A company's policy towards its employees begins with its Personnel Manual. This is the first document that an employee should receive when he/she is hired. The Manual should also be drafted in such a manner that it is part of the employee's employment contract with company.
The Personnel Manual's contents should include, but not be limited to, procedures for:
1. Using time clocks,
2. Overtime policies,
3. Grievance procedures,
4. Termination procedures,
5. Accidents in the workplace,
6. Workplace safety protocol,
7. Employee theft or fraud,
8. Performance reviews,
9. Salary raises,
10. Vacation pay,
11. Specific employee agreements,
12. Employee health insurance,
13. Employee benefit (401 K),
14. Sick and maternity leave; and
15. Other employee related topics that relate to the specific industry of the Employer.
Institute Timekeeping and Payroll Policies
Employers should implement a number of policies and procedures focusing on timekeeping and payroll processing that are designed to protect the employer from potential wage and hour claims, California meals and rest period claims, and fraudulent wage claims by employees who overstate there time sheets. Installing a time clock in the workplace is the simplest and most efficient solution. There should also be policies prohibiting unauthorized "off-the-clock" work, requiring written authorization to work overtime, and obligating employees to accurately record time worked can help insulate employers, and verifying the correct payroll of each pay period. Policies that require employees to edit timekeeping records to accurately reflect hours worked, and appeal of pay review decisions, allow employers to defend belated claims that employees worked unpaid time. Timekeeping procedures contribute to the profitability of the company both in terms of legal compliance, and also in terms of increased
Train Employees and Supervisors
Training managers, employees and supervisors regarding workplace compliance policies and procedures is necessary to create uniform policies in the workplace. The training should begin with employee orientation at the time of hiring. The training procedures should be periodically reviewed to insure that they comply with current labor laws
Employers may also want to consider adopting mandatory arbitration provisions in their employment contract requiring employees to pursue claims through alternative dispute resolution and to forego pursuit of lawsuits, class action suits, and collective action claims. These agreements may limit employers' potential liability for damages, and legal fees. Arbitration may also help keep wage and hour disputes private. However, employers should be aware that these agreements may not always deemed legally enforceable.
Perform Periodic Hour Audits
Employers should perform comprehensive wage and hour audits in order to limit, or eliminate exposure to wage and hour liability. This is a fertile area for litigation in California and can be devastating to a company who is not prepared for such a lawsuit. Employers should also perform "off-the-clock" and overtime vulnerability reviews. Compliance with record-keeping, payment upon termination, and wage payment requirements should to be audited periodically to determine if the employer's policies comply with the current law and prevailing California labor standards.
EPLI covers the legal defense and liability for workplace disputes , and in some instances can be added at a minimal cost to a business liability policy.
Maintaining the legal integrity of the workplace is a significant aspect of any business that has employees. This Legal Guide only presents an overview of many of the legal and practical business issues that need to be addressed by the employer in the workplace. Consult a business attorney that is experienced in labor law if you have specific questions or workplace issues that need to be addressed. This is an area of the law where proper preventative measures can avoid expensive lawsuit that can financially devastate a company.
Additional resources provided by the author
California Department of Industrial Relations; United States Department of Labor,
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