Current trends and legislation affecting small business.
Now that the Americans with Disabilities Act has become law, companies should start thinking aboutjob descriptions. Once the employment section of the act takes effect (in July 1992 for firms with 25 or more employees; in 1994 for those with 15 to 24 workers), it will be illegal to discriminate against disabled job candidates who can perform the essential functions of a job given "reasonable accommodations." If an employer's decision not to hire is contested, a previously written job description can be important evidence, says John Satagaj of the Small Business Legislative Council.
Is your welcome mat out? Eastern Bloc executives want to tag along with U.S. managers and learn how to turn a profit. The SBA is recruiting small businesses to act as hosts for budding capitalists from the Budapest International Management Center's Young Manager Program. Expecting CEOs to foot a six-week T&E bill doesn't worry SBA officials, but it sounds unrealistic to Corey Rosen of the Oakland, Calif., National Center for Employee Ownership. His research shows his member companies are up for three-day visits. "We are applying for grant money to fund longer stays."
A small Maine firm is marketing an unusual way for companies to tacklehealth-care costs. Under Progress Sharing Co.'s "health wealth" plan, a company lowers its premium by raising the deductible and the employees' coinsured portion of initial costs. To sweeten the plan for employees, the employer contributes some of the savings, which employees match, to a mutual fund and life insurance plan in the workers' names. The pitch? If employees get sick, their savings will cover all or part of their costs, and if they don't, they are that much ahead. After testing the concept in Maine for three years, Progress Sharing hopes to go national.
Corporate America is still full of would-be entrepreneurs, a new surveysuggests. In a survey of 200 Fortune 1,000 vice-presidents and personnel directors conducted by Accountemps, one-third said that if the average executive had adequate start-up capital and could be self-employed tomorrow, he or she would leave the company.
A network of 50 law firms is starting a clearinghouse to track state action affecting businesses. For $875 annually, businesses can subscribe to the service of National Resource Center for State Laws and Regulations, in Raleigh, N.C. Why now? "Today the states are where the action is," says a center spokesman. The center claims that the number of bills introduced in Congress has declined by more than 60% since 1968, while those introduced in states have increased by more than 60%; in addition, states are three times more likely to enact bills than Congress is.