If you work for a large organization, you most likely have a highly competent legal department who advises you on matters related to your department’s products and services as well as your personnel situations. If you work for a smaller company, you may not have access to your own internal legal counsel. Companies without internal legal counsel need to pay attention and recognize when they should consult with an outside attorney. It could cost you dearly if you don’t seek out proper legal advice. This article focuses on situations when you should consider contacting an employment lawyer.
Developing Employment Packets
- An employment lawyer can review your employment packets to ensure that your documents are legal, current, and accurate. Since employment laws change on a regular basis and may be different from state to state, you should receive annual legal guidance on your employment packets to help avoid unnecessary legal issues with your employees / ex-employees.
Employee / Company Handbooks
- Many businesses create their own employee / company handbooks. It is important to have a qualified employment lawyer review your handbook each year as laws often change. Your employment lawyer will provide you guidance so that your company remains in compliance. The lawyer will either make the modifications for you for a fee, or, they will direct you to the sections where you can make the changes on your own. If you do make the changes on your own, you should have your employment lawyer review it one last time before finalizing the handbook and sharing it with your organization.
- How often have you contacted an employment lawyer to discuss one of your top performers? It happens but more often than not, you are seeking guidance on a personnel issue with a less than stellar performer. If you are considering placing an associate on a performance warning, gather all of the relevant facts and organize a meeting with your employment lawyer. They will need to understand:
- The specifics of the situation
- Company policy / expectation
- Prior communication of the policy to the employee in question and to all other employees
- Documentation showing proof that the employee was aware of the policy
- Training activities to attempt to improve performance
- Lack of improvement despite all efforts.
- The employment lawyer will provide suggestions on your next steps with the associate including reviewing the warning performance document.
- In the event that termination is necessary, your employment lawyer will reconfirm if you have followed proper protocol and have acted in the best interest of all parties involved.
Creating Incentive and Recognition Programs
- Typically you will work with your executive team as well as your compensations and benefits department when creating a company incentive and recognition program for your associates. In order to create a program the right way, please be sure to consult with legal early on in the process. An attorney can help steer you in the proper legal direction that will be acceptable by all within the organization.
Job Changes / Promotions / Lay Offs
- Your employment lawyer will be with you for the good times and the bad times. If your company is looking to make global job changes, please consult with your attorney first before communicating with your team. Similarly, if you are promoting someone for a non-posted position, you may want to understand all of the pros, cons, and ramifications before you proceed. Your attorney can help you do that. There are times when unfortunately a company may need to lay off a few workers. This is when the employment lawyer should be on your speed dial. You need to have regular meetings with your lawyer regarding the reason for the lay off and review who you are considering to lay off. Your employment attorney will need to ask you several detailed questions about each person being considered. While the questions may seem unnecessary to you or possibly intrusive, they are extremely crucial. The attorney is looking out not only for the associate but for you as a company.
Appeals / Requests for Information
- When an employer receives a formal request from the state or the court regarding a current / ex associate, contact your employment lawyer immediately. The employment lawyer can pinpoint exactly the nature of the request, identify what is needed, and provide your organization with a solid game plan on how to proceed.
- An employment lawyer can also remind you of mandatory training sessions for your managers and other workers. Your employment lawyer may even offer to conduct the sessions with your leadership team at your office. In some instances, your attorney may take this as an opportunity to update you on the new laws and test your ability to communicate it to others.
I have been fortunate to find and work with exceptional employment lawyers while employed in small companies and larger organizations. I have always found them to be collaborative and offer unbiased sound legal advice. If you don’t have employment legal counsel and you have employees, I strongly encourage you to make the investment today. It is well worth it and you will be grateful in the end. Should you need help with finding an employment lawyer, feel free to contact Rua, Inc. for assistance.