Mistake #1 – The Employee Handbook
First, you should have one! Employees need to know the general policies of the organization so that they have a baseline to follow on expectations as an employee. The Handbook should be general in nature and specific where it is needed. It should be fluid and reviewed when there are changes to employment laws or your culture warrants a change. Make sure that you have an Employment At-Will statement in the Handbook that everyone understands. All Handbooks should have an Acknowledgement of Receipt Form at the end of the Handbook for employees to sign and return. You must follow-up with those employees who do not sign and return the Acknowledgement. You never know when you will need it in the future should there be an issue regarding a specific policy or action and you want to be able to produce the Acknowledgement that the employee read and understood what was in the Handbook.
Mistake #2 – Hiring Decisions
Understand what will make a candidate successful in the position by asking the hiring manager what they are looking for not only in knowledge and skills, but also the abilities that the candidates should display for success. Utilizing behavioral based questions will help you to ascertain if the candidate has the abilities to do the job – such as attention to detail. Make sure the hiring managers are skilled in asking the right questions and avoiding those pesky discriminatory related questions that could get you in trouble. All interview questions should be only job-related. Will you check the candidate’s background? Will you drug test? Are you administering any pre-employment testing? You need to make sure that the candidates know they will be asked to partake in such testing and that you have a proper release form for the background check and the drug test.
Mistake #3 – Misclassifying Employees
This is where many mistakes can happen in Human Resources. You need to decide whether your employee is considered exempt or non-exempt. Exempt means they are not eligible for overtime and non-exempt means they are. You need to follow the Fair Labor Standards Act Tests in order to determine how to classify the employee and which test you should use – Executive, Administrative, Learned Professional, Computer or Sales. Keep in mind that some states, such as Connecticut, have their own wage and hour regulations to follow. Another area to watch is the Independent Contractor classification. In order to have a true Independent Contractor, the candidate must pass the 11-point test issued by the IRS. Misclassifying these types of individuals could be very costly to your organization.
Mistake # 4 – Employee Files
Connecticut has the CT Personnel Files Act that applies to all Business stating that an employee may inspect their own file by sending a written request. The employer has 7 days to respond and to set up a meeting to allow the employee to view their file. The employee files should have all documents used by an employer to determine employee eligibility for employment, promotion, additional compensation, transfer, termination, disciplinary or other adverse personnel action, including evaluations or reports relating to character, credit or work habits in the personnel file. Any files pertaining to employee’s medical instances must be filed in a separate file in a separate drawer, away from the employee’s Personnel File. This also includes election forms for medical and dental insurance. Additionally, all I-9 Forms should be filed in alphabetical order in a separate notebook that is readily available, should an investigator come on premises and ask for the I-9’s to review.
Mistake #5 – Terminating Employees
Connecticut has an Employment At-Will Doctrine allowing either the employer or the employee to terminate employment at any time for any reason. Yes, but it isn’t that simple. Know the rules for an involuntary termination as it pertains to paying the employee. All employees who are involuntarily terminated must receive all monies due them within 24 business hours of their termination date. Make sure that you follow your own progressive disciplinary policy and that you have a statement in your policy that says you can skip any of the steps at the sole discretion of management. When you provide an employee with a disciplinary action, make sure that you get them to sign the paperwork and also provide them a space for a rebuttal against the action.
Mistake #6 – Regulatory Compliance
First, you must understand all of the laws that pertain to your workplace. Laws are specific to the number of employees you have in your organization. Connecticut has 23 specific laws that are followed versus following just the Federal Laws. Many times, more than one law covers a specific situation in the workplace. You should understand FMLA, COBRA, ADA, and CT Paid Sick Leave before administering any termination or disciplinary action.
KardasLarson is always ready to help your organization in any of these areas to maintain a risk-free environment against any regulatory compliance issues. If you would like additional information on any of the above brief comments, please feel free to contact KardasLarson.