Operating a small business has many challenges, from operating with small budgets to attracting new business. We often hear feedback from potential clients that they are “just a small business”, and therefore they do not require our services.
But is this really the case?
Small businesses and start-ups are in a position to set up the framework through which they will be operating, including the recruitment process, training, employee management, and terminations. When it comes to managing employees in the workplace and all the elements that come along with it, small businesses often take it upon themselves to “get by” by finding templates for employment agreements and workplace policies online.
While this appears to be a cost-effective way of managing employment agreements and workplace policies, it opens the employer up to considerable liability, resulting in much higher costs down the line when faced with litigation.
How Can an Employment Lawyer Limit My Liability?
Effective and enforceable employment agreements and workplace policies have the potential to limit the employer’s liability when it comes to wrongful dismissals claims.
A properly drafted employment agreement, for example, allows the employer to limit their notice requirements, or pay-in-lieu, to the minimum standards required by the Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 41 (“ESA”). Otherwise, they would open themselves to common law notice requirements, where notice requirements are far greater than those established by the ESA.
Similarly, workplace policies that are found to be unenforceable or improperly drafted may open the employer up to liability for wrongful dismissal or even human rights complaints. If an employee is dismissed for violating a workplace policy that is not enforceable, that employee was effectively dismissed for invalid reasons.
Does a Small Business Actually Need Legal Help?
While small businesses may be struggling financially, legal help should continue to be a top priority for employers. Setting up appropriate and valid legal processes from the start allows employers to feel more confident that there are reduced chances of facing litigation, or if they do, they are protected.
While in the moment, employees may be enthusiastic and productive in their positions, this enthusiasm often dies out when there is a workplace issue between and employee and their employer. Employers are then left wondering where they went wrong, and more times than not, can trace the problem to the very beginning: where they failed to introduce, or introduced invalid, employment agreements.
While the employment agreement is the heart of any employment relationship, nonetheless, employers often make the mistake of under appreciating its importance.
How Can Valid Employment Agreements and Workplace Policies Help My Small Business?
Having enforceable employment agreements and workplace policies in place help small businesses in various ways. Some of the benefits include:
- Limiting liability for litigation, including wrongful dismissals
- Clear communication to employees of duties and expectations
- Assist employers with forming their internal culture
- Clear understanding of internal policies, procedures, and processes
Seeking the advice of a competent and knowledgeable employment lawyer can assist small businesses in limiting their liability and ensuring that the proper processes and procedures are set in place.
If you are an employer who is a small business and is considering having your employment agreements and workplace policies reviewed or drafted, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to assist.
If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support with same day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.
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