Let’s talk about “best practices” that can minimize the legal threat all HR professionals face – be they seasoned or beginning.
Think consistency in enforcement. This is a tricky because we always think we are being consistent – we are not. Using checklists will help when you are hiring, giving performance appraisals, dealing with time off, etc. It is good practice to refer to policy checklists often to ensure that you are being consistent.
Aim for objective documentation. This means just the facts Anything too flooded with adjectives or personal commentary is not appropriate in your objective documentation of employee performance Keep the objective by making statements that anyone would agree to.
Be firm. It’s tempting sometimes to make exceptions for people, especially those that are very persuasive but you will need to hold a firm line. What does that mean? Some people will present arguments that make a lot of sense at the time but when you look at it later, you realize that you could be accused of favoritism. Your best bet in dealing with these types of people is to listen to their request and tell them that you will get back to them. That will give you time to think the request through.
Identify when to seek guidance instead of forging forward alone. Many of us want to figure it out for ourselves. This is not always the best course of action. We need to know when to recognize the need to seek legal counsel and guidance instead of acting alone. Also, using a witness will also protect you against the he said, she said situation.
There are certainly a wide range of concerns for HR personnel. It can be difficult to develop a consistent approach in handling employee issues. I hope in sharing these practices your office will be all the more prepared and equipped to minimize legal threat, and create a workplace environment that treats employees fairly AND legally.
Check your online library for help in human resources with courses such as: