Drafting a Personnel Policy for Your Sacramento Business

November 14, 2012

Most large corporations, non-profits, and public sector organizations employ an army of human resources professionals to handle all types of personnel matters. These matters can range from training to payroll to employee relations. The common denominator among these large organizations is that the managing officers delegate these responsibilities to a human resources department so that they can focus on the broader goals of the organization. The owners of small businesses in Sacramento do not have this luxury. The business owner (or perhaps one trusted employee) is the human resources department for a small business.

Be that as it may, there is no reason that a small business cannot have many of the same human resources features that a larger organization has. One of the most important of these features is a solid and robust personnel policy. And make no mistake: the best personnel policies are written by Sacramento business attorneys.

Think of a personnel policy as your employees’ handbook. It serves as a guide for what is expected of all employees. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the employee and the business itself. It provides clarity on what to do if certain circumstances should arise. Finally, it supplements the labor and employment laws of the jurisdiction in which the business operates.

Imagine the following situation. You hire a new employee, and you explain to that employee that “business hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m with a half hour lunch break.” This has been your policy for the life of your business. Its source is not any particular law or regulation, but simply your interpretation of a normal work day. Now suppose your new employee is making a habit of being late in the mornings. She shows up closer to 9:00 than 8:30 about once or twice a week. Do you have a mechanism in place for handling this situation, besides a verbal expression of your displeasure?

This is a perfect example of where a comprehensive written personnel policy would bring immediate guidance and clarity to the situation. Suppose you have asked your attorney to draft your personnel policy in such a way that employees get two warnings about lateness, and then a forfeiture of pay upon their “third strike.” You can present the applicable policy section to your employee, putting her on notice of her entitlement to two warnings and her danger of forfeiting pay upon the third lateness. That way, neither party can claim that they were unaware of the company lateness policy.

Now apply some different facts to the same example. Suppose your employee wants to call out sick. Suppose she is spending too much time surfing the internet or accessing personal email. Suppose any number of typical small business situations occur. Do you have policies on the books for these situations?

Having a personnel policy drafted by a Sacramento small business lawyer can help reduce the likelihood of workplace disputes, employment lawsuits, and even general impediments to productivity. It is a simple, one-time investment in your sanity and your bottom line, and it gets everyone on the same page. Can you afford not to have one?

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