s compensation and auto insurance are among legally required procedures. But others aim to protect you, your company, customers, and your employees in equal measure. Business interruption cover is a perfect example. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of businesses have shuttered permanently. Business interruption insurance covers loss of income when you cannot operate as expected.
Health and Safety at Work
All developed countries operate strict health and safety at work regulations. For example, the Health & Safety at Work Act of 1974 is the set of laws in use in the UK. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces federal workplace laws in the United States. You must adhere to workplace regulations or face strict penalties such as fines, lawsuits, and closure as an employer. Most revolve around common sense and decency, such as providing adequate safety gear. In contrast, others are industry-specific to prevent severe injury or death.
Further to health and safety, you are required to provide adequate facilities to all staff members. Facilities are based on gender and mobility. For example, disabled access to toilet facilities is required by law, as are private stalls for men and women. Additionally, access to clean drinking water and eating areas free from hazards are mandated in most nations. A hazard-free environment consists of reduced exposure to loud sounds, dust, shelter from wind and rain, controlled temperature, and clear of toxic chemicals.
Information and Training
No matter the job you expect of an employee, you must ensure correct and pertinent information and training is provided. It is part of your responsibilities and duty of care to provide all necessary training to all employees. For instance, if you operate a vehicle paint garage, it’s unreasonable to assume a new employee knows how to properly use a dust air gun. While it’s a simple device, misuse, such as blowing air onto an arm, can build air bubbles inside veins which can cause a cardiac arrest and certain death.
Licensing and Qualifications
In addition to training employees to use necessary equipment properly, you are also responsible for checking any licensing and qualifications. A new employee might seem like a nice person, but you cannot take their word for it that they are qualified for a specific role. For instance, your warehouse requires qualified and licensed forklift truck operators. Yet an incident at work that results in injury to someone else or damaged goods will hold you liable. As a result, you could face civil lawsuits resulting in huge expenses. Or prosecution and jail time depending on the severity of the crime.
Road Vehicle Safety
Many modern businesses rely upon on-road vehicles to deliver goods, send out technicians or visit clients. Therefore, any cars, vans, or trucks under your company name must be safe for purpose. Fortunately, you can check your vehicles with a FLOWER inspection:
- Fuel: check there’s enough gas, diesel, or charge to make it there and back.
- Lights: make sure all flights are working correctly.
- Oil: adequate oil is needed for proper engine performance.
- Water: water is required to keep certain engine parts cool.
- Electrics: make sure the battery performs correctly.
- Rubber: ensure adequate tire tread for road grip.
It is your duty to make sure a FLOWER inspection is performed regularly. It is best to have your drivers do this before every journey to avoid most vehicle-related issues.
Sometimes it is necessary to make accommodations for certain employees. And you have a duty of care as an employer. Any work premises where certain staff require unique circumstances, you must meet their needs. For example, an employee with severe epilepsy is prone to seizures. Therefore, it is helpful to provide a safe working environment for them. A minimal amount of steps, the covering of sharp edges, and close proximity to medical assistance would be a good start.
Risk Management Procedures
Every business is prone to an emergency. Fire, flood, earthquakes, and terrorism are genuine threats in the modern world. If you lease your business site, you aren’t responsible for the efficacy of emergency devices such as fire alarms. This falls on the site owner. However, you are responsible for ensuring emergency and evacuation procedures are in place. For example, all employees must be aware of their closest fire exits and muster points. In addition, you should hold regular evacuation drills so everyone knows what to do when the worst happens.
The Right to Work
Undocumented workers are illegal in all countries. Therefore, you hold a legal obligation to check any potential employee’s right to work in your nation. In most cases, failure to do so will result in harsh financial penalties and criminal proceedings. In addition, most companies that employ undocumented workers pay pitiful wages and house them in squalor. So, you will be marked as the kind of employer who takes advantage of those in need. This will destroy your standing and reputation in a very difficult way to come back from. Passports and government-issued codes are the best checking methods via your HR team.