Employers: Considerations before you hire and fire

(NC) --  Employees can be your biggest asset, if you hire the right people. Lisa Gallivan, a partner at one of Atlantic Canada's leading regional law firms, Stewart McKelvey, and co-owner of her own small business, Mills, advises employers to consider the following when hiring, and firing, employees:

• Know your candidate.  Conduct interviews, reference checks and any other checks necessary for the position (e.g. criminal background check). Be informed about what background checks you can request, limitations on questions you can ask and what social media searches you can perform.

• Structure the relationship.  Both employer and employee should be clear about the technical structure of the employment relationship. Is your employee full-time, part-time or a term employee?  Will the employee work in a specific department? Who will the employee report to?  How will the employee be paid? Will there be a probationary period?

• Have a contract in writing.  The contract can be as simple as a letter of offer or something more formal, but should set out the obligations of both the employer and the employee.  

• Communicate your workplace policies.  Policies will only protect you if employees know about them.  Have new employees sign a copy of each policy or a policy handbook after you have provided them with training.

• Keep your employees safe.  Provide training and instruction on workplace requirements (attire, procedure, etc.), especially those designed to ensure employee safety and be sure to highlight any potential hazards specific to your workplace.

• Use restrictive covenants when appropriate. If your new employee will have high-level access to your clients or classified information about your business, consider including a non-solicitation or non-competition clause in your employment agreement.

• Know when it is time to terminate. Employees can be terminated for just cause or can be terminated without cause if reasonable notice is provided.  Do not let floundering employees linger.  

• Know your Human Rights responsibilities.  Employers are required to accommodate individuals with illnesses, disabilities or other characteristics protected by statute.  Termination may not be appropriate until multiple forms of accommodation have been attempted or until it is clear the employment contract has been frustrated.

• Know how much notice is required.  Employees terminated without cause are generally entitled to common law notice, unless the contract of employment has limited the liability in this regard to the statutory, or a higher, minimum.  Common law notice is based on a number of factors including age, length of service, position, other available jobs, etc.  

• Document, Document, Document.  Documents relating reason for the termination and the employer's decision to terminate should be kept, including original notes from interviews with employees. 

For more information visit www.stewartmckelvey.com



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