Innumerable laws and regulations, from the federal to state and local governments, control the operation of your business. Failure to comply with these rules could spell serious legal problems for your company in the form of fines, penalties, litigation, and even criminal proceedings. Conducting routine legal audits is essential to the well-being of your organization. An experienced attorney can review your business, advise you as to any compliance issues, and help correct them before they become legal headaches. That’s where the Business & Corporate Law team of SederLaw comes in.
The Advantages of a Legal Audit
Many industries, including healthcare, finance, and technology, are highly regulated by various government entities. It’s easy for a business, especially a large one, to lose track and run afoul of all the laws and regulations. This is especially the case if there is no dedicated individual or department within the company whose role is to keep tabs on the ever-changing regulatory and legal environment. An audit takes a comprehensive look at how your organization operates, from top to bottom, to uncover and fix any problems.
But legal audits are not just for corporations, large businesses, and businesses subject to intense regulation and oversight. Companies of all sizes have to comply with tax, employment, labor, wage and hour, and other laws and regulations. Local ordinances are also sometimes passed with little notice from the business community, but these too could result in legal trouble if they are ignored. The bottom line is that no matter which industry you are in, or what size your business is, compliance is a necessity. A legal audit aims at ensuring this need is met.
Audits can help avoid unnecessary penalties, fines, and increased regulatory scrutiny. They can yield additional benefits which may not be readily identifiable. For example, an audit could reveal a previously unnoticed liability – a lawsuit waiting to happen – which can then effectively be extinguished. It can also determine whether existing policies and procedures are effective and legally sufficient; if they are not, they can be addressed accordingly.
Common Audit Areas
Because every business and industry is different, so too is every legal audit. An audit can therefore be tailored to meet the specific needs of your business. Our firm can implement an audit which closely examines the following matters, among others:
- Employment law: This area covers the hiring and firing of employees and everything in between. Prescreening and background checks, offer letters, employment contracts, non-compete agreements, and onboarding requirements will all be reviewed. So too will issues related to workplace harassment, discrimination, privacy, drug testing, performance review and discipline, and more.
- Policies and procedures: As a related matter, we want to know the policies and procedures your company has in place to determine if they accomplish what the law requires and whether they work. For instance, are these rules enforced? Do they address sensitive issues like those listed in the employment law section above? Can they be improved to better limit your company’s liability exposure?
- Workplace safety: Depending on your industry, such as construction, this could be a focal point of the audit. Your workplace must comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules, plus state and local safety laws and regulations. We will examine inspection reports, employee complaints, and other records, plus how your business operates, to identify and remedy problems.
- Wage and hour: A wage and hour audit will evaluate whether your business complies with minimum wage and overtime laws, including where state or local laws offer stronger employee protections than those provided by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. We will also look at paycheck deductions, timing and method of payments, pay statements and record-keeping requirements, minimum wage and overtime exemptions, and making sure independent contractors are correctly classified as such.
- Tax law: There are a multitude of tax rules that every business must follow. Payroll tax, corporate tax, and withholding rules only scratch the surface. Running afoul of the IRS and state taxing authority could invite trouble. But these problems are avoidable. As part of this audit, we will take a look at your tax filings, financial records, and other documents to ensure there are no irregularities or reporting issues.
Audit Services We Offer
Audits are serious, and correctly performing them is critical to the legal health of your business. When a client retains us to perform a legal audit, we take these steps, among others:
- Notice of mandatory audits: Audits are sometimes mandatory depending on the industry, sector, location, and size of the business, along with other factors. We advise clients whether compliance and audit programs must be implemented.
- Information included in audits: To correctly perform an audit, a business must gather certain documents such as financial records, tax returns, filings, policies and procedures, and more. We help clients understand what and why these documents are needed, and we help collect and organize them.
- Creating audit and compliance programs: At this stage, we develop a systematic audit and compliance strategy that is aimed at risk mitigation and ensuring all relevant compliance issues are handled. If your company already has these programs, we may recommend modifications.
- Testing: We subject your company to a test of its existing, modified, or newly created audit and compliance programs. Our objective is to identify practical and legal shortcomings in the programs so we can advise your business on how to modify them.
- Implementation and training: Once the audit and compliance programs are developed, and modified if necessary, we help clients put them into practice. That includes training key employees who are responsible for overseeing these programs.
Contact Our Worcester Legal Audits Attorney
The regulatory demands of every industry are different. A healthcare provider, for instance, won’t have the same compliance concerns as a bank. At the same time, some areas – like tax law – cut across all industries. No matter what type of business you have, we will develop a customized, comprehensive legal audit that will give you and your organization the peace of mind you deserve. To learn more, connect with SederLaw’s Business & Corporate Law team today.