Douglas B. Large, Partner
When was the last time your business evaluated, or audited, whether its current employment policies, practices and documents are in compliance with the myriad California workplace regulations? If you do not know the answer, or you do not know what an employment law audit is, such an audit is long overdue.
Your business needs all the protection it can muster in California’s overregulated, litigious climate. Although being bulletproof is impossible, an efficient and effective way to obtain maximum protection is by having an experienced employment law attorney spend a couple of hours at your business meeting, in confidence, with your operations management team, particularly your human resources/benefits and payroll personnel.
During that precious audit time, one initial issue is your company’s business structure and management/personnel structure. These should be quickly checked to ensure not only legal compliance, but whether more can be done to protect company assets. For example, does the form of your business entity(ies) limit personal liability to the extent possible?
Personnel hiring, training, and disciplinary procedures should be evaluated to ensure that best practices are being followed or are implemented. Wage and hour procedures and policies should be analyzed to confirm legal compliance and proper record keeping is occurring. Your business is extremely vulnerable if it has not properly classified its employees as exempt or non-exempt from overtime compensation. And, if exemptions are claimed, what specific exemption(s) applies for each exempt employee? Confidentiality and privacy issues should be examined to determine if your company’s intellectual property is adequately protected and employee rights are not being infringed by company policies. Does your business have policies restricting internet and/or social media use at work? For a variety of reasons, including to safeguard information, it should.
Finally, an integral part of this audit process will be an evaluation of your company’s employee handbook and the other numerous written policies, procedures and personnel related documents. These would include, among many others, your company’s employment application, privacy waivers for background checks, job offer letters, leaves of absence policies, performance evaluation forms, etc., etc. These many forms/documents need review (and likely updating) not just to meet minimum legal requirements, but to provide your business with superior protection.
As alluded to above, but what may not be appreciated, is that this employment law audit should be handled by legal counsel. The primary reason, of course, is to keep the results of the legal audit (and particularly any attorney recommendations) confidential as a privileged communication between client and counsel. This attorney/client process cannot insulate your business from past mistakes, but it can shield the attorney’s advice and get your business on a better course to weather the inevitable employment law storms every California business faces.
The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true when dealing with employment law issues. In short, get an employment law audit or the barbarians at the gate will get you.
Douglas B. Large, Partner
DISCLAIMER: This Advisor is one of a series of business, real estate, employment, estate planning and tax Advisors prepared by the attorneys at Buynak, Fauver, Archbald & Spray, LLP. This Advisor is not exhaustive, nor is it legal advice. You should discuss your particular situation with us or with your own attorney. Our legal representation is only undertaken through a written engagement letter and not by the distribution of this Advisor.