Small Employers Face Numbers Game on Employment Law

Posted by Tom Jones on Apr 30, 2013 12:36:00 PM

Small employers in Massachusetts are well advised to keep their eyes on the numbers 1, 6, 15, 20 and 50. No, it’s not the winning combination for this week’s Powerball, but rather the numbers game for complying with the multiple employment laws that kick in when a company grows its work force to certain levels.

Small businessAIM regularly updates and publishes its reference guide on small business compliance to help small employers cope with an increasingly complex maze of laws and regulations. So here are a few of the more important numbers, taken from the new edition of the small-business reference guide due to be published later this month:


Many laws apply to an employer as soon as the company hires one employee. Among them: workers compensation, unemployment insurance, immigration and the federal and state wage and hour laws.


Massachusetts employers with six or more employees are subject to the state’s anti-discrimination laws and the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination (MCAD). That includes the requirement to have a sexual harassment policy issued to all new employees at the time of hire and to all employees annually.


All employers with 15 or more employees are subject to the federal Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The civil rights act is similar to the Massachusetts anti-discrimination law, providing legal protections to individuals based on their protected-class status, which includes categories such as race, sex, religion, and national origin.  The ADA prohibits discrimination against employees and applicants based on disability, perceived disability and having a record of disability.


Two key federal laws kick-in when an employer has 20 or more employees. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires an employer to offer each separating employee who is on its health insurance the opportunity to continue coverage at the employee’s expense for up to 18 months. The other law, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act offers legal protections to all employees 40 years old and older.


Several key laws cover all employers with 50 or more employees. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers job-protected leaves of absence to eligible employees in certain circumstances. The Massachusetts Small Necessities Leave Act (SNLA) provides eligible employees up to three days of leave to participate in a variety of family related activities.

Fifty employees will also be the magic number for many companies under federal health care reform.

Employers with 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent (FTE) employees that do not offer affordable health insurance that provides a minimum level of coverage to their full-time employees may be subject to a shared responsibility payment if at least one of their full-time employees receives a premium tax credit in an Affordable Insurance Exchange, or Marketplace. For the purposes of these provisions, a full-time employee is one who is employed an average of at least 30 hours per week.

And those are just a few of the federal and state laws that may impact your business. Many come with significant penalties for non-compliance so it is vital that you remain abreast of new developments. You otherwise risk forgetting to post a required poster, to issue a required policy or to follow a prescribed practice.

 If you would like more details about the small business reference guide and the myriad of other applicable laws, please contact AIM through our website or at 1-617-262-1180.

Topics: Small Business, Employment Law, Human Resources

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