Current Issues in Business Law
Now that we are well into 2017, it’s a good time to take stock and consider what trends in business law we can expect to be important moving forward. The truth is that many people have been mindful of these trends for quite some time now, but it’s anticipated that these will continue to be areas of concern. As we anticipate policy changes with a new administration, it is a good time to simply be aware of potential areas of concern and possibly consult an attorney who specializes in business law if any of these topics touch on your business.
As more major corporations have faced security breaches in recent years, cybersecurity continues to be a major area of concern. Recently, McDonald’s Twitter account was hacked, the WannaCry ransomware case is still breaking, and President Trump signed an executive order making the heads of particular governmental agencies responsible for their own IT security.
With these issues making headlines in recent weeks, it seems fair to assume that cybersecurity will continue to be an area of concern for many businesses and private individual. Recent changes to China’s cybersecurity regulations are expected to negatively affect American companies that do business in China.
Although Trump’s recent executive order places responsibility for cybersecurity on the heads of governmental agencies, these agencies remain an area of concern. In years past, major corporations have been the nexus of identity theft via security breaches, but it may be governmental agencies and even small businesses that are most at risk currently. If you own or run a small business, consider how you process payments and handle sensitive personal information. It may be worthwhile to take out liability insurance against security breaches. You want to cover yourself against potential claims that could come from customers, should your business experience a security breach.
As more states legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, marijuana policies are a concern for some business owners, particularly landlords and other businesses that deal with residential properties. Legislation is changing quickly and drastically in some states, and any business concerned with managing or owning residential properties would do well to stay on top of recent developments that may affect them.
Aging Baby Boomers
It’s estimated that about a quarter of the population of the United States is made up of Baby Boomers, those individuals born between 1946 and 1964. With a significant portion of the population reaching retirement or even dying, a number of legal issues are likely to come up.
Baby Boomers have been policy makers and business successes who have significantly affected our society, both economically and politically. As more Boomers step away from positions of power, the question becomes who or what will fill that void? Do we expect to see a quite transfer of power and assets? It’s not unlikely that a number of legal disputes could arise from this transition, some of them from families but many of them related to businesses. Executives, as well as their legal representatives, should be considering this societal change that’s already taking place. Consulting an attorney like Suzzanne Uhland is a good strategy to help plan for a smooth transition.
Climate change continues to be a hot button political issue and, as such, a number of changing policies connected to climate change will affect many businesses. Policy changes, such as those expected to accompany a new administration, can mean new strictures for businesses.
Relatively new practices, like fracking, that affect or are perceived to affect the environment are also likely to bring a host of new legal and liability concerns.
Another business trend that has legal ramifications is the increase in the use of on-demand workers. Often, these individuals are also referred to as contract workers or freelancers. Hiring on-demand workers has many benefits for employers, including the financial benefits that go along with not having to pay for benefits. Another perk for employers and companies is the ability to hire a specialist for a particular project but not having the burden of finding something else for the specialist to do once the specific project is over.
However, using on-demand workers creates some legal questions for employers. Recently Uber and Lyft, both companies that rely heavily on on-demand or contract workers, have faced legal disputes about the company’s responsibility for the workers’ behaviors. Some interest groups are concerned about the on-demand workers being exploited. Because they are not hired as employees, on-demand workers are not entitled to the same legal rights as employees are in the United States.
What Should Businesses Do?
As the economy and business landscape shift, business owners and executives would do well to educate themselves about how changes, especially legislation and policy changes, might affect their businesses. Certainly, consulting with your business attorney just to know where things stand is a good idea. Even a simple consultation may be enough to avoid legal problems in the future and protect your assets now.