Every now and then, it’s worth it for even the most seasoned HR professional to receive a reminder about best practices in the workplace. Ensuring compliance with our Top Ten Tips list below, will help to keep your workplace running smoothly.
1. Ensure that all employees sign employment agreements which clarify potential problematic issues up front, such as entitlements on termination.
2. If your workplace has any concerns about protecting company confidential information or intellectual property, ensure that all employees have also signed some form of Confidential Information and Intellectual Property Agreement (“IP Agreement”).
3. Remember that employment agreements and IP Agreements must be signed on or before an employee’s start date. If that doesn’t happen, then the employee should be provided with some sort of consideration for signing (eg. a signing bonus; a promotion and salary increase), and the consideration should be specifically referenced in the agreement(s).
4. Remember that the law is ever-changing and a good employment agreement template one year will not necessarily be legally compliant the next year. An annual legal review of your employment agreement templates will provide a significant cost savings to your business in the long run.
5. If it is important to your business that restrictive covenants be entered into, ensure that non-competition covenants are not used where non-solicitation and confidentiality covenants would suffice to protect the workplace. In addition, ensure that the covenants are sufficiently narrowly drafted in terms of duration and jurisdiction so that they will be upheld by the courts.
6. Provide employees with at least several days to consider any employment agreements that they are being asked to sign, so that they may obtain legal advice if they wish.
7. Ensure that your workplace is up-to-date and compliant with all of its statutory obligations. In Ontario for example, that includes ensuring that all employees have undertaken mandatory Workers and/or Supervisors Health & Safety Awareness Training, ensuring compliance with the Access to Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), ensuring compliance with the Pay Equity Act if applicable, and ensuring that your workplace has posted all required Employment Standards Act (2000) posters and all required Occupational Health & Safety Act posters and policies.
8. In the event of employee disability issues, consider obtaining legal advice to help you to properly assess and monitor the situation, so that both your workplace and the employee are protected and treated fairly.
9. In the event that an employee must be terminated, ensure that they are provided with reasonable notice in accordance with the applicable statute, any applicable employment agreement, or the common law. Do not seek a release unless the employee has been offered something more than that which they are entitled to. Ensure that benefits and vacation pay continue to accrue through the statutory notice period, and ensure that the Record of Employment is properly completed and submitted in a timely manner.
10. Don’t hesitate to seek legal advice. Oftentimes, the biggest problems can be made much smaller if legal counsel is contacted a reasonable period of time before a potentially problematic action is taken.