If you own and operate a small business, you know that it can be time-consuming and stressful at times. Not least of the worries for many small business owners is the question of whether or not they are properly abiding by the myriad rules and regulations put forth by the federal and U.S. Virgin Islands government to ensure certain protections for employees.
But while much noise is made about the over-regulation of small businesses, in fact there are many ways in which companies are spared from excessive regulatory burdens. This is particularly true in the following areas:
- Health insurance: Amidst the debate surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and its impact on smaller businesses, the actual requirements have perhaps been underreported. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required to provide any healthcare coverage whatsoever. Moreover, companies with fewer than 25 employees that do provide insurance coverage may be eligible for a tax credit.
- OSHA requirements: In an ideal world, your business would never have to deal with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that oversees situations involving workplace accidents and injuries. However, smaller businesses can take some solace in the fact that penalties for an OSHA violation are cut by 60 percent for organizations with fewer than 25 employees—and eliminated altogether for those with fewer than 10.
- Workers’ compensation: Although OSHA is a federal agency, workers’ compensation policy is left up to the individual states and territories. As a result, there’s wide variance in how workers’ comp is handled. Generally, businesses with one or zero employees are exempt from paying for workers’ compensation insurance, but slightly larger businesses in some jurisdictions may also be exempt.
- Employment discrimination: Many people assume that employment discrimination laws are to be enforced universally, but this is not necessarily the case. In fact, businesses with fewer than 15 employees are exempt from abiding by the terms of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and nation of origin) and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
As should be clear by now, much of what determines the extent to which a small business is bound by regulations—or freed from them—is the number of employees on the payroll. Companies with a small handful, only one or even zero employees can often benefit from these exemptions.
However, it should also be clear that there is not much consistency from place to place (or from regulation to regulation) in terms of what qualifies a business for exemption and what does not. This is where the knowledge and experience of a skilled business attorney can be of assistance. A lawyer with an understanding of the rules and regulations can help you determine what your U.S. Virgin Islands business is and is not responsible for when it comes to matters like health insurance, OSHA oversight and other regulations.
BoltNagi is a widely respected and established business law firm serving clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.