Liability is a burden that no one wants to bear as it is mostly associated with pain, inconvenience, and loss. For businesses, liability often implies lawsuits which might lead to a host of issues including serious financial and reputation damage.
Therefore, the potential for liability needs to be addressed immediately and effectively to avoid these potential problems. A liability, simply put, is the outcome of a poorly managed risk.
One of the potential liabilities that a business faces is employee liability. Even though a lot of employees mean well, there are cases where you might find yourself facing a lawsuit from an employee. This article will discuss the various steps you should take to minimize employee liability.
1. Hiring the Right People, the Right Way
Recruiting the right individuals will help you avoid disciplining or discharging bad hires. Getting the right employees starts with using the correct recruitment sources and paperwork. Therefore, ensure that you use legally compliant application forms as well as the proper forms for conducting reference and background checks that have accurate position description. This could save you major trouble later on.
2. Communicate Your Policies
Employers should put their policies in writing. An employee handbook is the best way of compiling all of your policies. Additionally, you could also occasionally use stand-alone memos to highlight or clarify specific policies. Properly drafted employee handbooks and memos can help carve out your rights and serve as a shield in the event of employment law claims.
For instance, if you have a strict policy against alcohol or substance use, highlight this in the handbook. This will absolve you from liability in case an employee suffers a workplace-related accident.
3. Pay Your Employees Correctly
Federal and state hour and wage laws apply to every employer. Additionally, employee lawsuits for violation of these laws are on the rise. The burden of proving compliance lies with you as the employer. The costs of litigating these cases could easily break your bank. Thus, to avoid trouble with the law, make sure that you pay your workers in compliance with the necessary laws.
4. Address Staff Complains
An employee will typically first complain to their employer before they file lawsuits, charges, or other claims. Therefore, ensure that you have a specific procedure that is well-publicised which your employees use to express their complaints without fear. An employer who does not adopt such internal systems is likely to witness higher incidences of union activity, EEOC charges, and other legal claims.
5. Train Your Decision Makers
These include your managers and supervisors. And since they act as agents of their employer, you are going to be liable if they violate employee rights and other applicable laws. Additionally, violations include both actions and inactions such as failing to recognize a situation that could have potential legal consequences. Therefore, ensure that your managers and other decision-makers are adequately trained on how to handle situations. And because the laws are constantly changing or being updated, it is imperative that this training is continuous.
6. Give Objective Goals
Objective measures are the most efficient way of assessing job performance. As such, you should let your workers know what you expect of them from an objective perspective. This will make the performance evaluation easier while ensuring that you can quickly and legally defend your position in the event you decide to terminate an employee.
7. Employ Progressive Discipline Without Promising It
The goal of discipline is to rehabilitate an underperforming worker. The best type of discipline is progressive discipline where you communicate your desire to see them improve and giving them time to do it. However, you should never promise to deliver progressive discipline. This is because, in a scenario where termination is the only solution, you might be sued for breach of contract.
Additionally, before you decide to terminate a worker, look at the situation from their perspective. You should only do it if you are certain it is the right thing to do.
8. Prepare to Get Sued
Despite all your efforts, some employees are just more inclined to be litigious than others. This means you should seek legal and HR counsel to ensure that your decisions are in order. It might cost you a bit but will help you avoid significantly higher costs.
As an employer, you are susceptible to being sued by former or current employees. Therefore, it is imperative that you actively work towards minimizing your liability. Employ the above tips to reduce your employee liability.