Employment law can be complex and overwhelming to comprehend, for just about anyone without papers from law school. But as an entrepreneur, it’s sadly also one of the few things you’ll have to encounter and be keen about when running a growing business.
From preparing contractual agreements to handling disciplinary matters correctly, safeguarding the rights of your employees, and settling disputes, being an employer often involves numerous processes that require the input of a legal advisor… and on many occasions.
Knowing when to call on a qualified lawyer is an important yet often underestimated decision that can make or break the future of your company.
In this blog, we’ll explore five key times when consulting a legal expert can help protect the interests of your small businesses immensely.
There are many circumstances in which a qualified lawyer can be of service to your business. This is regardless of its age, how many employees you have, or what your future prospects are as an entrepreneur. Without further ado, here are a few examples of times when you’ll almost always need a seasoned labor attorney.
1) Creating Employment Contracts
When hiring a new employee, one of the first important things to do is prepare an employment agreement. A good employee contract should include elements that protect both your business’s and your employee’s interests, as well as ensure that your professional arrangement is legally binding.
For instance, clearly outlining the terms of employment, job description, wages, benefits, insurance clauses, and the obligations of either party can help minimize misunderstandings at some point down the road. In most cases, employment contracts also cover elements such as disciplinary issues, contract termination terms, and such.
Every element in an employment contract should be as per the labor laws and regulations, which can sometimes be too complex, not to mention that they may vary from one jurisdiction to the other. This is one of the reasons why, like most other contracts, creating an employment contract requires the guidance of an experienced employment lawyer.
In some cases, especially for high-end hires such as CEO or CFO, businesses may also require the advice and presence of a good attorney when negotiating employment contracts.
2. Staff Misclassification Issues
In many states, employees and independent contractors are entitled to different benefits. They also have different tax obligations. Misclassifying employees as independent contractors can result in serious consequences for employers and their businesses, including fines, back pay withholdings, and personal liability.
If you’re unsure whether your staff classification criteria meets the legal threshold, seeking experienced legal advice can be a great way to help protect your business from potential (or further) liabilities. An employment attorney can review your business model and ensure everyone is classified correctly according to labor laws.
3) Navigating Staff Disciplinary Matters
It’s important to have a clear company policy in place for dealing with disciplinary matters. This not only helps ensure that staff members are aware of the correct procedures from the start but goes a long way in reducing the risk of any potential legal issues.
Whether it’s on the employment contract, in your employee handbook, or as a standalone document, a qualified lawyer can help draft a template that makes all expectations and consequences for action or inaction clear right from the get-go.
They can then advise how best to use this as a tool to resolve employer-employee conflicts, alongside alternative ways to approach the situation legally in case matters go unresolved using disciplinary measures and internal conflict resolution mechanisms.
This way, it’s possible to minimize disruption within the workplace due to team misconduct, albeit without leaving lasting negative repercussions on your company or its brand image. A carefully crafted approach to dealing with staff disciplinary issues can also help give your employees peace of mind when it comes to job security.
4) Contract/Employment Terminations
Terminating contracts or employment is not always a pleasant process. But there comes a time when you have to let go of some of your workers, perhaps during layoffs or when a staff member violates company policies/procedures repeatedly. Maybe the contract term simply came to an end.
Whichever the case, it’s essential to ensure that all legal obligations are promptly and properly met by both parties at the point of employment termination. It’s always a good idea to consult an experienced lawyer at this point.
Among other things, they can help you review the details of the existing agreements and highlight any discrepancies that could potentially cause legal issues in the future. Most importantly, they can help ensure you follow the correct dismissal procedures, so your business is protected from otherwise costly litigation procedures like wrongful termination.
With the advice of a good employment lawyer, you’ll be polished on critical areas such as how long notice must be provided before terminating an employee’s contract, as well as the liabilities involved with severance pay packages if any.
5) When Dealing With Lawsuits from Employees
Especially if you do business in a state like California, where the labor laws are often more complex and ever-changing, there are more than a few reasons to find a trusted Los Angeles employment attorney and keep their number on speed dial.
In addition to what we’ve covered earlier, the legal professional can also assist you to navigate litigations that your business might face from employees in a way that saves you time and money.
Thanks to their deep understanding of the laws that protect workers, they can represent you in court proceedings involving issues like workplace discrimination, wage disputes, and wrongful termination, among others.
In or out of court, an experienced lawyer can also help negotiate settlements, if any, to reduce the cost of litigation and save as much money as possible for your business.
An experienced employment lawyer can be an invaluable tool for any growing business. With their expertise, you can easily ensure compliance for your business as far as legal obligations are concerned. It’s also the best way to approach matters related to labor laws soundly and well-informed, especially when you want to maintain positive relationships with your employees. Nonetheless, it all starts by understanding when and why you need an employment attorney in the first place.