Thursday, September 15, 2016

5 upcoming changes-laws-trends that will impact YOUR small business

We will have more updates as these issues progress, but here are five things to keep an eye on. Chances are, at least one of these will impact YOUR Washington small business. 

  1. New US Department of Labor overtime rule: Changes to overtime pay exemption effective December 1, 2016
  2. City of Spokane Earned Safe and Sick Leave Ordinance
  3. WA State ballot initiatives: Increase minimum wage starting in 2017
  4. Cybersecurity and small business
  5. Washington State Driver's License - REAL ID non-compliant

1. New US Department of Labor overtime rule: Changes to overtime pay exemption effective December 1, 2016

Think your salaried
employees are exempt?
Better make sure.
Effective December 1, 2016 exemptions from Federal minimum wages rules may increase the number of your employees eligible for overtime pay rates.

What changes on December first is the limit on when exempt position are eligible for overtime pay. The annual wages limit will double from $23,660 to $47,476.

Any employee positions classified as exempt should be reviewed and reclassified to non-exempt and thus will be eligible of overtime pay.

Job positions that are already eligible for overtime pay are not affected. 


2. City of Spokane Earned Safe and Sick Leave Ordinance

The City of Spokane passed a Safe and Sick Leave ordinance that goes into effect January 2, 2017. Any business in the Spokane city limits is impacted:
Are you ready for
flu season?

  • Beginning on January 1, 2017, employees of companies which have fewer than 10 employees can use 24 hours of paid sick and safe leave in a year. 
  • Employees of companies which have 10 or more employees can use 40 hours of paid sick and safe leave in a year. 
  • Employers can allow employees to use more, however, depending upon company policy. 
  • Employers can accrue this time on a fiscal year or calendar year basis.

The earned sick and safe leave ordinance will be in effect for all employers in Spokane beginning on January 1, 2017.

In addition, new business start-ups will have one year from receiving their first City business license to come into compliance with the law. For example, if a new business starts up on June 1, 2017, that business would have until May 31, 2018 to start providing sick and safe leave to their employees.

3. WA State Initiative 1433 would increase the state minimum wage to $13.50 by 2020

This initiative is not just for King County. This state-wide ballot measure would gradually increase minimum wage starting in 2017 and also require employer paid sick leave.

4. Cybersecurity and Small Business

Security threats are happening every day for America's small businesses. Business owners must be aware of threats to customer data and to its IT infrastructure. Cyber attacks cost small businesses BILLIONS of dollars each year. A small company is at more risk than a larger corporation.  

Congress has moved forward with a Small Business Cyber Security Improvement Act of 2016  which would enable the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) to work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to assist small businesses in planning for and protecting against cyber security attacks.  In addition, WA State has passed cybersecurity legislation.

The Spokane SBDC intern research team has developed a three-part workshop for small business owners to learn more. Workshops will be held September 28, October 6 and 13th.

Workshop series: Recognize Threats - Restrict Access - Risk Management. For more information or to register, click here. Event is Co-sponsored by: Women’s Business Center INW and Whitworth University, Dornsife Center.

Read more in the FCC free download: 10 Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses.

5. Washington State Driver's License - REAL ID non-comp

This may be more of a personal inconvenience rather than a major business concern, but it is something to keep in mind if  you have employees that are flying or conducting operations on military bases.

According to a Fox Q13 press release
"More than two dozen states and territories aren’t in compliance with a 2005 federal law that requires state driver’s licenses and ID cards to have security enhancements and be issued to people who can prove they’re legally in the United States. Eventually, Washington residents who only have standard licenses will need additional ID in order to board commercial aircraft. Already, they are no longer able to use their standard state driver’s licenses as identification to get a visitor’s pass onto Joint Base Lewis-McChord or the Yakima Training Center."

Conclusion: Planning matters.

The more you know about upcoming legislation and recent laws that have passed, the more prepared you will be in running your business. If you have a business in the City of Spokane or have exempt employees, you are at risk of non-compliance and monetary fines if you are not aware of recent changes. Some larger companies have already started making changes; Boeing announced September 14th that it is changing OT rules for 80,000 workers.

Managing risks is more than just preparing for a natural disaster or off-season. As a small business owner, it is one of your most important functions. Staying on top of crucial legislation, national laws, state initiatives and trends can at least help you prepare and plan ahead. 

Your SBDC advisor can help if you need to learn about why cybersecurity is a serious concern, plan out a budget to estimate salary increases or develop a personnel manual or job descriptions.