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  • Forms Your HR Department Needs

    13 Forms Your HR Department Needs Responsible for keeping employees happy and productive, a human resources department is vital to the smooth operation of any business. HR departments oversee recruiting, training, and onboarding employees. They maintain essential paperwork and ensure that employees have a safe, healthy, productive work environment. The following forms are what just about every company's HR department needs to function efficiently and as required by law. These forms protect the rights of both employee and employer.  Job Offer Letter You can offer a potential employee a job verbally, but you'll better protect your company's rights and those of the employee if you provide the person with a job offer letter.  This document spells out the responsibilities, compensation, and job duties of the position. The applicant can consider the offer and then choose to accept the job as offered, request amendments or additions, or decline the offer altogether. Employment Contract Best hiring practices include a written employment contract that spells out what is expected of employees. A formal contract ensures that employees are well informed of their duties. This agreement helps ensure that their employment goes smoothly for them and you, the employer. Employment contracts include information such as start date and a full description of the job, including pay and benefits. Employee Agreement Amendment The business climate is continually changing. Along with these changes often comes the need to amend employee roles and responsibilities. An employee agreement amendment allows for making changes to an existing agreement without having to draw up an entirely new contract. Compensation Agreement A compensation agreement is an amendment to an employee's original employment agreement. You can use this form to record an employee's change in wage, such as a bump in pay. You can also use this form to add other types of compensation, including vacation days and 401(k) plans and matching. Employee Confidentiality Agreement A legally binding contract between employer and employee, a confidentiality agreement protects your company's proprietary information. This document ensures that employees who sign the agreement don't share your company's financial information, customer information, intellectual property details, or trade secrets with any outside parties. By signing a confidentiality agreement, the employee agrees not to misuse company information by sharing it with anyone who isn't authorized. Using this document is advisable, even if you trust your employees. Employee Non-Compete Agreement The employee non-compete agreement takes over where the employee confidentiality agreement leaves off. This legally-enforceable document prevents employees from competing with your business if they leave the company.  Former employees had access to sensitive documents and business processes that you don't want in your competitors' hands. A non-compete agreement will help ensure this doesn't happen. Within this document is specific language informing the employee of the legal consequences of breaking the agreement. Employee Privacy Policy By law, your company is bound to protect employee privacy. An employee privacy policy spells out your company's procedures and policies on collecting and retaining staff personal information. It enables you to legally inform your employees of their rights and what the company adheres to. This policy should also list contact information for a company representative employees can speak to if they believe there's been a privacy breach. Email Acceptable Use Policy Most companies today use email for a significant chunk of all communication. An email acceptable use policy informs your employees of the company's expectations surrounding their work email use.  This policy should clearly outline how employees are to conduct themselves via email, including rules about sharing information. For example, your company may require all sensitive information to be encrypted before being emailed. A clear policy that employees read and sign protects them and the company. Internet Usage Policy Given that many employees spend most of their day on computers, it's essential to have a policy that clarifies company expectations on internet usage. The best way to convey these expectations is with an internet usage policy. This document clearly and explicitly spells out the dos and don'ts of internet usage while employees work, both in the office and offsite. Social Media Policy How employees behave on social media when representing your business matters. A social media policy protects the company's image online by outlining how employees should act on social media and what they shouldn't do. This policy also dictates how employees are expected to behave if assigned to manage company social media accounts. Employee Warning Letter While you and your employees undoubtedly have high hopes for everything to run smoothly, it's sometimes necessary to give employees disciplinary warnings about their actions or behavior. When you do this, it's best practices to give them an employee warning letter. This document makes clear the consequences of similar conduct in the future.  If you don't document disciplinary warnings with a warning letter, it will be more difficult to terminate the employee later if the undesirable behavior continues. Employee Termination Letter While the prospect isn't a welcome one, every employer is occasionally going to find it necessary to fire somebody. When you do so, it's important to spell out exactly why they are being let go and to have them sign an employee termination letter. This document helps protect the company if the former employee files a claim against the business for improper termination. In addition to spelling out why they are being fired, the letter lists any compensation, such as severance pay. Employee Handbook It's vital that your company has an employee handbook that you distribute to all employees. The handbook should spell out all company policies as well as expectations in performance and behavior. The employee handbook should be thorough and comprehensive, answering just about any question an employee might have. Employee handbooks should explicitly state the company's at-will employment relationship. That means the company can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, and employees can choose to leave at any time for any reason. To enforce this, the employee must sign a page in the employee handbook, which you should keep on file with all company human resource documents.   Running a professional, up-to-date HR department at your company takes attention to detail. Having the forms on hand you need to ensure that all runs smoothly is the best way to see to it that your employees and your company are on the same page.  Human resources is a tough job, but 360 Legal Forms can help. With a subscription to our comprehensive collection of easy-to-use legal documents, you have a form for every HR situation and more just a few clicks away. Give our free trial a whirl and find out how 360 Legal Forms can make tough jobs a little easier.

  • So You Have to Terminate an Employee: The Ethical Way to Fire Someone

    So You Have to Terminate an Employee: The Ethical Way to Fire Someone One of the most anxiety-inducing tasks that managers and HR reps face is terminating an employee. Not only do you need to worry about potential legal ramifications, but you also have to deal with the guilt of taking away a person's livelihood.  Firing somebody is unlikely to be the highlight of anyone's day. However, managers can do a few things to ensure each termination is legal, irrefutable, and conducted with tact. Besides Montana, all states operate under at-will employment. At-will means that, with few exceptions, an employment relationship can end at any time for any reason or even with no reason provided. Even with at-will laws, nobody should ever be fired by surprise, except in the case of layoffs or a business closing. Don't forget, we also live in a country where people are free to sue anybody at any time for any reason. If a termination does end up in court, the burden is still on the employer to prove that the firing was not wrongful. The best way to ensure that a termination is legally defensible is to have ironclad documentation about the performance or attendance issues leading up to the firing.  "I told Wilbur he needed to be on time," doesn't impress judges as much as, "Here are three written documents addressing Wilbur's attendance issues, and his signature is on all of them." This article will provide you with helpful information on how to protect your company during the dreaded termination process. Make Policies Clear The first step is to ensure employees know what is expected of them by giving every team member a physical or digital copy of the official  employee handbook. An HR rep should thoroughly review the document with every new employee, preferably on their first day. Employee handbooks should specify general company policies such as email use, internet use, and employee privacy.  Set Clear Expectations  Handbooks don't typically detail performance expectations for each employee or how their job success will be measured. Provide accurate, detailed job descriptions during the recruitment process to help employees understand their primary responsibilities and how they will be evaluated in their new role. Make sure they have access to these documents via a company intranet or shared file drive. Ensuring people know their primary responsibilities reduces the risk of a terminated employee saying, "I didn't know that was my job!"  Have Performance Conversations Employees don't know they're failing to meet expectations if nobody tells them. For that reason, it's imperative to conduct regular performance conversations with employees and provide them with fair, honest feedback. However, managers shouldn't rely solely on formal performance reviews. They should also provide real-time feedback to employees when warranted.  "Your audience wasn't very engaged in that presentation because of how quickly you were speaking" on the day it happened is a lot more helpful than "Your public speaking skills could use some work" three months later. By maintaining an open dialogue about performance, employees should always be aware of how they're doing and if they're at risk of termination. Document Everything Documentation is the single most crucial element you can have to ensure a termination goes as smoothly as possible. If a performance conversation wasn't written down, it didn't happen in the eyes of the law. For minor issues, a verbal discussion will suffice. However, if an employee starts to have substantial performance or attendance problems, you need to give them a written warning. Many companies follow the "three strikes, you're out" mentality, but this isn't necessary. Some situations (assault, theft, being intoxicated at work) even warrant immediate termination. In any case, you must have some sort of written documentation that the employee has acknowledged with a signature.  Performance documentation should always include the 5 W's — who, what, when, why, and another what.  Who Who is the employee having issues, and who is in the meeting to discuss them?  What What are the performance problems? Be very specific and detailed-oriented. "Wilbur has been late 10 times in the past month." "Wendy has provided inaccurate information in three of her presentations."  When When were the specific dates these incidents occurred? This is useful when proving that the employee was given adequate time to improve.  Why Why does this require disciplinary action? Describe the impact of these behaviors. "Wilbur's coworkers have had to pick up his workload when he's late." "Wendy's misinformation has led to two lost clients." This helps employees see why their behavior is a problem, which will, hopefully, encourage them to improve.  What's Next The second what is "what happens next?" Explain the expectations moving forward and the repercussions of not meeting them. By letting employees know their goal and the consequences of failing to improve, you eliminate the "surprise" termination. Check for Consistency and Biases When considering terminating an employee, it's essential to reflect on how you've handled similar situations in the past. If Wendy has been late 10 times and you want to fire her, but Wilbur has been late 20 times and hasn't received any type of warning, you could have a discrimination lawsuit on your hands. Consistency is key in the treatment of employees, especially when it comes to terminations. Always check your own biases when handling performance problems. Sure, Wilbur might be a rock star employee who brings in tons of clients, but if he's late to work just as much as Wendy, you need to address both employees about their attendance issues.  In addition to your own personal biases, be aware of legally protected classes before terminating an employee. It's illegal to discriminate based on race, religion, gender, age, or disability. Even if terminating a person from one of these groups is wholly justified, it becomes even more imperative to have ample documentation and proof of consistent previous actions in similar scenarios to prevent a discrimination case. Conduct the Termination You've given the employee feedback on where they're failing to meet expectations, you've documented the conversations, and you've given them time and opportunities to improve, but you're not seeing any changes. It's time to terminate, but there are a few steps to take to prepare for the termination meeting. Check In With Human Resources Talk to HR about wanting to fire the employee. They should already be aware of the performance concerns and can help you compile the documentation from the employee's file. Set a Meeting Set up a time to speak with the employee. There's never a great time to fire somebody, but a common practice is to terminate midweek. This way, the individual doesn't feel as though they commuted to work on Monday for no reason, and it gives them time during the rest of the week to start making future arrangements.  HR should also be a part of the termination meeting. If HR is unable to attend, make sure you have another person in the room, preferably another manager, as a witness. Plan Your Talking Points You don't have to write a full script, but you should figure out what you're going to say. HR can provide you with guidance on what the primary points should be. Start the conversation with a clear statement that this meeting is a termination of employment. This lets the employee immediately know what is going on. Give them a moment to process, and then provide the reasoning behind the firing, which will primarily be concrete facts from the performance documents.  Provide the employee with a termination document that outlines your previous performance conversations. Obtain a signature from the employee if possible, and make sure you and HR sign as well. If the employee refuses to sign, make note of that on the form. Be Diplomatic Terminations are stressful for the manager, but even more so for the terminated employee. Be empathetic, but do not let your emotions run the show. A termination meeting should be factual, concise, and diplomatic. It should not leave room for a debate.  If the employee starts arguing or begging for their job back, a good line to use is, "I understand this is difficult, but our decision is final."  Be Prepared The more prepared you can be for this meeting, the better. By having the performance documentation in front of you, you can succinctly review the steps you took before arriving at termination. HR is your partner in this conversation, so lean on them for advice on what to do prior to and while delivering the firing.  Have Post-Termination Protocol in Place After you have delivered the news of termination, allow HR to take over. They can provide information such as how to continue benefit coverage, how the final paycheck will be delivered, what it will include, when and how the employee can gather their belongings, and information on unemployment and references. When HR wraps up, wish the employee well and have somebody walk them out of the building.  You will also want to inform other employees of the termination. Don't divulge personal details of the scenario, but do let coworkers know that the employee is no longer with the company. You should also have a meeting with the employee's direct coworkers to establish a game plan for dividing up the terminated person's duties. Move Forward Now that you're equipped with these tips and resources, firing people will be as easy as breathing. Just kidding — it's never fun (and if it is, you probably shouldn't be in a position where you can fire people).  Hopefully, with clear expectations set and proper feedback given, fewer workplace issues will reach the stage of termination. And those unfortunate ones that still do will be more straightforward and less stressful for everyone involved.  Save time and make your job easier with a subscription to 360 Legal Forms. You'll get unlimited access to hundreds of easy-to-fill-out, attorney-approved forms that cover email policy, internet policy, employee privacy, written warnings, termination documents, and more. Give our free trial a go and see how much time and hassle you can save.