Finding the right person for a job can be tricky. You have to go through resumes, interviews, offer letters, the process can go on and on. A thing most employers don’t realize, is that they can be making costly mistakes from the first step: the job advertisement. A simple paragraph or two written by an employer can open a whole can of legal worms. Here are a few steps to take to make sure your job advertisement isn’t really looking for trouble.
While there may be no state or federal law requiring an employer to have a handbook, there are a number or reasons why they are in an employer’s best interest.
- Usefulness. It is beneficial for there to be one definitive source on the terms of employment. If an employee ever has a question as to what is acceptable or not, they know where to turn.
- Communication. An employee handbook gives an employer the opportunity to speak clearly on important issues. Handbooks can be a podium for employers to speak out against issues like sexual harassment, workplace violence, bullying, or drug use.
- Clarity. Employee handbooks create consistency and uniformity in an environment where many people may be involved in the management process. Uniformly enforcing policies cuts down on discrimination claims by ensuring that all employees are treated equally.
- Protection. In the case of a trial, jurors have been found to favor companies that have clearly communicated and enforced company policies – even if the employee didn’t follow them. The fact that the employer has communicated their disapproval shows an act of good faith.
A job worth doing is worth doing well
A handbook isn’t necessarily a get out of jail free card. Like any tool, if you don’t use your handbook properly it can end up hurting you.
- Keep your employee handbook up-to-date. If your polices are outdated, they may prove inaccurate and useless. Say you have a policy that only prohibits talking on a cell phone while driving, but doesn’t mention texting. An employee has the right to assume that behavior is permissible, and you might be found at fault if an accident occurs.
- Be sure to avoid promissory language. If your handbook discusses specific timelines, creates expectations of benefits, or doesn’t clearly outline that employment is at-will, courts can find that it acts as a binding contract.
- Don’t make the handbook into an encyclopedia. Outlining how employees should file for unemployment benefits or workers’ compensation claims can do more harm to your business than good. Avoid discussing any internal practices, and just stick to the rules and regulations your employees need to know about.
Where to start
While there are any number of policies an employer can chose to include in their handbook, there are a few that are must haves.
- Introduction to the handbook/at-will employment statement
- Equal employment opportunity policy
- Harassment policy
- Family and medical leave policy
- Conduct policy
- Acknowledgment form
It seems like not that long ago “technology in the workplace” referred to fax machines and floppy discs, but things certainly have changed in the last 10 years. Smart phones, email, and wireless networks have revolutionized the way business is being done, but with these advances in technology come a whole new set of problems . . .
Interviews are a key part of the hiring process, but asking the wrong questions can land you in hot water with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Interviews give employers the opportunity to get a feel for an applicant, and they give the applicant a chance to showcase traits that aren’t easily expressed on a résumé. While many employers know the areas they need to cover in the interview (experience, salary, company culture for example), they might not know there are several topics that should be avoided. Seemingly innocent questions, or even natural conversation, may lead an applicant to reveal information about themselves that could open employers up for discrimination claims. Here are a few examples of questions employers should avoid during interviews:
As an HR professional you are no stranger to paperwork. It seems that for every employment action – applying, interviewing, hiring, disciplining, on and on – there is a specific form that needs to be filled out. Making sure you complete the paperwork properly is only half the battle though. Once you finish completing a form, you are faced with a whole new issue: what to do with it. Being the smarty that you are, you know that proper documentation is key in protecting your company in the unfortunate case of a lawsuit, but knowing what needs to be kept where and for how long and who can see it can be kind of tricky. Let’s take a minute to go over the basics.