Clinicians often ask about business and employment law in their particular state and what is required. Similar to NP practice acts, this can vary greatly from state to state. Thus, it’s always prudent to check your state practice acts of both the BON and the BOM if you are tied to a physician; the corporate business regulations for your state as well as state department of labor and potentially any state regulations. Your state regulations are often an extension and more specific than the federal regulations.
That said, let’s talk about three of the areas pertaining to employment law you will want to keep up on.
Federal regulations that you’ll want to keep up with include: Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which includes minimum wage and overtime rulings; Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) which sets standards and regulations for workplace safety and safeguards that employers must meet; Worker’s Compensation; Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)….just to name a few!
Additionally, you are required to have several posters posted in your business having to do with job safety and health protection, equal employment opportunity, FLSA, FMLA, Uniformed service employment and reemployment rights act and many more. Not having the appropriate posters put you at risk for fines. How do you know which posters you need?
It’s not difficult to unintentionally put yourself at risk for discrimination when hiring someone. Casual conversation often leads to questions about family and children. These are no-no’s when it comes to the hiring process. Other areas to avoid discussion include: race, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, disability, age and military service or military affiliation, bankruptcy, genetic information or citizenship status. Once you have offered them a position, you will need some of this information, but asking it prior to that leaves you open for potential discrimination. Keep in mind that your state may include other areas for potential discrimination such as gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, medical condition and more.
Independent Contractor: Whether you are an IC or you are thinking of “hiring” an IC – be sure you are versed in the definition and be able to meet the criteria. This is a grey area at best and if in doubt, talk with an IRS agent or an attorney for further clarification. At the very least, an IC must have a business license and conduct themselves as if they are a business (tax ID number, file appropriate business taxes, take appropriate deductions as a business, etc). If you as the employer are directing them in how they do their work, then you’ve probably got an employee, not an independent contractor. You’ll want to read the IRS definition as well as look for further clarification from you state. Often the department of labor will have specific information available for you.
This is just a short list of the various requirements and potential pitfalls that employers are faced with on a regular basis. What issues have you run across? Share your comments below.
Barbara C. Phillips, NP, FAANP is a professional speaker, author, clinician and business owner who provides business education, resources and support to Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants and other Advance Practice Clinicians — both for the employed and self-employed clinician. Additional information about Ms. Phillips is available at www.BarbaraCPhillips.com.