Whether you’re a small business of 3 people, or a large business of 3,000, your employees remain your largest asset. That’s why employer-employee law is so vital to the success and overall growth of an organization. Not only is it difficult to find good staff members, but the measures it takes to entice and train them consume a great deal of capital. Thus, while many of the employer-employee regulations are designed to protect the latter part of this relationship, it’s important that employers take the legal precautions to protect themselves.
Before an individual even technically becomes an employee, he/she is protected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Created as a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC helps to shield people from discrimination in the workplace. Typically, only companies with 15 or more employees fall under its jurisdiction, but if you’re planning on growing, it’s better to model your standards to their level of compliance. During the job interview, you’re restricted in what questions you can directly ask applicants. Seemingly innocuous questions like, “Where are you from?” or “Do you have any children?” can get you into big trouble. Because these questions don’t directly relate to job performance and may influence the hiring process based on demographic information, asking them puts you in danger of legal recourse. If your company is large enough to have a human resource team, then this falls under their domain. However, as a small or growing company, your HR department may not be as developed as you like, which is where legal advisors come into play. We can help you draft appropriate interview questions and even uniform follow-up procedures.
Once you’ve gotten through the interview (as both an employer and an employee), the next step is the official employee contract. This contains key information, such as basic job expectations, employee rights, and non-compete clauses. The last piece protects your investment as an employer. After all, the last thing you want after putting all the time and money into training a new employee is for them to leave and take all of company’s key information to a competitor. Contracts can change depending on the job and/or level of position. For example, you wouldn’t have the same provisions in place for an entry-level administrator as you would for a chief executive officer. The individual in question doesn’t even have to technically be an employee in order for a contract to be utilized. Independent contractor relationships can benefit from a formal, written agreement in advance of any goods, services, or payments actually being exchanged. While the employee contract isn’t mandatory for all situations, it does eliminate many questions and legal issues that can arise later on. To learn more about them and how they can benefit you, check out this brief overview: http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/employment-law-and-human-resources/pros-and-cons-of-written-employee-contracts.html. Since the contract is a formal legal agreement, using a blanket template you found online isn’t necessarily the best course of action.
Then, there are all of the other official employment materials, such as an employee handbook, leave request forms, policies for liberal leave and FMLA. Again, if you have an experienced HR and/or legal department, your company should be able to handle most of this in-house. As a developing business without these resources, it’s best to consult an attorney and head off a lot of the problems that can come from not having clear expectations outlined. Unfortunately, many of these processes aren’t a one-and-done matter. As administrations change, so do employer-employee regulations. Over the past year, we’ve seen a massive shift in the legal and political perspectives on business. Just look at these articles comparing concerns from 2016: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/top-10-2016-challenges.aspx. To 2017: https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/human-resources/2017/09/9-employment-law-issues-you-need-to-watch.html. Not only are paid leave policies changing, but you also have minimum wage laws, healthcare requirements, and immigrant employee questions to consider. Simply monitoring the many mandates placed upon employers, both big and small, is a full-time job.
As business owners ourselves, we understand the many demands placed upon your time. It’s simply not possible for you to become an expert on everything pertaining to running a business. That’s where we come in. Allow The Law Offices of Kirk Halpin & Associates, P.A. to function as your legal advisors on these human resource issues and save yourself much hassle (and potential court costs) in the long run.