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Top Regulatory Concerns for Small Businesses in 2015

Review the top regulatory concerns for small businesses in 2015. Get details on regulations from Fresh Insights.

As you plan your business strategies for 2015, it would be wise to take into consideration regulatory issues that could affect small businesses in the upcoming year. Here are five regulatory items to keep an eye on this year:

1. The Affordable Care Act — The ACA’s shared responsibility provision — which requires businesses with at least 50 full-time employees or the equivalent to offer full-time employees and their dependants minimum essential healthcare coverage — becomes effective either this year or next year for certain sized business.

If your business employs 100 or more full-time employees or the equivalent, you must offer qualifying healthcare coverage to at least 70 percent of full-time employees this year and 95 percent of full-time employees in 2016 or pay a penalty. If your business employs between 50 and 99 full-time employees or the equivalent, you must offer qualifying healthcare coverage starting in 2016 or pay a penalty. If your business employs fewer than 50 full-time employees or the equivalent, you are not subject to the shared responsibility provision.
Note, however, that the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a lawsuit this year that challenges the legality of ACA tax credits in states that have not established their own health insurance marketplaces. If the Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, some experts say the very foundation of the ACA could crumble.

2. Minimum wage increases — Raising the minimum wage has become both an economic and political issue. To help combat income inequality, some politicians would like to raise the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, while many low-wage workers are protesting to raise it to as high as $15 an hour. On the flip side, some other politicians and economists believe that raising the minimum wage will result in fewer low-wage jobs being created and higher business costs that will be passed on to consumers via higher prices.

Both sides can point to studies and data that support their arguments. Meanwhile, some cities have increased the minimum wage locally — for example, citizens in Seattle voted last June to gradually raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. It remains to be seen whether or not politicians in Washington can agree to an increase in the federal minimum wage.

3. EMV — To improve the security of customers’ credit card data, the U.S. government and credit card companies are in the process of migrating our payment system infrastructure to a new global standard called EMV, which stands for Europay, MasterCard® and Visa®, the companies that originated the standard. EMV forms the foundation for a new type of microchip-based card technology that is more secure than the magnetic stripe technology currently in use.

If your business accepts credit and debit cards for payment, you should talk to your merchant card processor about upgrading your point-of-sale equipment so that it is capable of accepting the new EMV chip-embedded cards. Beginning this October, your business, not the card issuing bank, will be liable for fraudulent card transactions if you receive an EMV-enabled card but have not yet installed EMV-capable POS terminals.

4. Right-to-work laws — Many states and municipalities are considering passing so-called “right-to-work” laws that would make paying union dues voluntary in private sector businesses. Without such laws, employees can be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Right-to-work laws are already on the books in 24 states. After big Republican gains in the midterm elections, it’s anticipated that more states and cities could pass right-to-work laws this year.

5. Basel III — These banking regulations, which become effective beginning Jan. 1, 2015, place stricter standards on banks regarding how much capital and liquidity they must maintain. The Basel III regulations do not impact small businesses directly; however, some experts believe they could make small business credit more expensive and harder to obtain.

Be sure to monitor these and other regulatory developments throughout the year to gauge how they might impact your business.
For other helpful information on running your business, read more from Cadence Bank Fresh Insights.

This article is provided as a free service to you and is for general informational purposes only. Cadence Bank makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the content in the article. The article is not intended to provide legal, accounting or tax advice and should not be relied upon for such purposes.

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