Many new entrepreneurs feel prepared for anything when they first open their business, but as they quickly find out, maintaining a workforce requires precise knowledge and expertise if the business is to thrive and stay in the good graces of various government labor agencies. Below are three key areas of labor policy that young companies should master if they hope to someday become old companies.


A wide range of federal and state laws establish what information is and is not allowed to be discussed during an employment interview as well as information that employers cannot consider when making hiring decisions. For example, employers are not allowed to hire a candidate (or not hire a candidate) because of their religious preference or age, nor can they ask about a candidate’s marital or family status in an interview. It’s crucial for young companies to figure out the intricacies of hiring and develop hiring policies of their own as soon as possible.

Wages and Hours

Failing to comply with policies governing wages and hours can expose employers to serious liability. In these cases, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so make sure that you follow federal guidelines—including those established by the Fair Labor Standards Act—as well as any state laws that stipulate additional requirements or conditions. California, for example, imposes laws of its own regarding wages and hours that can lead to serious repercussions if employers either  ignore or improperly follow them.

Common areas of concern include failure to observe minimum wage laws; incorrectly classifying employees as exempt or non-exempt from overtime laws; not permitting required breaks; and more.


Learning the policies that determine how and why an employee can be fired is like untangling a never-ending knot, but it’s essential to guarantee that you don’t run afoul of the law. Even when it comes to firing at-will employees, employers must be careful that they do not terminate employees on the basis of their membership in a protected class—such as gender, race, religious preference, and so on—in retaliation for claims of sexual harassment or discrimination, for absenteeism stemming from service on a jury or in the military, and other potential reasons.

Employers should craft disciplinary policies that explain what actions are grounds for dismissal so that expectations and responsibilities are clear. In the event of violations, managers should leave a written record of the infraction in the relevant employee’s personnel file. This will leave an important paper trail in the event that the employee is eventually fired as the result of poor performance or policy violations.

These laws may be complicated, but new entrepreneurs don’t need to figure them out entirely on their own. If you have questions about how these guidelines or other areas of labor relations, then Koppekin Consulting, Inc. can help. Contact me at or by visiting my website.