If you are considering hiring employees for the first time, or feel as though you may be at risk of facing a costly dispute, consult with a San Diego employment law attorney before moving forward to avoid worsening what may be an already difficult situation. Knowledge is power–you must know and understand what courses of action to take before you can avoid substantial financial and legal liability. While there are many considerations when hiring a worker for the first time, here are five key things that you should know.
You Must Confirm Employment Eligibility
Employers are expected to complete Form I-9 when they hire workers. This form verifies that an individual is authorized to work within the United States. Employees must attest on the form to their authorization and employers must obtain acceptable documentation proving an employee’s eligibility to work within the U.S. Employers who fail to fulfill this federally imposed obligation and hire undocumented or illegal workers face increasing fines and penalties for doing so. Click here for a link to a summary of these penalties.
You Must Withhold Payroll Taxes
Employers are required to withhold an appropriate amount of payroll taxes from employee paychecks and to transmit the withheld funds to collecting tax agencies. Employers must withhold federal income tax, Social Security and Medicare taxes, state income taxes, and any applicable local tax withholdings. Payroll tax returns must be filed with appropriate taxing authorities by the deadlines and employers must also pay their own portion of payroll taxes when submitting tax filings.
You Likely Will be Required to Purchase Certain Insurance Coverage
Employers must purchase various types of insurance including workers’ compensation coverage and unemployment coverage. These types of insurance are required with limited exceptions, such as exceptions made for certain agricultural workers.
You Must Comply with Wage-and-Hour Rules
As an employer, you are expected to comply with all wage-and-hour rules, or which there are many in California. This means you must pay non-exempt employees for all time worked and must pay at least minimum wage at least twice monthly. If employees work in excess of eight hours over the course of a workday or if employees work more than 40 hours during a work week, they are entitled to receive overtime pay. If employees are terminated, employers must promptly provide pay for hours worked and for any accrued vacation time.
You Must Comply with Anti-Discrimination Laws
Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees based on certain protected classifications. Compliance with state and federal anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws is required, with potentially severe repercussions for violations. In addition to the federal protections afforded to employees nationwide, California affords even broader protections for workers, who cannot be fired based on political beliefs, HIV status, sexual orientation, and many other protected characteristics.
Unlike federal protection which typically do not apply to employers with less than 15 employees, like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (requires 20 or more employees), California laws begin affording protections to workers if their employer has only one employee. Click here for a list of applicable federal and state law based on number of employees.
Discrimination does not just take the form of refusing to hire someone because of race or gender. If a hostile work environment is created, if women are paid less than men for substantially the same work, or if an unnecessary job requirement has the effect of disqualifying more minority workers, employers risk being sued. California case law provides volumes of examples of situations in which employers have found themselves in hot water for violating anti-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws, often unintentionally.
Getting Help from San Diego Employment Lawyers
The award-winning and respected San Diego employment lawyers at Gehres Law Library routinely provide personalized help with the process of hiring employees, as well as advice and representation throughout the employment relationship. Our legal team offers the advice you need to comply with California’s labor laws and with other state and federal requirements. Give us a call at 858-964-2314 or contact us online today to find out more.