Knowing how to effectively create, use, and maintain employment-related documents is one of the most important skills for a manager or human resources professional to learn. Mastering this skill means that you will be able to better manage employee attendance and performance, respond to a federal or state agency investigation or audit, and defend against potential litigation.
Here are our “top five” tips for effective record keeping for employers:
- Use employment applications to prevent litigation by asking whether the applicant has ever signed a non-compete, non-solicitation, confidentiality, or other agreement with a restrictive covenant. You can also use the application to establish the at-will relationship and shorten the time period in which the applicant may bring certain claims.
- Job descriptions should be accurate, frequently reviewed, and used. Among other things, job descriptions can be used to determine whether an employee is exempt under federal and state wage and hour laws, evaluate a request for an accommodation under federal and state disability statutes, set and adjust compensation, objectively evaluate employee performance, and establish staffing needs.
- Train managers to honestly and objectively evaluate employee performance. Consistent documentation of performance discussions and discipline can help defend against an employee’s discrimination or retaliation claim down the road. It can also help successive supervisors understand and manage an employee’s performance.
- Use the Department of Labor’s FMLA forms on time, every time. Failure to comply with the notice, documentation and record keeping requirements of the FMLA can lead to liability and employee abuse of FMLA leave. In contrast, by utilizing medical certification and fitness-for-duty certifications, employers can effectively deter employees from abusing the FMLA.
- Have a record keeping policy that establishes where employment-related records will be kept (not everything goes in the personnel file!), who will maintain those records, who will have access to those records, and when records will be destroyed.
Contributed by Dave Cessante, Partner, Clark Hill Labor & Employment Practice Group.