Integrated Employment Practices Program — Enact ... Enforce ... Educate
Lawsuits by current and former employees are becoming commonplace. Claims of discriminatory practices are flooding government agencies. Jury damage awards are increasăing at an alarming rate. A maze of federal and state laws governing the processes of hiring, compensating, evaluating, disciplining and discharging employees are enacted each year, adding to employers' burden of regulating their workplaces legally and profitably.
On top of that, in union workplaces the terms of collective bargaining agreements must be addressed in the context of both discretionary policies and legally mandated processes. Large employers with many diverse departments or multi-state operations face even greater challenges in assuring that their policies are consistently applied while still addressing unique state or local requirements.
Many managers and supervisors today are unaware of the legal pitfalls inherent in management of the workplace. Worse yet, those who are informed are often pressured into keeping unproductive employees in their positions due to fear of lawsuits. Business leaders face critical management decisions regarding employee relations. They need the tools to do so productively, yet legally.
Our attorneys and risk management specialists are experts in designing proactive personnel management systems and employment policies to assist multi-jurisdictional employers operating in step with the latest legal requirements, not litigating. We offer a comprehensive and customized compliance program to meet their special, individualized needs.
We will review existing personnel policies and procedures to identify regulatory compliance gaps, outdated policies or imprecise procedures. We take your business step by step through a thorough analysis of enforceable employment practices. We accomplish this phase through an initial meeting with key managers, a comprehensive questionnaire and a follow up detailed conference to assess the data we collect. The Assessment culminates with a written analysis of recommended changes, updating or enhancement of their current personnel practices, coupled with a detailed scope of work plan, including costs and implementation schedule.
Value to employers with multiple worksites or geographic locations: Each organization will be able to pinpoint exactly where their policies require updating or new procedures are necessary. The checklists will address policies in three areas; (1) those that are mandated by law; (2) have legal ramifications (such as disciplinary actions or sick leave) or (3) are recommended for risk prevention. Our legal experts are available to help guide the organizations through the checklists, or to answer questions about the scope of the information required.
Step One: Comprehensive Evaluation of Personnel Policies and Practices
We undertake a comprehensive review and analysis of the company's current policies and practices — both written and unwritten. This process facilitates evaluation of current compliance programs. We determine whether existing written policies comply with federal and state law and recommend revisions or updates to assure that you are not subject to government penalties or employee lawsuits.
We take the organization step by step through an analysis of what to include in an employee handbook and how to assure consistent enforcement of practices mandated by federal and state laws that apply to multi-state organizations. This forms the basis for the work completed in Step Two.
Step Two: Enact and Enforce Comprehensive, Integrated Policies
- Employee Handbooks: Every Word Counts
Employee handbooks can be powerful tools for communicating policies to employees and supervisors and administering personnel policies. They can also be a source of liability when not carefully drafted or followed in practice. More significantly, employers with multiple departments and multi-state facilities have a special need to maintain consistent policies throughout the organization, while still meeting any unique requirements of particular jurisdictions (such as California). We will help the company get the most out of the employee handbook while avoiding liability for unintended promises.
- Leaders' Policies/Procedures Manual: A Roadmap to Consistent Enforcement
Consistent enforcement of policies and procedures is critical. In conjunction with the personalized assessment results and the handbook, SBA will develop a Leader's Policies and Procedures Management Guide ("LPPMG") for managers and front line supervisors, customized for departments and facilities participating in the program. This resource is a highly useable, plain English guide to walk the company's leaders through significant daily activities that are impacted by legal and regulatory standards.
There are several critical reasons for employers to develop and consistently use a separate policies/procedures manual for their managers and front line supervisors. Businesses can give wider authority to supervisors, while assuring that the policies and procedures are precise, yet flexible. This is a valuable resource for supervisors, to assist them in underăstanding the purpose of particular policies as well as how they should handle their supervisory responsibilities. This sigănifiăcantly increases the likelihood that supervisors will administer policies in a legally correct, consistent and fair manner. SBA's customized policies and procedures manuals help leaders assure that employment decisions are made lawfully, through consistent standards, practices and documentation procedures.
Managers and supervisors have many responăsibilities in managing the workplace effectively. Most significant are recruiting, hiring, safety compliance, performance management, discipline and termination. Our customized policies and procedures manuals help managers assure that employment decisions are made lawfully, through consistent standards, practices and documentation procedures.
- FEHA/ADA Interactive Process Manual for HR Specialists & Leaders
Most important is the implementation of procedures and policies to conduct the required interactive process and investigations mandated under state requirements (such as the California FEHA) and the ADA. The California legislature and appellate courts so emphatically support process integrity that FEHA creates - and courts have extended - a separate "cause of action" (e.g., a separate and independent basis to obtain damages, for failure to engage in the interactive process and failure to investigate, correct and prevent harassment; and retaliation.
No employer with California worksites can bypass this interactive process requirement. In fact, the employer can be correct in its initial expectation that it will not be able to reasonably accommodate an employee in a particular situation and still lose a FEHA lawsuit if you fail to engage in the interactive process. SBA services in this area include a range of resources, including publications, training, counseling and ongoing support. These are described in full in this proposal.
The SBA Interactive Process Manual and training program introduces an easy to implement, one-of-a-kind, ten step system that will enable large, diverse and multi-state employers to meet their legal and policy responsibilities, stay out of court and craft the best prospect for defending against unavoidable claims and lawsuits.
Step Three: Educate Managers, Supervisors and HR Professionals
- Comprehensive Training to Complement Policies and Procedures
Supervisory actions are the most common trigger for employee lawsuits, so training for managers and supervisors is critical. Indeed, since consistent enforcement of lawful personnel policies is absolutely essential to the overall success of their compliance program, training is the most important aspect.
SBA also offers a full range of training programs on all aspects of personnel management that are optional additional educational resources. Topics range from the EEO aspects of recruiting and hiring, through performance management, discipline, and termination decisions. Our programs, Leading within Legal Limits,™ How to Effectively Conduct and Document in the Interactive Process, and Preventing Disability Discrimination Disasters for Managers & Supervisors are often used to introduce new policies and processes and to complement newly developed or enhanced policies and procedures.
- Documentation Tools and Techniques
Businesses lose lawsuits when their records are turned against them in court. Managers and supervisors must be able to generate and use documentation in the normal course of business without compromising sound business practices. Good documentation is an integral part of each component of all SBA products, training and compliance programs.