1. An employee by any other name is still an employee.
“Federal and state agencies are scrutinizing so-called 'independent contractor’ or 'consultant’ relationships to make sure the individual is not really an employee entitled to certain legal protections and for whom employment taxes are owed,” Nathan Overberg says. Review relationships to ensure employees are accounted for.
2. Ensure employees are paid.
“During the past few years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of employees claiming they are not getting properly paid for all work performed,” Overberg says. If you know hourly employees are doing work for you outside their regular shifts or from home, make sure they are recording time and are properly compensated.
3. Avoid retaliation.
If an employee complains that you have violated a law or regulation, or if the employee exercises a legal right, such as seeking workers’ compensation benefits, don’t take adverse action against the employee for making that complaint or exercising that right, Overberg says. “Otherwise, the resulting ‘retaliation’ claim will likely cause you more sleepless nights than the initial complaint."
4. Don’t surprise employees.
A performance-related discharge should not be a surprise to the employee. "So, make sure you are accurate in your performance evaluations, document any performance deficiencies as they happen, and promptly share the documentation with the employee,” Overberg says.
5. Do the right thing.
“In those instances where the law is unclear or you can’t find guidance on what the law requires or expects, honesty, communication, and a sense of fairness will usually be helpful in guiding you to do the right thing,” he says.