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Four Biggest Compliance Mistakes for Small Businesses

For small businesses, the lack of compliance to state and federal regulations can lead to devastating fines, lawsuits, and endangerment of people and property. Over the last decade, I’ve helped small businesses rectify the following four compliance mistakes which many business owners make:

Compliance Mistake 1: Believing that your company doesn’t have to worry about compliance and that noncompliance won’t be caught. One company faced fines when an OSHA inspector just happened to drive by and noticed dangerous behavior by employees erecting a sign. State and federal regulations reach down to the smallest company. If you own a company, you need to worry about compliance.

Compliance Mistake 2: Using out of date forms and posters. Because regulations continually change, you must keep your forms and posters up to date. Posters and most forms are free and downloadable, so there is no excuse for using outdated materials.

Compliance Mistake 3: Not having standard policies and procedures. If your employees do not know what to do, if you haven’t written down the rules (like using protective gear), then you have lost control over compliance, including maintaining consistent documentation to prove your compliance if needed. Compliance should be a habit, continually reinforced with training.

Compliance Mistake 4: Not addressing problems immediately. The longer you allow noncompliant situations to exist, from poor paperwork to sexual harassment, the more likely you are to find yourself in court. An improperly trained manager may open you to a hiring discrimination or wrongful termination suit; a disgruntled employee may send OSHA inspectors into your office, plant, or jobsite.

Small business owners must take compliance seriously. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your business is exempt or “too small” to attract attention. You are vulnerable if your state and federal regulatory information, forms, policies, or procedures are out of date, inconsistent, or nonexistent and if you have made no effort to ensure compliance.

Helping to bring small businesses into regulatory compliance is an important service of HR Compliance 101. If you are not sure whether you are compliant, an HR Compliance 101 confidential assessment, covering more than 100 state and federal regulations, will allow you to fix problems before they attract official attention. There are ways to fix even the longest-running problems. Contact me today.

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