Flexibility during a crisis may make sense in certain situations, but there are some areas where you don’t want to fall short of your usual standards. Documentation is certainly one of those.
Documentation is an important part of risk management, and the price of not documenting your actions can far outweigh the costs of doing so, especially if an employee were ever to allege discrimination.
When we talk about discrimination in the workplace, we are not referring simply to the act of treating people differently or giving someone preferential treatment. It is discrimination based on an employee’s inclusion in a protected class which is problematic. A number of laws at both the federal and state levels make workplace discrimination unlawful if it is based on race, color, age (over 40), sex, pregnancy, religion, disability, national origin, ethnic background, genetic information (including that of family members), military service, and citizenship or immigration status, among other classes.
The best way to avoid illegal discrimination is to base employment decisions only on job-related factors, and this is where documentation comes in. Documenting the job-related reasons for your business decisions shows your decisions were not done for illegal reasons. Without documentation, you have nothing to show the legitimate basis of your decisions if any of your employment decisions are challenged. That makes it harder to prove you were not discriminating unlawfully.
Below are a few areas where documentation is especially important.
Discipline and Termination
Documenting all the actions you take to warn an employee about poor performance or unacceptable behavior before terminating their employment demonstrates that you made a good faith effort to help the employee meet expectations and avoid termination. You are on safer ground terminating employment if you can show that the employee understood what was expected of them and what would happen if they failed to improve.
Make sure you document every step of an investigation as well as the resulting actions taken so you can show that you fulfilled your legal obligations. Having a clear record will also help you ensure similar situations are handled consistently in the future.
Employers sometimes get into trouble with the law by asking job candidates questions that reveal their membership in a protected class. Asking about church attendance, for example, might be intended to ascertain weekend availability, but it gives the applicant an opportunity to claim they were discriminated against. Hiring decisions should be based on job-related factors. Proper documentation of the job-related reasons for hiring provides evidence they were.
Promotions and Pay
Documentation here should show pay and promotion practices are systemized and based only on bona fide job-related reasons. The federal Equal Pay Act requires men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for equal work while Title VII of the Civil Rights Act requires employers not to discriminate based on someone’s inclusion in a protected class. If you lack documentation explaining why one employee is paid more than another in the same position, your risk of being sued (and losing) goes up substantially.
Documentation Made Easy
As an employer or HR professional, documenting can feel tedious and like extra work. With Come Aboard, our digital employee onboarding application, documentation is simple, paperless, and automated.
Come Aboard simplifies your employee onboarding by:
- Allowing you to customize new hire packets
- Eliminating paper copies of onboarding and other paperwork
- Housing digital copies of employee forms
- Tracking Benefits eligibility and employee license/certification renewal
- Integrating with payroll and NetClockIn
- … and more!
Come Aboard allows your new-hire to get all of the tedious stuff done in a jiff, so they can hit the ground running on their first day. Come Aboard is for more than just new hires. Current employees will be able to use an employee portal via Come Aboard where they will have access to:
• View and update their direct deposit information
• View Pay Stubs
• View Tax forms
• Request time off
Click here to learn more.
This post is provided by the HR Pros at the HR Support Center and Corporate Payroll Services. It is for information purposes only and is not to be considered legal advice. When you need essential information on human resources issues, from benefits, hiring, and management, to culture, technology and regulations, HR Support Center is a resource on which you can rely. To learn more, visit www.cpsgo.com/hr-support-services/ or contact us at 770-446-7289 x2102.