"I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care."
--- Lou Holtz
I found out long ago that to run a business, there are certain rules one must follow. I don't like many of them, but it is still a given that if the rules aren't followed, the business will suffer. Many of these rules are pressed upon us by local, state, and federal governments. I will cover a few of these that you should be aware of so we can all start the new year off right. But there are also some rules that have come about through tradition and folklore. Some of them are really just assumptions, but there are some we should still follow closely.
Three governing rules we should pay attention to in order to stay out of trouble were either tinkered with in the current US administration and/or the fines for non-compliance were stiffened. These will most likely carry over to the new administration, so we should all make sure we have them covered.
"The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions."
--- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
The first is the I-9 forms. These are the forms that every employee must fill out within three days of getting hired. In a nutshell, they are used to make sure illegal aliens are not being hired, at least not without the proper paperwork, which would then make them legal. If you go to the Department of Labor website and search for I-9, you will see that to be compliant, a business cannot even use WhiteOut to make corrections on the form. Fines start at around $3,000 just for not properly storing the I-9s and for filling them out incorrectly.
Another one is the new overtime rule that was supposed to go into effect last month but was blocked by a federal judge. Many believe that it still will happen, so be prepared. If you have anyone "exempt" or in supervisory positions making a salary, if they make below $47,476, you will have to pay them overtime for any hours worked over 40.
"I consider myself a law-abiding person. But I'm exhausted. I don't know where to put the bottles, newspapers, cans, and other stuff for garbage pickup outside my house. The rules are so thick you need someone from M.I.T. to explain them."
--- Bill O'Reilly
The third one is the mandatory sick leave law that is spreading across the country. Check with your state, but many are requiring employers to provide a set of hours, typically five days per year, of sick leave to all employees in addition to their vacation and other time off. Rumor is that Trump supports this action and will keep it at the state levels to decide.
"You are remembered for the rules you break."
--- Douglas MacArthur
Then there are the rules that came from somewhere, but not too many people know their origins. These are business rules that tell an organization what it can and cannot do. They are usually set in stone and never looked at again, which can be detrimental. For example a business rule that was set to provide a cure for a circumstance may actually harm the business today. "That's our policy," may need to be replaced with, "What can I do to make you happy?"
Policies, guidelines and procedures are needed to communicate the parameters that are expected to be followed for everyone to experience a successful outcome. But some of these may be outdated or limit team members on what they can do to satisfy a customer or complete a project. Begin 2017 by examining your business rules and see if many can be thrown out. Perhaps you may decide like one business owner did and get rid of all policies. He then placed at everyone's work station a plaque that said, "In All Things Use Common Sense."
"Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something."
--- Thomas A. Edison