Small business owners have to wear many hats – accountants, marketing, and human resources to name a few. With the variety of employment law claims out there, it is important for small business owners to be aware of potential pitfalls with employment law issues. Here are a few things to consider in handling human resources at your business.
The first potential trouble spot for small businesses is in interviewing and hiring. It can be difficult to know what questions are acceptable in an interview. Generally, you cannot ask questions about a person’s race, religion, marital or family status. It may be obvious that a candidate is pregnant, for example, but you should not raise the topic during an interview. It could open you up to potential claims of discrimination in hiring. It may be natural to ask a person about their family or personal life, but it can open a proverbial can of worms for potential employers. Stay focused on the job for which you are hiring and the key qualifications for that job.
Many employers wish to have employee policies in place to cover situations like leave, vacation, discipline, etc. Keep in mind that some courts have found that an employee handbook creates a contract between the employer and employee. It may be a good idea to standardize policies in something like a manual, but you should consider having an attorney review the handbook to make sure it does not create obligations you did not intend.
Despite the most careful of hiring practices, sometimes the employment relationship simply does not work out. In most states, employment is considered “at will,” meaning an employer can terminate the employee at any time and for virtually any reason. You cannot fire an employee for a reason that is illegal, such as race, religion, or gender. If you are concerned that a terminated employee may bring a claim against your company, consider contacting an attorney before you terminate the employee. The lawyer can help you craft a separation plan and agreement that will maintain a professional relationship between you and the terminated employee and protect you from frivolous claims.
Small Business Lawyers
Attorney Aaron Hall can assist you with all your small business needs, from entity formation to human resource policies.