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Give Your Business a Check-Up for the New Year

Business Law

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The beginning of a new year is the right time for business owners to assess where they are, where they want to go and what they need to do to get there. By taking a proactive approach, they prevent problems that could otherwise sidetrack their companies.

The experienced business law attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC are prepared to give business owners a comprehensive “check-up” of their companies’ structural health. They ask the important questions, such as:

  1. Do you have the right company formation?
  2. Have you grown in the past year or wish to grow your workforce in 2018? How does this increase in workforce size affect your operations and legal needs?
  3. Have you reviewed the contracts associated with your business?
  4. When was the last time you updated your company handbook?
  5. Are your policies and procedures up to date and in line with new laws and regulations?
  6. What new laws have been passed, and how do they affect you and your business?
  7. Do you have a tax strategy for 2018?

By addressing these questions now, business owners can avoid costly pitfalls in the future.

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Your Foundation

As your company grows and matures, you may discover the business formation you chose at the beginning may not fit your needs now. A sole proprietorship isn’t feasible when investors enter the picture, so you may want to consider changing your company into a Limited Liability Corporation. The tax liability of a S corporation may not be as helpful to the bottom line as a C corporation.

If you find that your business formation isn’t working for you, our attorneys can review your current structure and offer insight into the benefits of changing your formation. They will take into account what your short, medium and long-term goals are, and they will advise you about which formation will maximize your profits and reduce your tax liability.

Your Employees

Regulations change as your workforce changes. Different state and federal standards must be met, depending on how many people you employ. If you own a business that relies on seasonal, on-call or foreign workers, you have additional rules and regulations you must follow. Not following even the most obscure regulation can lead to potential problems for you and your company.

Wage and Hour Issues

There has been an increased demand nationwide for higher wages for all employees. Some states are already taking up the matter. For example, New York State has been overhauling wage and hour laws at a rapid pace in recent years. Minimum wages are rising every year, and new regulations are being added or discussed. Employers – especially those who rely on minimum wage and on-call workers, such as restaurants and hotels – need to update their policies to meet these new laws and regulations.

Family Medical Leave

Family medical leave provisions are being enhanced to reflect a growing need for extended periods of paid time off. For example, New York is granting eight weeks of paid time off in 2018 for parents to adjust to having a newborn or newly-adopted child, for adult children to attend to an ailing family member or for a spouse focus on the family when the other is called to active military duty. These provisions go beyond what the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but it’s the standard all New York employers must meet.

Tully Rinckey PLLC’s attorneys are available to discuss all of the latest updates to employment regulations with you, so you can offer your employees a proper wage and benefit package.

Your Policies

As employment laws and regulations change at the state and federal levels, so should company policies. This requires employers to go through their guidebooks on an annual basis and make any necessary adjustments to ensure that everything is up to date. It is an essential part of any business plan tune-up to review changes in federal and state labor laws that may have developed since your last update and develop new policies ensure your company is ready to enter the new year with the right policies in place

Employee Handbooks

As you update your policies, you should update your employee handbooks.  An employee handbook is an essential tool to protect not only your company’s interests, but also ensure your employees work in a safe and professional work environment.  Not every handbook is created the same and a handbook that works for one company may not work for another.  It is important to tailor a handbook to your company’s particular needs.

The labor and employment attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC will review your employee policies and make certain that your company is in complete compliance with federal, state and local regulations.

Your Contracts

The start of a new year is a good time for employers to review the language in their employment contracts. There may be information that is out of date, or there may be benefits that no longer apply because of changes to federal and state regulations.

These days, it’s common for former employees to seek employment with your direct competitor.  In some states, non-compete agreements can be used to help protect your interests and ensure that the employee you just trained doesn’t run across the street to work for your closest competition.  Not all states treat non-compete agreements the same and not all employees can be subject to a non-compete agreement. A properly drafted non-compete agreement, however, can be a great tool to protect your business for years to come.

A vendor contract should be considered more than a piece of paper; it is a living document that must be re-examined and fine-tuned frequently to ensure the financial success of both sides. When is the last time you reviewed your vendors’ contracts?  What might have created financial gains for both companies one year may be of little or no benefit to one or both sides the next.

Tully Rinckey PLLC’s attorneys will review and discuss all of your contracts and help you update them, as necessary.

Your Taxes

New tax laws at the state and federal levels can mean big changes for your bottom line. A change in the tax rate can mean the difference between receiving a refund or having to pay Uncle Sam. Timing is also important, as there may be a grace period before regulations take effect. You will need all the facts before you start setting aside money for the annual tax bill.

The business attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC will assist you with your company’s tax planning. They will take into account all of the laws and regulations coming on the books in the new year and help you determine what this means for your business. This way, you won’t be taken by surprise when your accountant calls with news about how much of a refund you will be receiving, or how much you have to pay to the IRS or your state’s tax and revenue service.

New Rules and Regulations

There is far more going on in Congress and in state legislatures than business owners can rightfully be expected to follow and understand. Depending on where your business is located, you may discover that a local or state labor statute supersedes the federal standard. States such as New York and California have employment standards that are more stringent than what the federal government calls for. A municipality, such as New York City, can also develop policies that might provide even stricter requirements than the state and federal level.

Once a law goes on the books, it doesn’t necessarily stay there forever. A court or an administrative board can overturn a regulation. For instance, the National Labor Relations Board frequently issues new rulings, depending on the administration, that can have far-reaching impact for a company.

Tully Rinckey PLLC attorneys inform themselves of any changes or rulings that affect employment laws and regulations and pass them on to you, so you’re able to adjust your company’s policies to reflect these changes in real time. They will tell you what these changes mean for your company’s bottom line, and they will assist you with any compliance matters.

Conclusion

A new year means new local, state and federal labor and employment laws for business owners to consider. These can significantly alter established employment agreements, employee handbooks and vendor contracts, to name a few. The experienced attorneys at Tully Rinckey PLLC will go over every new law and regulation with you and develop the policies you need to ensure a healthy 2018 for your business.

Call 888-529-4543 or email info@tullylegal.com to schedule a “check-up” with one of our attorneys.

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