It is well known that looking after your employees makes for a more stable company and feeds into greater growth, but there is much more to think about. The average employment litigation cost $88,000, and the average cost of contract litigation is $91,000, so it also makes great financial sense to go deeper into why you need to cover all your bases.
Employment matters are integral to the success and function of a business. With increasing federal and state laws, legal compliance is more difficult than ever. You need to focus your efforts on competing in the marketplace, not the nuances of endless laws and regulations.
Here are some short descriptions of the areas you should address to help you navigate regulations and implement the best policies for your business. Beyond compliance and policies, Henderson & Henderson law firm in Charleston SC will advise you on how to prevent employee disputes and avoid needless litigation.
Employment Law Services
These should explain the roles and responsibilities of employees and how the firm operates, and should include history, mission, vision and goals along with company policies and human resources information. The document should be used as a reference manual for procedures related to vacation days, calling in sick, maternity leave, and other benefits. In South Carolina, it creates a legally binding contract when: (1) the handbook provision and procedure in question apply to the employee, (2) it sets out procedures binding on the employer, and (3) it does not contain a conspicuous and appropriate disclaimer. Our Charleston law firm is equipped to provide you with a comprehensive and thorough employment handbook!
Employment Policy Drafting
Some companies might already have solid agreements but are just seeking revisions on certain areas. Our firm is equipped to revise sections of your employment handbook to match your requests. If you are seeking to develop new company policies, we can walk you through the content process and advise steps for successful implementation. Clear, well-written employment policies are the cornerstones of companies, as you should expect your staff to refer to these during times of uncertainty. Additionally, successfully communicating them with your workers ensures a smooth transition and implementation process. Companies should provide their people with relevant background information to explain why these procedures are being implemented, and employers should incorporate open communication that will give them an opportunity to ask questions about the new policy.
Executive Employment Agreements
Essentially for those high earners that you are looking to keep and potentially provide profit-based incentive. From time to time, owners also like to provide equity. A good employment lawyer with business experience can help guide you through this decision making process to help you keep your best people, make them feel rewarded and appreciated, and also protect the business from giving away equity unnecessarily or without the proper protections.
Whilst they are legally binding, and can be orally constructed, important contracts, especially related to your livelihood, should be written and signed by all parties. They are the epicenter of the SME and corporate world. Drafting includes writing out the terms, fees, conditions, and functional duties of all parties involved. Examples of common contracts are service, confidentiality, non-compete, and independent contractor agreements. If you already have something binding, it would be advantageous to have a business attorney review them to point out the dangers of ‘breach’ and other complicated provisions.
Non Solicitation Agreements
These are incredibly important because they protect your employees, customers, and protective customers from being poached by an outgoing employee. They are routinely enforced (compared to non compete which are more heavily scrutinized) because they serve to protect the business and those relationships that the employee develop while being paid by the firm. These are an important tool for companies to utilize as their business growths and employees begin to come and go.
Terms of Employment
We use the phrase “Terms of Employment” to avoid it being mischaracterized as an employment contract. This maintains the at-will status of the employee while setting basic terms of the position such as duties, hours, pay, etc. South Carolina Wage Payment Act has further payment disclosures that should be included in the Terms of Employment.
Wage and Hour Compliance
Employers have an obligation to pay people according to the terms of their employment. When the wage payers withhold money, they could face stiff recourse. South Carolina has strict rules governing wage and hour compliance. Call us to review your options. If you are an owner, let us help you devise a plan to make sure you never run afoul of statutory regulations.
Hiring and Firing
This can be a tricky area. South Carolina generally is an at will employment state, meaning an employer can fire an employee for any reason – except an illegal reason. There are certain protected classes. Both parties should understand the rules and regulations governing hiring and firing. With the right strategy and information, employers are better able to respect their staff while protecting the company.
In order to form a more inclusive and welcoming place of work, this information is key. Your company should have clear policies regarding reporting pathways and training opportunities for new recruits. These policies should be reflected in your employee handbook and should be stressed throughout the hiring process. If you are an owner in need of assistance developing your discrimination training program, please call us to review your options.
Employment and Manager Training
Want to know the secret to a successful small business? Strong leadership and management. In order to be a successful manager, there are certain laws and regulations that you should be aware of– the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, just to name a few. Managers and staff are responsible for knowing local, state, and federal laws and making sure your company is complying appropriately. Without a legal guide, you might be missing all the regulations you should be following. Call us today to discuss how we can help you fill in the gaps, and keep you operating as usual.
If you are without a human resources department, let the lawyers at Henderson & Henderson provide the support you need. Staff issues, files, hiring, firing, and maintaining compliance with federal and state laws all require specific information to ensure you remain compliant. We provide plans to perform a comprehensive review of your company’s hiring and firing procedures, employee files, and regulatory guidelines to make sure you understand what you need to know.
Unfortunately, there might come a time when your company is down-sizing, and you are forced with the decision to lay off people. In the case of this event, a severance agreement is a good remedy to part amicably with former workers. It is a legal document that ensures an employee was not wrongfully let go. It also can include severance pay and certain benefits, but its primary purpose is to guarantee that the former team member does not file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the employer. Nobody wants to get laid off, but this document can be a way to care for your employees and ease tensions while your business adjusts to a new size or operation.
Sexual Harassment Investigation
If an employee reports feeling uncomfortable by the actions of another employee, then an employer needs to investigate and take actions where needed. An employment attorney can help with the investigation as well as help determine the actions that may be necessary which could range from termination to no action. An employer should never take lightly any report of sexual harassment. It should be thoroughly investigated with heightened caution throughout the process.
Termination of Employment and Legal Support
A client contacted our firm with a question about how to pay their employee that they needed to terminate. We were able to help coach them through how to properly handle a termination as well as the rules for payment upon termination.
After that, we were able to update some of their employment policies to improve and clarify their relationship with their employees.
Learn more about what an employment attorney can do for you, about Wesley Henderson, and contact us with any questions.