Employers: Taking the Next Big Step

Businesses often begin with one owner wearing many hats, but at some point, with success, comes the need to hire employees. If you are nearing that point, below is a list of things for you to be thinking about.  It is not meant to be overwhelming, and is honestly not as difficult as it seems. But like most things, preparation is key.

1. Set Up Income Tax Withholding.

Start by applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). An EIN is a number required by the IRS to report withholding taxes and other information. You can apply for an EIN here. After you have an EIN you can set up your Income Tax Withholding accounts. To learn more speak with an accountant or a tax attorney. 

2. Establish Recruiting and Hiring Practices that Minimize the Risk of a Lawsuit.

Fortunately, the laws of our country and the state of Michigan prohibit discriminating against certain classes of people in employment. Unfortunately, as a business owner the hiring decisions you make could put your business at risk whether you mean to or not.

You may have noticed a theme among my blog articles is planning ahead to reduce risk and liability. If you are being sued for discrimination in your hiring practices, it is to late.  Working with an attorney today is a low cost an efficient way of saving a major headache down the road.

Perhaps you are looking to pay someone minimum wage to do office work for you in the afternoons, the perfect part time job for a student, right? You advertise that you are looking for "A responsible high school student, proficient with Microsoft Office and quickbooks, and able to work part time after school three days a week." The problem with this ad is that you have potentially just exposed yourself to an age discrimination lawsuit.  Under both Federal Law and Michigan's Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act, it is illegal to discriminate based on age.  Even though your intentions were good using the language "high school student" is effectively discriminating based on age.

Similarly, there are questions that should ALWAYS be left off a job application.  Questions asking for a photograph or asking about religion, marital status, or numerous other topics can only serve to open the door for a lawsuit.  Do yourself a favor and do your research regarding discrimination, or save yourself the time and talk to an expert.

3.     Prepare an Employment Handbook.

It does not matter if you have one employee or two hundred, creating a rock solid employment handbook is the most important thing you can do to protect your business from employment related issues.

The employment handbook can be used to clarify every piece of the employment relationship.

One of the most important sections of an employment handbook deals with is the nature of employment.  Is the position at will, meaning you may fire your employee at any time and for any reason, or do you have to have good cause to fire them?  Most employers want employees to be at will, but this should always be confirmed in the employment handbook, and language such as "one year contract" should be avoided.

Another topic that may be be of interest to you as an employer is how you should handle employees that have a Medical Marijuana Registry Cards.  Your employment handbook should expressly lay out a drug policy, that includes information about medical marijuana.  

There are too many sections that should appear in an employee handbook for me to touch on in one blog article.  But topics that should be in your employment handbook include:

a. Salary and Benefits

b. Non-Disclosure Agreements

c. Non-Compete Agreements

d. Non Discrimination and Workplace Harassment Policies

e. Consensual Relationship Policy

f. Internet Usage Policy

g. Social Media Policy 

h. Attendance Policy

i. leaves of absence

and many more...

Once again, do your research ahead of time or contact an attorney to help prepare your employment handbook.

4. Workplace Posters

As an employer both the Federal government and the State of Michigan require you to post specific employment posters around the work place. You may be required to post:

  1. Federal Minimum Wage Poster
  2. Equal Opportunity Employment Poster
  3. Employee Polygraph Protection Notice
  4. Michigan UIA Poster 
  5. Michigan Discrimination Prohibited Poster
  6. Michigan MIOSHA posters


As always, this is general information. I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer, at least not yet.  THis list is not exhaustive, but I would love to have an individualized conversation about what your business needs and how I can help.  A blog post should not be construed as specific legal advice and this blog does not in any way create an attorney-client relationship.