NH Labor Laws: A few good business practices will help reduce your exposure and save BIG headaches

NH Business Articles: Help With NH Labor Laws


Labor Laws
A few good business practices will help reduce your exposure!

By Edward D. Alkalay

When you own or run a business, there are always administrative or other practices that, when refined, create a more positive and productive atmosphere. Many employer-clients could have avoided labor related-problems well before any dispute arose by implementing these simple practices. If adopted, I believe they will help avoid employee conflicts, save potential legal fees, and produce a more profitable business.

(1)  Evaluate Potential Employees Carefully:  Perhaps the most important thing is to carefully evaluate all potential employees before hiring them. This will avoid 90% of all employment-related problems. Hiring someone quickly because the workload has increased or because another employee has left is a major mistake. Taking a little bit of extra time to evaluate an employee's credentials, check references, and discuss the applicant with other people will help you to hire the right person for the right job.

(2)  Document All Disputes With Employees:  When employment disputes are documented it often defuses an uncomfortable situation and allows both sides to communicate about the problem. Moreover, documenting a dispute will provide a contemporaneous written record of a dispute which may be needed at a later date. This applies to employees as well as employers. If an employee has a complaint about treatment at work, he/she should give a supervisor a formal written complaint.

(3)  Investigate All Complaints:  If an employee makes a complaint (harassment or safety violations for example), investigate the complaint and make written findings of your investigation. Do not take any adverse action against the employee because of the complaint simply because you believe that the employee is a "troublemaker". This could provide the basis for a retaliation action.

(4)  Have a Written Anti-Harassment Policy:  It is very important to have an anti-harassment policy, with complaint procedure, posted in your workplace. This will clearly communicate to employees what to do if they feel they are being harassed, and will likely provide an affirmative defense for an employer if a harassment dispute arises. Post it along side mandated posters where employees can easily see them. For a complete list of required posters see http://www.nh.gov/labor/forms/mandatory-posters.htm.

(5)  Have Regular Performance Appraisals:  While not required by law, regular performance appraisals will reinforce good performance, provide notice of unsatisfactory performance, and provide a regular avenue of communication between an employee and employer. Communication between employer and employee (whether positive or negative) is critical to a mutually beneficial work-environment.

(6)  Do Not Fire Employees in Anger:  If an event arises which warrants an employee's termination, do not fire the employee immediately while tempers are still flaring. It is far better for the employer and more fair for the employee (and more likely to avoid costly litigation) to suspend an employee, with or without pay, investigate the terminable act thoroughly, and then make the final decision whether to fire the employee based on business logic rather than emotion.

(7)  Treat Employees Equally if They Do Equal Work:  This one is self explanatory.

(8)  When Employees Are Doing a Good Job, Tell Them:  An appreciative word or two to a hard working employee will help to foster a positive atmosphere, and reduce turnover. If you can afford it, give a hard working employee a bonus to show your appreciation. Even a small bonus will be much appreciated. While representing employers (and employees), I have seen many employees join other firms not offering any more money or benefits. The employee leaves simply because he or she does not feel appreciated. High turnover diminishes profitability! Find hard workers, communicate your appreciation, and develop a mutually beneficial long term relationship.


About the Author

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC and is admitted to practice in both Maine and New Hampshire. He can be reached at (603) 447-8994 or ed@NorthConwayLawyers.com.  (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

 

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