After recently witnessing my spouse go through a frustrating situation with a prior employer, it made me think about small businesses who have no formal Human Resources function and their need to be aware of the laws and regulations around human resources.
There are several governing bodies around employing people. In BC, these include Employment Standards, which govern the minimum standards that employers must meet around wages, overtime, vacation and holidays, and working conditions. There is also Canadian Human Rights legislation, which outlines the requirements to meet around basic human rights, which have been greatly expanded in the last ten years. Employers in BC also have WorkSafe BC which is a mandatory insurance designed to assist employers with having safe work environments and assisting employees with workplace injury and returning to work.
Those are just the basic programs and there may also be union organizations, benefit programs and other government legislation that covers your business. All of these can require time and expertise to navigate through and if not properly followed, can put small businesses at great risk.
Employers often utilize a staff member in-house to manage these various requirements, however, often this person, perhaps an office administrator or one of the employees may not have the expertise to fully understand the law or its application. On the other hand, business owners often go about their day-to-day activities without consulting anyone regarding proper process or fully understanding the applicable laws themselves.
Here are a few examples of where employer missteps may end up costing a lot of time, and money…
1. A business owner wants to avoid paying their employees overtime, so they allow the employees to “bank” overtime and pay it out at straight time. The common mistakes here often include not having a proper Overtime agreement in place that all employees would be required to sign. Employers also neglect to properly track the time, or pay it out at a lower wage rate than the employee may be at when the time is taken. In this case, employees could go to Employment Standards and possibly get backpay for all overtime worked.
2. An employer makes a change to an employee’s work arrangements without providing notice, for example, a wage cut or a change in hours. Without providing “adequate notice”, the employee may go to employment standards to make a formal complaint.
3. If an employee gets injured on the job, it is both the employee and the employers’ responsibility to report the injury to WorkSafe BC. If an employer tries to intimidate or encourage an employee not to report an injury, there are severe consequences.
Small businesses would be wise to hire a Human Resources Consultant to assist them with set-up of key pieces of their business: offer letter templates, discipline and termination processes and paperwork, and employee policies that are clear and align with laws and regulations. The cost of setting up these things could far outweigh the potential consequences of an employment standards claim, or even a potential lawsuit.
The investment is worth the peace of mind.
To discuss more about HR Consultants contact:
Nicky Scott, BComm, CHRP, FEA
Canadian Family Financial
Nicky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 236-422-2269 in Penticton