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Q. Do the requirements of certain employment laws differ for emerging and small businesses?

A. Yes. Consider, for example, a situation where an employee asks to take time off from work to care for a close family member. Under the laws of the United States, employers are required by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) to provide employees with 12 weeks of unpaid leave to tend to family medical issues before giving away their jobs. New Jersey has a similar law, the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) that works in conjunction with the FMLA. However, employers with fewer than 50 employees are generally exempt from these laws.

Emerging and small businesses are similarly exempt from other Federal laws as well. For example, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives retirees and former employees, and their spouses and dependent children, the right to temporary continuation of health insurance at group rates. However, employers with fewer than 20 employees are generally exempt from the requirements of COBRA, although a New Jersey “mini-COBRA” law applies to fill much of the void in such situations. Also, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) requires employers to provide notice to employees of mass layoffs or plant closings. However, WARN only applies generally to employers with more than 100 workers.

All employers know that there are myriad laws that grant various protections to employees. Our society views these laws as essential, but recognizes that a certain number of them may place an undue burden on small and emerging businesses. It is crucial for all employers to understand all of the laws that govern the employer/employee relationship to guarantee both compliance and fiscal responsibility. For small and emerging businesses, this knowledge can help ensure continued growth and success.

David Sprong, a partner with the law firm of Becker Meisel of Livingston, NJ, focuses his practice on matters involving the employee/employer relationship. The information offered herein is for general informational purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and is presented without any representation or warranty whatsoever, including as to the accuracy or completeness of the information. No one should, or is entitled to, rely in any manner on any of the information contained herein. Parties seeking advice on a particular matter should consult with legal counsel familiar with their particular circumstances.

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