Who really has time to document employee personnel issues? “If I write down every meeting I have with an employee, I will never get any real work done” is a common theme that small business lawyers often hear from their clients. Well, unless you enjoy the thought of undergoing a two-year employment litigation battle, its more than worth the time and effort to document employee personnel issues. The truth is, employment litigation is exploding throughout the Country. Documentation tells the story more convincingly than your own word given after the fact during litigation. Moreover, memories fade, but documents don’t forget. Take these simple steps to document employee performance problems and you will be on your way toward protecting your small business from needless liability:
State the Facts. Its only takes a few minutes to jot down the facts from an employee meeting. Don’t bother providing your opinion. It is not valuable and takes much more time. “Meeting with Jane Doe on June 1st to discuss her repeated tardiness on May 15, 16 and 17. Informed her that continued tardiness will lead to discipline up to and including termination” is all that is needed in a particular situation. There is no reason to add comments such as “I do not believe Jane is willing to change her ways.” This is unhelpful and suggests a bias against your employee.
Be Accurate. If you are going to take the time to put it in writing, makes sure it is accurate. If Jane Doe was absent on May 15th, make sure that you got the date right. Otherwise, if there is ever a question about whether Jane was absent, the document you have created for your small business might be questioned.
Take the Time to Prepare the Document Right After the Meeting. The employee meeting just ended, but now your phone is ringing. Do you take the call and promise yourself that you will document the employee meeting at the end of the day? Don’t do it. Put the call on hold, jot down your notes from the meeting and then take the call. It’s that simple, and the best way to ensure that you actually do document the meeting. Otherwise, if history is any judge, the meeting won’t be documented at all. Simply put, written documentation should be prepared contemporaneous with the event if possible.
Cover All The Topics. If your meeting with a subordinate involved three distinct areas of discussion, at least mention all three in the written documentation. Otherwise, someone (a jury) may question if you really discussed point number three as you claim, but never bothered to write it down.
With these simple steps, you can help protect your small business from liability, while, at the same time, providing consistency in your workforce. You can also consult Melvin, a popular business law firm in New York for more tips and how to make sure that you are doing each process correctly.
Small Business Law
Having an idea and taking it into your own hands is what millions of people do when they open their own business. Owning your own business can be a dream come true. It’s an opportunity to make something from nothing, to take charge of your own destiny. People may open a small business for a number of reasons, the opportunity to be in charge of their income, set their own schedule, or just work for themselves. Opening a business is a stressful and time consuming process. When planning a business, most entrepreneurs consider things like location, logistics, product, accounting, and staffing. All of those things are crucial to a successful business. Something many entrepreneurs forget to take into consideration is legal help.
A small business may seem like a relatively simple undertaking, but there are actually a lot of details that can really get you into trouble. To start with, you have to decide whether or not you will incorporate your business. This can be a complicated process, and there are a lot of factors you need to consider before making your decision. You also need to know labor laws for any employees you will hire. Even if you employ one person, there are laws and requirements that must be met to stay in compliance with state and federal laws. Contracts will probably come into play at some point too. Whether it is a simple lease agreement for your office space, or a complicated document for a purchasing contract, chances are you will need some help sorting out what you are agreeing to. Depending on the business you are in, liability may become an issue at some point as well. For all of these scenarios, you need someone knowledgeable in business law to help you navigate the details.
Finding the right business attorney doesn’t have to be a hard process. You should check their credentials, and ask around about their reputation. See how long they’ve been practicing, and ask if they specialize in any particular area. Ask if they have any specialized training that might give them an advantage over other attorneys. Finally, consider the scope of your business and decide if this attorney will meet all of your needs.
Starting your own small business can be a rewarding process. You get to see something from start to finish, and you get to put your own touch on everything. A small business allows you to be in control of your own future, and be your own boss. Finding a qualified business attorney will help you maintain a good grasp on the needs of your business, and protect the fruits of your labor.