We've enlisted Clear Path HR Assistant and recent graduate, Karleigh Buist, to discuss the importance of maintaining employee files and the risks involved in not having sufficient documentation. Click here to learn more about Karleigh and her role here at Clear Path.
During my 4 years at Wilfrid Laurier University, I had the opportunity to work in a couple of different workplaces as part of the co-op program. With that, I had the chance to learn about several different types of workplaces and how their Human Resources departments worked. During my four month co-op work term at a large auto-manufacturing facility, there were strict policies and procedures set in place by the Human Resources Department. Employee files were no different. Everything had to be documented - from an applicant’s resume and educational documentation to all health and safety training information.
This experience taught me about the importance of documentation and the role it plays in both the Human Resources department and the company as a whole. Just when you think you've documented enough, document some more! Without documentation, a company can run into issues surrounding hiring practices and federal or provincial mandatory training. Both of these examples can help companies avoid many frustrating headaches down the road.
What about small businesses?
My experience working for a large, well established company has been contrasted with working with clients who own small businesses. While some have traditional Human Resources departments, others rely on external services providers like Clear Path to guide them along the way. For some small businesses, the belief is that creating and implementing procedures around the hiring and orientation process can be complicated and time consuming. I have come to realize and understand that although it can seem like a daunting task; these elements become critical in insuring a company’s due diligence.
Smaller employers especially can get caught on insufficient documentation when considering termination for cause for example. In situations such as this, not having a great paper trail will make terminating an employee with ongoing performance issues, next to impossible.
According to the Employment Standards Act of Ontario: All employers in Ontario are required to keep written records about each person they hire. These records must be kept by the employer, or by someone else on behalf of the employer, for a certain period of time. The employer must also ensure that the records are readily available for inspection.
Let's get practical
In order to ensure that your employee files are up to date and include all necessary information, establish a time to review them annually. For many, it is easiest to let this coincide with an employee’s annual performance evaluation. It is important to establish this routine to ensure that you identify any missing documents or information before the whole process becomes overwhelming.
Remember, your personnel files should only include relevant information. For example, an employee file is not a place for every note, document or thought about an employee rather keep a log if necessary for conversations or to document isolated incidents. There are a few key documents that should be included, without a doubt. These documents include, but are not limited to:An employee’s resume and/or application
Although this list is by no means fully comprehensive, it does represent some of the key documents that will help protect you and your company in the future.
Don’t know where to start with your employee files? A Clear Path consultant can review and identify missing documentation as well as help you set up procedures to ensure this practice is maintained in future. Once a procedure is set in place, you will have a documentation system that will be easily available when the time comes to make decisions on discipline, promotions, layoffs, or to complying with government audits. A little prevention and preparation ahead of time, can hedge a lot of headache later!
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Cambridge, Ontario N1T 2B9
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