“To save money many people rely on their payroll company for HR advice or they use online legal services rather than a lawyer. Unfortunately, a significant drawback to these ‘services’ is that you cannot get experienced legal advice. Each business is unique and no one but an experienced business lawyer can provide you will the ‘legal advice’ you need to tailor the right course of action for your situation.”
Keeping pace with Utah’s employer regulations can be a headache for small business owners. As a Utah employer, you are obligated to know and comply with all state and federal laws dealing with employees. Ignorance is not an excuse to get out of fines or penalties. Dana Ball has spent 20 years handling employment issues on both sides, employees and employers, which is a huge benefit to her small business clients.
Business owners can build goodwill and limit liability risk with: Hiring, Onboarding, Evaluating, and Terminating Employees. Every business is different and generic forms will set you up to fail when a claim is filed against you by an employee. It’s critical that the documents you use with employees (Employee Handbook, policies and contracts) are drafted specifically to your business, your management style and the particular circumstances. Dana Ball has affordable monthly subscription packages to help Utah employers navigate their human resource obligations. Protect your business and call us to get answers you need so you are not caught blindsided.
Prepare Ahead of Time. Once you have decided to hire a new employee, you should create specific parameters for the open position BEFORE you begin the hiring process! First, prepare a written job description. Then, determine whether the position should be classified as exempt or nonexempt from overtime pay requirements. Finally, you should set the salary range and benefits for the position.
Use the Same Job Application. The key to avoiding a discrimination claim is to use the same employment application and other pre-employment forms for all applicants for a particular position or job category.
Prepare for Interviews. Standardize the interview process to ensure consistency. Review the completed applications in advance of the interviews. Use the applications to assess skills and background and ask for clarification if needed. Ensure that each interviewer fully understands:
- the job duties and responsibilities;
- the essential functions of the job;
- the work an employee in the same position (or the departing employee in that position) actually does on a day-to-day basis;
- the legal risk associated with certain questions and disclosures; and
- company policies relevant to hiring, including its equal employment opportunity and nepotism.
Keep your on-boarding process organized and timely. With all the documentation required to bringing on a new employee, remember to have an attorney help you. Documentation of recruiting and hiring activities is often used as evidence during litigation in discrimination, negligent hiring, and other employment-related claims. Depending on the contents of the documentation, it can be useful in defending those claims. The employer’s documentation should cover and include:
- A written job description listing essential job requirements.
- All decisions made by the employer regarding applicants, including reasons for:
- selecting applicants to interview;
- rejecting specific applicants; and
- making an offer to an applicant.
We offer affordable monthly subscription plans for small businesses that include on-boarding documentation tailored to your business and management style.
Don’t let your workplace BE the next headline. Train your workforce about what is – and isn’t – acceptable in your office. Training does not cost money, it saves money! Given the daily headlines about bad workplace behavior, isn’t it time to really make training count? Given the ease with which workplace claims can be asserted, it makes better sense to implement truly mindful training and performance evaluations that goes to the core of preventing workplace behaviors that lead to claims in the first place. Most people think that employment discrimination and sexual harassment are not problems in Utah. Without the proper policies and procedures, however, and without proactively ensuring that harassment and discrimination do not occur, it can be a problem anywhere. Employment law is constantly under review by the government in response to the demands of both employers and employees. Training your people on their legal responsibilities is vital with today’s climate. We include several trainings as part of the packages we have for employers. Send us a message to incorporate the trainings Dana Ball will handle for your small business.
Evaluating Employees Performance
Make your HANDBOOK a tool, not a stumbling block! Ensure all policies and procedures governing employee performance are:
- Tailored to specific business needs and circumstances. Downloading forms online, using the forms offered by a payroll company, or using old and out-dated handbooks is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
- Clear. Use plain language and avoid legal jargon in employee handbooks and policies. Employees cannot follow rules they do not understand.
- Simple. Avoid excess detail. Numerous details create too many issues for argument. Simple policy language allows employers to exercise discretion.
- Reasonable. Use common sense when evaluating whether policies are fair. Fairness is a primary consideration for juries and judges evaluating legal claims brought by disgruntled employees.
- Realistic and relevant. Do not impose unrealistic or irrelevant expectations on employees. Employers should use common sense, and legal advice, to create functional and realistic policy expectations for their workforce.
- Accessible. You must provide employees with copies of written policies. Employers should be able to demonstrate employee receipt and acknowledgment of policies with an authorization signed by the employee. You should review policies with employees at a minimum once a year.
- Professional. Avoid excessively casual or overly friendly language in policies. An unprofessional tone may result in policies being taken less seriously by employees.
- Supported by a business purpose. Connect every policy and procedure to a legitimate business justification.
- Consistent with one another. Review employment policies as a whole to ensure they are consistent with one another.
- Current. Failure to comply with new or amended laws may create additional exposure for employee litigation.
- Consistent with at-will employment status. Disciplinary policies that allow for discipline only under specific circumstances or through progressively rigorous disciplinary steps may inadvertently modify at-will employment status.
- In line with contract requirements. Employee discipline involving employees working under an employment contract must be consistent with their contract terms. Review employment contracts for these employees before imposing discipline.
- Respectful of protected activity. Employers must not maintain policies that impose employee discipline for protected activities.
Dana Ball will customize your policies and procedures to fit your business needs and your management style to ensure legal compliance, so contact us today!
When An Employee Leaves
Ensure employees who resign submit resignation notice in writing. These documents can be helpful if an employee later disputes that his or her termination was voluntary. Document the reasons for the termination. If an employee is involuntarily terminated, document the reasons for the termination in an objective tone and ensure that there are sufficient supporting documents. To protect against theft of confidential and trade secret information, misuse of the employer’s systems, and other security breaches, employers should revoke the departing employee’s access to the employer’s systems, including: email, voicemail, passwords, and remote log-ins.
Ensure Employee Returns Employer Property and Records. Require the departing employee to return all employer property and records, such as: desktop or laptop computers; computer peripherals and accessories, such as external hard drives, speakers, fax; cell phones and other electronic communication devices; building key cards and passes; electronic key fobs; documents and files in any format, including electronic data; and corporate credit cards.
Assess Whether Termination Is Appropriate. In evaluating whether to terminate an employee, the employer should consider whether:
- Termination is the most appropriate course of action and in the best interests of the employer. For example, the employer may discover that the employee’s supervisor has a history of conflict and is the actual problem.
- The possible adverse publicity from the termination outweighs the consequences of continuing to employ the employee.
- The employer bears any responsibility for failing to appropriately prevent the conditions or address the circumstances that led to the termination proposal.
- The employer has given the employee an opportunity to address any problems that may have led to the termination proposal.
- The termination will adversely impact employee morale or employer credibility within the organization.
- In its treatment of the employee, the employer has properly documented and implement edits employment policies and procedures.
I worked with Dana Ball Legal to set up a small freelance business. The process was easy, efficient, and very affordable. It also gave me peace of mind working with a lawyer who had extensive knowledge of everything that needed to be done to start a new business. Now I can feel confident that my new business is set up properly and legally!”
Dana awesome to work with. She genuinely cares about you and your company.
I have been blown away by Dana and her team. Dana is personable and truly wants to help small business owners reach their full potential while ensuring they are legally set up and functioning. I have no idea how we would have started our small business this year without her counsel. She has been patient with me as I have made mistakes and she has gently guided me to resolve mistakes or learn from them. Additionally she has been intuitive about my needs and willing to adjust from her set course to better fit my needs. She has been worth every penny! And we will keep her as part of our business team for many years to come! Thanks Dana Ball!
Dana and her staff were fantastic to work with! We are currently out of the country, and Dana made herself available via video to explain all of the legal documents for our business. She was professional, detail oriented, and addressed all of our questions and concerns. I would recommend her to any small business looking to get started.
I was so grateful to work with such an amazing professional while starting up my new business. Dana personally took care of all my needs and answered the myriad of questions I had in a timely and professional manner. I have referred several of my friends to her and they have reported receiving the same quality of care. I am grateful to have such a trustworthy person as part of my professional team.
Had a great experience with them. Very professional at all times. I was impressed with how quickly they responded to my questions. They always made sure I was happy with my experience and very good at promptly getting back to me. I would highly recommend them to anyone.
I have been working with Dana and her team for a little over a year now and our experience has been top notch. She was rigorous in helping our Business, Seven Brothers Burgers, create a refined organization and structure in which we could operate effectively. I highly recommend Dana and her team to anyone looking for legal expertise.
My husband and I have been working with Dana for several months on starting our business and we will continue to use her through the complicated legal process we have before us. Her goal is to "let you know what you don't know" and avoid the legal pitfalls that can get a small business in trouble fast. Not only is she knowledgeable and straight forward but her pricing is flat fee so there are no surprises at billing. I recommend her to anyone who has a small business or who is looking to start one - the process is much easier with her expertise.
Dana Ball and her team are amazing! They are so knowledgeable and very easy to discuss items that tend to be stressful, when running a business. She really knows her stuff and will treat you and your staff with respect and professionalism. I would recommend her to anyone!
Dana was so incredibly helpful in answering all of my questions. I run a small design business and she was able to lay out everything I needed to make sure I was covered in every aspect of my business. Which I would have over-looked other wise. Dana and her whole staff is friendly and will treat you with respect. Thanks Dana Ball Legal Service!
Very happy with Dana's work and approach to our needs. Dana helped us with the formation of our company and generating key documents. She went beyond our expectations and took the time to explain in lay terms to our key employees.
Dana Ball is a great person to have on your professional team. She has been great to work with. Her knowledge and passion on protecting you and your business is worth the time in getting to know her.
I used Dana when I sold a business. She was easy to work with, very knowledgeable and I felt as though she was genuinely invested is getting the best outcome for me. In the future, I would look to her for any legal advice again without hesitation.
Dana Ball and her team did an excellent job putting together a contract for my company. They discussed contractual details with me that hadn't even crossed my mind. Dana made sure I understood what was in my contract and why it mattered. I would definitely recommend Dana Ball Legal Services.”
Dana and her team were excellent to work with, prepared appropriate documents and registered my Small Business within a week. Dana will be a great resource for my Business.
Dana gave me exactly what I needed for the agreed-upon price. No drama. Perfect experience.
Great service and fair pricing, will likely be using Dana again.
I highly recommend Dana. She wrote up some legal documents for my company and did an amazing job. She listened to my needs and made sure I was taken care of.
Dana patiently and efficiently walked me through the process of turning my hobby into a business. Her knowledge and guidance were beneficial in assuring that Highland Goldendoodles was ready to go from the start. I highly recommend Dana Ball!