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6 Tips for Navigating the Maze of Business Regulations

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4. Workplace Safety Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires that employers provide a workplace "free from recognized, serious hazards." According to the Department of Labor, most private industries are required to abide by the act and are monitored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or one of its state branches. OSHA does not cover the self-employed.

5. Hiring and Firing Labor Laws

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits hiring or firing based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin but only applies to employers with 15 or more workers. The same goes for federal regulations barring discrimination against people with disabilities. There are several other federal anti-discrimination laws, and local and state governments often have stricter government regulations. You should review your local and state anti-discrimination laws, which you can find at the library and through state labor agencies. The Department of Labor’s Web site for small business is a good place to start.

6. Minimum Wage

As of May 2007, the federal minimum wage stands at $5.15 an hour, although it is likely to rise. Many states, cities and counties have higher minimum wages. If you don't pay the federal minimum wage, you could be fined up to $10,000.

Under federal law, waiters and waitresses only need to be paid $2.13 an hour if they can make $5.15 an hour through tips, according to the Department of Labor. Also, check with the department or the Small Business Administration to see if your employees are entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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