Establishing an effective workplace and strong culture starts at the top for any company. When managers and supervisors model correct behavior, it sets the tone for others to follow. As a result, companies can realize tangible benefits by properly training their managers and supervisors. Proper training of supervisors will include:
Establishing the importance of documentation
Documenting issues with individual contributors as they arise is critical, both in helping to correct the underlying behavior, and for record-keeping purposes should these issues give rise to future litigation. Supervisors need to learn how to adequately document performance issues and create strong, accurate records to be used in performance evaluations. By doing so, a company can put itself in the best possible position to deal with employee-related issues.
Providing awareness to potential legal issues
While a comprehensive knowledge of employment law is not required, supervisors do need to understand when an individual contributor may be bringing up issues that could place the company in legal jeopardy.
Supervisors should know of the laws that potentially impact the company, and how to handle these issues, either with the assistance of Human Resources, Legal or another department within the company. Some federal employment laws include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: This law bars discrimination and harassment in the workplace based on a host of factors, including race, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation and other factors. This law also bars retaliation against any employee who makes a claim of discrimination or harassment.
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Under the ADA, employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees or job applicants with disabilities.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Qualifying employers (Businesses with 50 employees within a 75 mile radius) must allow qualifying employees to take unpaid leave for health or family reasons.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): For supervisors who manage hourly employees, it is critical to understand the FLSA. The FLSA governs overtime, minimum wage and other factors relating to wages and hours worked.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA): OSHA provides health and safety standards in the workplace, and is a critical law for supervisors who manage employees in a manufacturing or industrial setting.
This is far from a complete list of federal employment laws. Furthermore, states have their own employment laws that provide additional protections to workers. Employers must train supervisors to deal adequately with legal issues as they arise.
Understanding the employee handbook and company policies
While supervisors cannot be expected to fully understand employment law, supervisors should fully understand policies. Supervisors who fully understand company policies can fairly and accurately enforce these policies among their direct reports. This will promote compliance across the workforce and enhance morale and productivity.
Employers of all sizes in all industries can greatly benefit by working closely with knowledgeable legal counsel. The lawyers of Thatcher Law Firm represent a diverse employer clientele across Maryland and beyond.