Where to look for help with state/lo­cal laws, reg­u­la­tions

Times Standard (Eureka) - - BUSINESS - By Joyce M. Rosen­berg

With state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments fre­quently adding laws, or­di­nances and reg­u­la­tions, small busi­ness own­ers likely will find it hard or im­pos­si­ble to keep track of all the re­quire­ments they must meet in the course of run­ning their com­pa­nies.

Whether they’re em­ploy­ers, do­ing con­struc­tion or are in­volved in highly reg­u­lated work like run­ning a restau­rant, own­ers should con­sider get­ting help from con­sul­tants or pro­fes­sion­als like lawyers or ac­coun­tants, es­pe­cially since they may also have to com­ply with fed­eral statutes or rules.

Get­ting ad­vice and guid­ance will head off prob­lems, even law­suits, down the road, says Scott Scheel, pres­i­dent of The Com­mer­cial Academy, a com­mer­cial and re­tail real es­tate owner and man­ager. He notes that com­pa­nies that vi­o­late zon­ing or­di­nances or other build­ing codes can be forced to rip apart or de­mol­ish the work they’ve done.

“Be sure what you’re looking to do is per­mit­ted,” Scheel says.

Some places where own­ers can get help:

La­bor laws

Hu­man re­sources con­sul­tants or providers and em­ploy­ment law at­tor­neys are re­sources for own­ers who want to be sure they are in com­pli­ance with all la­bor laws, or­di­nances and reg­u­la­tions. Own­ers whose com­pa­nies are in highly reg­u­lated in­dus­tries — for ex­am­ple, man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties that must com­ply with many Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion rules — should con­sider a con­sul­tant or at­tor­ney with ex­per­tise in that area.

Paid leave

HR con­sul­tants and pay­roll com­pa­nies can help busi­nesses with the cal­cu­la­tion and re­port­ing re­quire­ments for paid sick and fam­ily leave time in states and lo­cal­i­ties where these ben­e­fits are man­dated by law. They can also help with re­port­ing re­quire­ments for the Af­ford­able Care Act.

Con­struc­tion

Own­ers should con­sider hir­ing con­sul­tants or pro­ject man­agers who can over­see work and be sure that lo­cal zon­ing and build­ing or­di­nances are com­plied with. State and lo­cal plan­ning boards and build­ing de­part­ments can also be a re­source, Scheel says.

Lo­cal of­fi­cials can also guide com­pa­nies about com­pli­ance with laws and or­di­nances that aim to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment. These can be an is­sue dur­ing con­struc­tion projects.

Restau­rants

Lo­cal health de­part­ments are re­sources for find­ing out the re­quire­ments for han­dling and stor­ing food, and how kitchens are to be built. When it comes to choos­ing stoves and re­frig­er­a­tors, Scheel also rec­om­mends kitchen sup­ply com­pa­nies. They should know how lo­cal rules ap­ply to their equip­ment.

Re­tail­ers and other pub­lic space op­er­a­tors

Lo­cal build­ing and con­sumer af­fairs of­fices can be re­sources about oc­cu­pancy rates, hours of op­er­a­tion, noise lev­els and other is­sues that can arise when peo­ple as­sem­ble in a pub­lic space.

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