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Arlington Heights business law attorneysThere are only a few short weeks before Christmas, and people everywhere are scrambling to buy gifts. This means that many retail companies have got to find a way to meet significantly-increased demand. Many stores satisfy this demand by hiring additional staff for the holiday season, but some businesses struggle to find and hire good temporary workers. There are some steps you can take that may make the recruitment and hiring process more efficient as the winter holidays draw near.

Do Not Wait to Hire Seasonal Workers

By the month of December, most retail stores are already deep into the hiring process for seasonal employees. It is important for businesses to be proactive and not wait until the last minute to hire this additional help. Ideally, businesses would start the recruitment process weeks or even months before the holiday shopping season begins. This allows employers to process applications and interview candidates long before the demand increases.

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyWhen you own business that operates in a highly competitive industry, it is understandable that you would want to protect your investments, including your time, money, and efforts. If you rely on proprietary systems or recipes, you may require your employees to sign non-disclosure agreements which contractually forbids them from sharing your secrets. Similarly, if you employ a team of skilled employees, you may want to protect that investment as well by using non-compete agreements. According to the law in Illinois, non-competes may be an option, but only if your employees’ wages also represent how much you value your workers.

New Limitations

The Illinois Freedom to Work Act was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner last August and went into effect on January 1, 2017. The Act prohibits the use of non-compete agreements for employees who make less than $13 per hour. The measure was prompted, in large part, by complaints from employees of the sandwich chain Jimmy Johns. Workers at the Illinois-based chain were routinely required to sign non-compete agreements that prevented them from working for another sub shop during their employment with Jimmy Johns—and two more years after that!

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Arlington Heights business law attorneyIn today’s American economy, there is a dramatic difference between unemployment and underemployment. Unemployment, generally speaking, is tracked by government watchdog groups as an indicator of economic growth and usually takes into account those who are not currently working but are looking for jobs. Underemployment, by comparison, is much more difficult to quantify and refers to those who may be working but who are still having trouble making ends meet.

Temporary workers—also known as temps or day laborers—are often considered to be among the underemployed. On any given day, they may have jobs, but those jobs are not guaranteed and can quickly disappear. In an effort to help protect the rights of temp workers, Illinois lawmakers recently passed a measure that requires temp agencies to be more forthcoming about the type of work a temp will be doing and more aggressive about placing temps in permanent positions.

The Role of Temp Agencies

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Illinois business law attorneyWhen you own a small or medium-sized business, you do not always have the money to do all of the things you want to do. Between payroll, utilities, taxes, and honoring contracts with vendors and suppliers, you may not have very much left over—especially if you are a newer company. This can create challenges if you are looking for ways to keep your staff motivated, as you may think that workers respond best to bonuses, gift cards, and other financial incentives. It may come as a surprise to learn that other motivational strategies may be just as effective as money—if not more so—in increasing your employees’ productivity.

Lead From the Front

A popular image that is often shared among managers and team leaders depicts two conflicting leadership styles. The top half of the image shows a “boss” sitting at his desk atop a heavy load directing a team of unhappy people as they drag the load. The bottom half shows the same team and the same load, but this time, the “leader” is at the front of the team, encouraging them and pulling with them. The team is happier and the work is being done more efficiently.

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Illinois business law attorneyIn recent months, at least seven states—including Illinois—have been vying for the attention of Foxconn, a Taiwan-based technology company looking for a new foothold on American soil. Illinois lawmakers and industry leaders believed that landing a Foxconn plant could have been a major boost to the state’s economy and would have created thousands of new jobs.

This week, however, an announcement by Foxconn dashed the hopes of Illinoisans by confirming that it plans to build a 20-million square foot facility in Wisconsin. The new plant will produce LCD panel screens and is expected to employ 3,000 workers when it opens. The company also said that its Wisconsin plant could eventually employ as many as 13,000 as it continues to invest in the region.

A Questionable History

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Arlington Heights business law attorney, employee handbook, employee policies, business law compliance, company policiesClearly outlining your company’s policies, standards, and expectations is one of the most effective things you can do as a business owner to create mutually beneficial relationships between you, the owner, and your employees.

Establishing thorough employee policies will not only help you clarify operational standards with your staff, it will also help reduce your chances of running into problems with various business law compliance issues.

Employee Handbook Necessities

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Arlington Heights business law attorney, business brandingBecoming a business owner is an overwhelming prospect, especially when it comes time to acquaint yourself with the myriad of business laws for which you will be held accountable as you commence your new role. Branding in particular will be an imperative foundation for your marketing efforts, and it all begins with one critical task: selecting a business name.

Doing Business As (DBA)

Whether you are an existing owner looking to start another side business or are embarking on a brand new business venture for the first time, it is important to be aware of the requirement to legally register your business name with the proper authorities to ensure you remain compliant with the law. Filing your “Doing Business As” name (also called your DBA) is the process of officially registering your chosen business name. This name must be different from your real, personal name, and will be required on a number of government forms and applications, such as your employer tax ID application and license paperwork.

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Arlington Heights business law attorney, privacy law complianceAs an employer, you wear many hats when it comes to the operation of your business. Whether you own the business directly or work in partnership with the owners to ensure the production runs smoothly and efficiently to guarantee its success, complying with various privacy business laws is extremely important. It is easy to overlook certain requirements, especially when you are unfamiliar with or unclear on a particular law.

The Purpose of Privacy Law in the Business Realm

Simply put, the purpose of privacy laws is to ensure the protection of sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers, credit card information, and other financial data. The information you gather from your employees can potentially place them at risk for identity theft, harassment from creditors and salesmen, and a number of other inconveniences. 

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Maintaining a successful business begins with the establishment of an operation that abides by the proper state laws and regulations from the get-go. All it takes is one misstep with hiring compliance, license and permits, or tax filing, and your entire business can end up in hot water.

Whether you are a new business owner or have owned a business for some time, it is important to take inventory of your current practices to ensure you are complying with applicable business laws and maintaining an efficient, legal operation. Consider the following examples of areas every business owner must address in order to achieve long-term success.

License and Permit Requirements — There are a number of businesses that require federal licensing, such as those involved with activities that are somehow regulated by a federal agency. These business categories can include everything from commercial transportation and agriculture to the sale of alcohol or firearms. Even if your business is not related to anything regulated by the federal government, virtually every business needs to have a permit or license of some sort. The type of permits required for your company’s operation will depend entirely on your state’s rules, the location of your business, and any additional government rules that apply.

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paid sick leave in Chicago, Arlington Heights business lawyersBusinesses in the Chicago area have had to power through many changes over the last couple of years. A newly passed city ordinance, which will require that most employers allow their employees to earn paid sick leave, has now been added to that list of changes. The following information can help you understand the legal framework and minimum requirements.

Earned Sick Pay Ordinance Employer Requirements

The ordinance, which goes into effect on July 1, 2017, requires that all Chicago employers provide at least some sort of earned sick pay program to their employees. At a minimum, workers should be able accrue five sick days per year at a rate of one earned hour per 40 hours worked, which can be used once they have completed a six-month probationary period with the company. Employees can "cash in" this time if they are ill, need to care for a sick child or elderly parent, or in the event of a domestic violence situation. If the time goes unused, at least 2.5 of the hours can be rolled over into the next year for their use.

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new employee requirements, Arlington Heights employment law attorneyWhether you are a natural-born entrepreneur and are finally getting your first business off the ground or simply want to try your hand at a business venture you have been plotting for some time, preparation begins long before you open your doors for business. Existing business owners and new employers alike must comply with a number of state and federal regulations when hiring new employees to ensure they are operating their business legally.

Hiring Compliance

New employers looking to bring new hires on board are especially susceptible to making errors, often because they are misinformed or are unclear on the proper legal requirements. Sadly, simple mistakes can lead to costly lawsuits, which is why it is so important that you follow all state and federal regulations when you decide to go into business.

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employing minors in illinois, arlington heights employment attorneyRegardless of the size of your business, if you are employing minors to fill various staff positions, it is important to make sure your company is abiding by the Illinois Child Labor Law. Failure to comply can result in the loss of business licenses, fines, and more. Young workers can be valuable assets to your workplace, but neglecting to follow the most basic Illinois Child Labor Law guidelines can hurt your business.

Certificate Requirements and Restrictions on Work Hours

Employers must meet certain requirements when employing minors, according to the Illinois Department of Labor. First, any employer hiring a teen under the age of 16 is prohibited to employ the minor without a valid work permit or employment certificate. These certificates can be obtained from the child’s school and must be presented before they begin working on your premises. You are to provide them with a "letter of intent to hire," which they should take to their school to have signed and evaluated with a parent or guardian.

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independent contractors in illinois, Arlington Heights business lawyerAmong the many responsibilities you have as a business owner, protecting your business and its best interests is perhaps one of the most crucial. Ensuring the staff you hire adheres to your policies and standards is critical because the livelihood of your business depends on it, as does your reputation. As a business owner who chooses to work with independent contractors, you are especially at risk for financial loss and headache if you do not handle the legal aspects of your relationship with those contractors correctly.

Why Working with an Independent Contractor Poses Certain Risks

Employers can run into costly fees because of overdue Federal and state income taxes when they work with independent contractors. This stems from confusing independent contractors with employees, also known as the "misclassification of employees."

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employment policies in Illinois, Arlington Heights business lawyerEmployee handbooks that establish the groundwork and boundaries for your staff are critical, whether you are a new business owner or have been in business for many years. If you have been an employer for some time now, it is always wise to review your current policies and handbooks periodically to ensure your guidelines are current and relevant to reflect your most recent business practices. If you are just beginning a new business venture, the policies you put in place now will set the tone for your work environment and the relationship you share with your employees now and in the future.

Why the Details Matter

Without thorough, detailed guidelines that outline what is expected of your employees, your business runs the risk of serious liability when it comes to termination and the hiring process. Not only do you need to spell out the responsibilities you require of your staff and the expectations you have for them in terms of their performance, but you also need to be very clear on the behaviors and actions that are not acceptable and why.

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employee termination in Illinois, Arlington Heights business lawyersEmployee termination is never an easy task, even when the grounds for firing are legitimate and indisputable. Letting a team member go can stir up a number of mixed feelings amongst your staff and can prove to be difficult for the person being terminated as well as the management team involved in the termination process.

Although conflict is inevitable in the workplace, as an employer it is important to reduce tension and prevent any problems before they arise whenever possible. Being prepared and knowledgeable about proper business etiquette and legal requirements can go a long way when you are given no choice but to let someone go.

Employment-at-Will

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overtime pay guidelines in illinois, Arlington Heights business lawyersIn the realm of business law defense, pay laws are a hot topic. Whether you operate an Illinois business, or are an employee and want to make sure you are following state law procedures for overtime hours, it is important to familiarize yourself with the basics to ensure your practices are legal, fair, and that they are in line with your best interests.

Exemptions

First, let us take a look at exemptions. Certain workers and organizations are free from tax obligations or liability. In the case of overtime hours, Illinois laws consider the following employees to be exempt from being paid overtime:

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ADA Guidelines, business owners, Arlington Heights business lawyerIn 1990, the U.S. Congress passed a historic bill into law that would forever change business: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law effectively enforces the civil rights and needs of people with disabilities. Before this law passed, horror stories existed of inaccessible mobility for those bound to wheelchairs. Unfortunately, some people were forced to get out of their wheelchairs and crawl up stairs to school houses and courtrooms. Buses also used to be inaccessible because there were no lifts available. Furthermore, grocery shopping was nearly impossible without someone tagging along to assist, as shelves were stocked to the ceiling. 

Since the passing of the ADA laws, life has become a bit easier for disabled customers and employees, and business owners are often happy to comply with ADA guidelines. However, sometimes new businesses may not realize the extent of the Americans with Disabilities Act policies and have trouble conforming.

Basics of ADA Laws

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