Employees are the face of your company. They are the heart and soul that bring your business to life. Sometimes they are your greatest resource and other times, the biggest pain in the behind. An Employment Attorney can help create guidelines, a code of conduct, and a company policy to prevent a lawsuit from being filed and they can also defend you if you do end up in litigation.
An employee handbook is like having insurance to protect your company from worker complaints and legal conflicts. When you have your behavioral expectations, dress codes, methods of reproach, mobile device parameters, benefits, payment information, grounds for termination, and a list of employee responsibilities written out, your defense is that much stronger if a worker happens to violate your business rules. Depending on your type of business, you may also want to include that if an employee is terminated, he or she cannot work for a competitor, they cannot share trade secrets and client lists, and that ownership of the employee’s work product (software, books, recipes, etc.) belongs to the company and not the creator. It is better to cover all your bases than to duke it out later in a volatile court battle.
Another great preventative measure to ensuring more peaceful conflict management is the implementation of contracts. For example, you may be in an industry where finding or training a replacement will be very costly and time-consuming. A contract in the beginning of employment can lock the employee into a specific term (such as two years) or require the employee to give you a specific amount of time to train a suitable replacement (possibly 60 days). While you certainly can’t force someone to stay and work for you, an employee is likely to comply with the agreement’s terms if there’s a hefty penalty for not doing so.
If you are worried that you may have to fire an angry employee at some time in the future, you may want to create an “at-will” agreement. This means that you can terminate an employee at any time without good cause or for pretty much any reason (with the exception of job discrimination involving race, religion, or gender). Stating that you are an at-will company should appear in an employment application, an employment contract or offer letter that you ask your applicant to sign and return, or in an acknowledgment form in an employee handbook.
Employee and employer disputes are almost inevitable in the business world. The best way to prevent one is to spell out your expectations early on. An Employment Lawyer can explain both employer and employee rights and help you to make the best decision for both sides when forming your business guidelines.
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