Legal Tips to Observe When Hiring Staff

employment contractAs your business grows, you’re likely to be introduced to new challenges and clients. You may try to tackle everything that comes with growth single handed, but it’s next to impossible to do so on your own. When hiring new employees, you should keep in mind the legal issues that can arise and how they can affect your business.

Avoiding legal claims is as important for your business as earning profits is. Litigation procedures are expensive and time consuming. In order to avoid them, observe the following:

1.  Proper Advertisement. It is quite interesting to note that during the last few years, there has been a remarkable increase in the claims related to discrimination practices during hiring. While the success of these claims is a separate issue, getting your job advertisement right is an important thing to consider.

Many would consider this irrelevant, but they would be surprised to find that claims have construed requirements in job postings like ‘mature employee’ or ‘someone with at least 8 years of experience’ as age discrimination. There are also cases where employers specify the hours in which the applicant should work. This can translate to a sex discrimination claim because it may disadvantage women who have childcare responsibilities.

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There are times where such requirements are justified and lawful, but you must be careful with your phrasing. A specialized searching tool like the Mysearchresults toolbar, which aggregates data from major search engines, may turn out to be a good option in this case.  With this tool, you can look at job listings that use fair wording without dealing with all the annoying and crowded data on normal browsers. Stay updated with the latest legislation regarding discrimination acts so that you will be aware of any changes before you are penalized for breaking a new law without realizing it.

2.  A solid employee contract. Once an employee has become a member of your organization, setting out the terms of employment is the next big step. As per law, this should be done within the first two months of hiring the employee.

The terms can range from being generic to specific entitlements. You should remember to add confidentiality and intellectual property clauses as per your business. If your contract doesn’t have a restrictive covenant, the employee can leave your business and poach your customers without any illegal measure.

3.  Working out the policy. Businesses should design a staff handbook to ensure that all terms and conditions are laid out clearly. These are regulations that are tailor-made for your business and something the employees should abide by. In many cases where employees have been fired for just reasons, the employee can still succeed with an unfair dismissal claim because of a lack of staff handbook. Having a well-drafted handbook not only adds value to your business, but also serves as a legal deterrent.

4.  Know the law. While you may not be a legal expert, you can develop a basic understanding on legal issues related to employee hiring. For instance, in general cases, employees can use the unfair dismissal claims only after they have been employed for a period of two years.

That being said, anti-discrimination laws are applicable at any stage. So remember that if you have concerns regarding an employee’s future in the company, it would be far more difficult to terminate them after a two-year period has elapsed.

5.  Performance indicators. By laying down your key performance indicators from the get-go, your employees would know what is expected of them. This has a two-tier benefit:

  • -  It enables you to increase the overall performance of your workforce.
  • -  The performance chart provides you with legal evidence against an unfair dismissal claim.

These tips would increase the productivity of your business and help reduce the risk of any unnecessary litigation.

MORE: Failure to Rehire Temp After Injury Could Raise Costs

Sara Stringer
Sara is a former medical and surgical assistant who now does freelance business consulting. She enjoys blogging about her many career paths and helping others find their own direction.

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