by Deena B. Rosendahl, Esq.
What Every Employer and Employee Needs to Do in 2014
Happy New Year, everyone! Now that 2014 has officially arrived, I thought I would share with you the types of resolutions we should all be making for our best employment legal health in the new year. Remember, preparation and careful review of your company’s human resource policies and knowing your rights as an employee can save everyone time and money down the road.
Employer New Year Resolutions:
- Review your Employee Handbook both for legal compliance (hint: The NJ SAFE Act was passed this year requiring certain employers provide an unpaid leave of absence for victims of domestic violence; has your handbook been updated to provide this leave?) and company compliance. If your company isn’t following a policy you have in place, remove it or change it. A failure to follow your own internal policy can be just as risky as not having a policy in place at all.
- Review your employee classifications: If you have workers classified as independent contractors, make sure they meet the ABC test. If you have non-exempt employees, make sure every employee is accurately recording their hours worked, and if they aren’t, make sure you are! Ultimately, you the employer, are responsible for maintaining time records, not your employees!
- Provide Anti-Harassment/Discrimination training for all employees: Employers have an affirmative obligation to prevent a hostile work environment. One way to do this is to provide anti-harassment training, which should take place once every two years. If you haven’t trained your employees in 2013, consider adding this training to your plan for 2014!
- Make sure you have all legally required posters posted in a conspicuous place where all employees have access to them.
- Review your performance evaluations process: Annually evaluating your employees’ performance will not only help manage your employees, but can protect you from claims of wrongful termination, discrimination, etc.
Employee New Year Resolutions:
- Make sure you are aware of all your company’s internal policies and procedures. Once you are provided an employee handbook, you are responsible for reading the policies and complying with all policies.
- Report any claims of harassment or discrimination right away. . . whether you are the victim or just a witness, remember: Your company can’t correct a problem it doesn’t know about.
- If you are presented with an employment agreement or non-compete agreement, make sure you have it reviewed by competent counsel before you sign. These agreements affect not just your current employment but your future employability as well.
- If you’ve been terminated from your employment but your employer gives you the option of “resigning”, make sure you address your rights to collect unemployment compensation. If your employer designates your separation of employment as a resignation and reports this as such to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, you will not be eligible to collect unemployment compensation.
- If you’ve been injured on the job, no matter how minor, report it immediately! A failure to promptly report a workplace injury (no matter how slight) could affect your ability to qualify for workers compensation insurance benefits.