When you own a small business, part of your job is making sure that you limit your company's legal liability.
One of the most effective ways you can do that is by anticipating certain situations and putting your company's policy in writing. A written policy provides a framework that you can use as a guide for a variety of problems, and keep you from running afoul of the law. If you're unsure where to start, look at the following list.
These are the basic policies every small business should try to nail down as soon as possible:
Your first employees may be family members, friends, and friends of friends. Either way, you'll probably know in advance whether someone is a good fit for your business. Eventually, your business will grow past that point. When that happens, you need to put into place policies regarding your hiring process, probationary work periods, confidentiality agreements, training, and non-compete agreements. Anything less than an orderly system can expose you to lawsuits.
Eventually, you're going to have an employee that doesn't work out. It may even be someone that has worked for you since the beginning, but who is unable to adapt to the changes a company sees when it starts to grow. You'll avoid allegations of discrimination and unfair termination if you have a straightforward process that gives an employee a clear understanding of each step. For example, if you only give employees one verbal and one written warning before termination, make sure that's outlined in your company policy, and then stick to that rule each time.
Electronics use policies
Called "computer use policies" in the past, these policies may now be extended to all manner of electronic devices that are used for work, including cell phones, tablets, and more. As an employer, you can be held liable if an employee does something illegal on one of those devices (like stalks a customer or steals credit card information). A policy that clearly outlines your expectations and the limitations you put on your employees' ability to use electronics provided by your company, on company time, and on the company network, can insulate your company from liability.
Policies involving customers provide a guideline for how you expect your employees to handle common situations when you aren't there. These include refund and return policies and policies for handling complaints. A firmly established, and equally enforced, policy on such issues can help you avoid lawsuits based on disparate treatment and discrimination.
For more information on the types of policies your business needs to have in writing, talk to a business attorney today.
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