Along the road to owning your own business there are many chuckholes, not the least of which is dealing with government agency regulations.
Familiarization with those regulations and keeping abreast of any changes will make owning a business easier and contact with those agencies a more pleasant experience, according to Richard Messenger, assistant director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage-Hour Division in Salt Lake City."If I was going into business today I would look in the telephone directory and find out all of the government agencies that might have regulations affecting my business. Then I would call them all and get information on what is required of a business," said Messenger.
"Then, periodically, I would contact the agencies to see if the regulations have been amended. That way I know how to meet the regulations," he said.
Messenger's advice is directed to all businesses and anyone who has thoughts of starting a business.
Unfortunately, the advice probably has come a little late for Dell Hollingshead, owner of Arshel's Cafe in Beaver, who has been investigated for possible violation of the child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Hollingshead called the Deseret News after contact with one of Messenger's compliance officers, Winifred M. Wilson. Hollingshead wants someone to warn other business owners of the problems they face if they don't comply with state and federal employment regulations.
Arshel's Cafe has been a family business for many years and he took over the operation a few years ago from his mother. He admits that sometimes when he received letters from government agencies he turned them over to his accountant without reading them.
About five week ago, Wilson went to Arshel's and asked Hollingshead if he received a letter about supplying some employment records. He gave the letter to his accountant, but wondered why the federal government was interested in his operation since he didn't gross $362,500 annually, a requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
His curiosity was enhanced because annually he receives a State Industrial Commission order outlining wages, hours and employment standards for women and minors in retail trade, public housekeeping, laundry, cleaning, dyeing, pressing and restaurants.
"Just who has jurisdiction over me?" he wondered.
Wilson told Hollingshead she was investigating an industrial accident report relating to one of his 14-year-old employees who cut her finger. Hollingshead said the girl was instructed not to use a slicer, but she was aiding a fellow employee.
Hollingshead said Wilson told him he fell under federal guidelines because of the interstate commerce provision of the law since he accepted credit cards from out-of-state people and many items he used in the restaurant were sold in interstate commerce.
Three weeks ago, Hollingshead received a letter from Wilson stating he was in violation of the child labor standards by employing 14-year-olds after 7 p.m. on school days and after 9 p.m. on non-school days. The outcome of the case will depend on the penalty imposed by Wage-Hour officials, but Hollingshead can appeal any decision.
The bottom line for Hollingshead is to tell others to become familiar with all government agencies and their guidelines.