Common Mistakes Employers Make (and How to Avoid Them)

Mistakes happen to even the best of us. What is the best thing about mistakes? Learning from them. If you are lucky, you may be able to learn from the mistakes of others and avoid the problem yourself.

The following are some of the most typical mistakes we notice in employment compliance. If you want to strengthen your procedures and assure compliance, addressing these issues (if they exist) is a good place to start! For more information, check out this website

Employers can reduce their exposure to litigation by avoiding the following frequent errors.

  1. Failing to have a sufficient Employee Handbook 

Every company should maintain an employee handbook and have it reviewed by labor counsel at least once a year. Every employee handbook should include a policy prohibiting sexual harassment and discrimination, a strong EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) policy, and language stating that the handbook is intended for guidance only, that it does not constitute a contract, that the company reserves the right to terminate employees at any time, and that the company may change the terms of the handbook at its discretion.

  1. Failing to conduct a legal job interview 

Prospective workers often launch discrimination claims as a result of companies conducting inappropriate interviews. The following is a brief list of questions that should never be asked of job seekers. What is your birth date? Have you ever gotten arrested? Do you have a disability? Have you ever received treatment for drug addiction or abuse? Are you married? Are you pregnant? Does your faith limit you from working on weekends? Have you ever joined a union? Have you ever applied for workers’ compensation? 

  1. Not paying for unauthorized work time 

You may have encountered employees who overwork and “milk” the clock. Sometimes it is a little here and there, and it does not build up too much. It can sometimes take up a large amount of time, resulting in weekly (or day-to-day) overtime.

You try to avoid it by having a policy in your policy handbook that states that working over the schedule and/or overtime must be approved in advance. You also state that extra hours will not be compensated if it is performed without your agreement. However, it still occurs.

When it comes down to it, can you truly refuse to pay? Unfortunately, no matter what your policy is, you cannot refuse to pay an employee once they have worked. You can utilize typical disciplinary actions, including verbal and/or written counseling, suspension without pay, or even termination, but you cannot refuse to pay for time worked. This will just encourage wage and hour claims.

Also, although a policy forbidding illegal work time/overtime is good, please eliminate any wording referring to non-payment when working without authority.

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