There are many legal requirements that small businesses must comply with to operate within state and federal regulations. Both internal and external compliance requirements are important to maintaining a legal operation, as well as a successful business. From tax obligations to employment rights, it’s important for you to know the small business laws that apply to your organization. Initial And Ongoing Filing Requirements When you start a business, you will have to file necessary documents with your state government and register with the federal government. This ensures you are complying with state tax departments, the IRS, and other government agencies. State Filing Requirements Every state has filing requirements that small businesses must meet. However, the specific actions you must take will vary depending on your location. Some of the common filing requirements you should be aware of include: Annual reporting or biennial statements Statement filing fees Franchise and quarterly taxes Initial incorporation reports Updated Articles of Amendment State licensing, permits, and certificates Federal Filing Requirements The federal government also has filing requirements for small businesses. If you fail to meet any of these mandatory filings, you may face significant penalties or other fees. Federal filing requirements include: Annual or quarterly taxes Health coverage reporting (per the Affordable Care Act) Federal licenses, permits, and certificates Reporting of income, social security, and Medicare taxes Small business registration documents Other Legal Compliance Requirements For Small Businesses There are an array of state and federal laws and regulations that must be complied with to maintain a legal business operation in the United States. Failure to do so can jeopardize your entire company. Workplace Health and Safety Laws The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all businesses with more than 10 employees keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses. Injuries that are not minor must be reported in a timely manner. Businesses that operate in certain industries have specific health and safety laws that they must comply with, as well. Those include providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees, maintaining a safe and/or ergonomic working environment, and ensuring employees have enough training to safely operate equipment. If you have a small business in a high-risk industry, such as construction or healthcare, you should be aware of those laws that are specific to your organization. Workplace Poster Laws Employees have rights in the workplace, and the federal government requires employers to publicly post certain information about those rights. Some workplace posters that may be required include: Employee Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Federal Minimum Wage Notifications Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law (OSHA) Employee Rights and Responsibilities Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Know Your Rights Pay Transparency Nondiscrimination Provisions Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act Notice (MSPA) Employee Rights for Workers with Disabilities Paid at Special Minimum Wage Employee Polygraph Protection Act Notice (EPPA) Your Rights Under USERRA Employee Rights Under the H-2A Program Some of these posters are required only in certain industries or at specific locations for small business operations. Legal Compliance With The Americans With Disabilities Act The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Title I of the ADA applies to small businesses with 15 or more employees, and Title III covers businesses and nonprofits that provide goods and services directly to the public. The most prominent requirement of the ADA is that businesses must make “reasonable accommodations” to assist people with disabilities. Compliance with this law may include: ADA-friendly policies about job accommodations, performance expectations, and disability-related leave of absences Adjustments to standard operating procedures Allowing mobility devices and service animals at work Adjusting methods of communication with clients and customers Removing physical barriers to existing structures when possible Failure to make reasonable accommodations when financially feasible can result in fines from the state and federal governments. In fact, individual employees can also sue a small business for discrimination and recover for discrimination they have faced. State And Federal Discrimination Laws Anti-discrimination laws must be complied with diligently. If employees, potential hires, or customers feel discrimination is present, your business could face fines, lawsuits, or significant backlash from the public. Federal laws prohibit discrimination based on certain classes or characteristics, including: National origin Race and color Religion Disability Sex Familial status Many states have expanded these classes to include pregnancy (listed under sex and/or disability), gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, military status, and more. Marketing And Advertising Compliance For Businesses State and federal governments have regulations regarding the way businesses market and advertise their goods and services. Truth-in-advertising standards are upheld by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which prohibits deception by businesses. Some requirements for marketing and advertising include: Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive There must be evidence to back up claims for goods and services Advertising cannot be unfair States also have additional consumer protection laws that ensure businesses do not present false statements to the public. Even industry-specific ethics agencies have requirements for advertising of goods and services. For example, the American Bar Association prohibits the use of “expert” or “specialist” in legal marketing, unless a lawyer has taken topic-specific tests and become certified in a subject area. Federal Compliance With Copyright And Trademark Laws The U.S. Copyright Office and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office require businesses to register artistic works like writings, songs, and images, as well as logos and slogans. Failure to state ownership of creative content can result in loss of unique use by a business. There are many documents that must be filed to get a copyright or trademark established. However, it is worthwhile to comply with these laws so that you can maintain your exclusivity over your subject matter. State And Local Licenses, Permits, And Certifications Many states, cities, and counties require businesses to obtain licenses, permits, and certifications to operate. Depending on the goods or services you will be providing, this process may be complicated. For example, most restaurants must routinely renew health and safety certificates. This often requires inspections by a local health department, as well as training for all employees who handle food. Failure to meet these requirements can result in your food business being shut down. Establishments that sell tobacco, alcohol, and CBD or marijuana products are highly regulated. Oftentimes, they must be located a certain distance away from schools and daycares. They must obtain initial licenses and renew those at least annually. Professional services like nursing, electrical, and plumbing require certification from third-party boards to keep licenses. Individual employees must also comply with educational and training requirements. When you open a small business in a specific industry, you should be aware of the state and local agencies and boards that you will have to deal with. Employment Business Regulations And Labor Laws There are state and federal labor laws that small businesses must comply with, as well. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) outlines how businesses must treat employees, including setting a federal minimum wage. However, many states have set a higher minimum wage that must be paid. Labor laws and regulations made by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensure employees have a safe working environment that is free from danger and hazards. Workplaces in certain industries are regularly inspected by OSHA representatives to determine compliance. Other employment regulations include requirements regarding employee benefits, employment of non-citizens, equal opportunity practices, union interactions, and more. Maintain Legal Compliance With Your Small Business Once you have a good understanding of the local, state, and federal laws you must comply with as a small business, you should consider starting your organization or expanding with a small business loan from Lendio. We can help you meet your ongoing financial and legal needs. Apply for a small business loan with Lendio.