Common ‘Wisdom’ May Not Be Real Business Law

November 16, 2018|

We grow up with lots of stories we assume are true and never really question. For instance, did the pilgrims and the Indians really sit down for a Thanksgiving dinner? Did they eat turkey and gravy?

The law is the same way. Possession is not really nine-tenths of the law.

But on a more serious note, there are lots of stories people believe about the law that are not true and can get them in trouble. This is especially true for a small business, which might not have the resources to have professional staff for issues such as employment law.

I call these legends “grocery store law” because they are the laws you learn while standing in line at the grocery store. Employees are frequent proponents of grocery store law. Your employee is standing in line at the grocery store, complaining to his spouse about how his boss never schedules breaks right and he worked the whole eight-hour shift with no break. The busybody behind them jumps into the conversation and adamantly says, “They can’t do that! The law says you have to give breaks every four hours.”

No, it does not! There is no law, federal or in Georgia, that mandates any frequency of break times. A consistent break policy is good management practice, but it is not law.

On the other hand, many small business owners believe they can avoid payroll taxes and the hassle of withholding by making every employee an “independent contractor.” No, you cannot! The distinction between employee and independent contractor is legal and has almost nothing to do with the label you give people.

It is critical that businessowners separate fact from fiction surrounding the laws related to their business, whether they cover employee relations, safety, permitting and licensing, or any other business aspect. Continuing education courses, government websites and trade associations are all good sources of accurate information.

And, of course, there is always your friendly neighborhood lawyer!

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