It is very important for employers to keep certain files for their employees. In addition, the files must be available to only those certain employees who have legitimate business reason to have access to those files such as managers who decides for promotions, disciplines and more. Also, employees must be informed by the employers that the information in the files is at high level of confidentiality. There are five distinguishable files that needs and one towards an HR file in which it does not belong into the four specific files.
They are as following: basic personal file, medical/ benefits files, payroll files, on the job injuries file, and I-9 form files. The basic personal files contain the employee personnel file, which has their first and last name. It also includes their official start date, position, and the department they are in. In addition, it should include all the documents related to recruitment such as signed offer letter, job acceptance, job description and the handbook acknowledgement form.
It should also include everything relating to employees’ performance such as written documentation pertaining to disciplinary action. Second file is the medical information file that need special guidelines because the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) set very strict rules on how employers can handle employee’s medical information obtained from examinations and questions. This file needs to be kept in medical file separately from the other four files and it also needs to be locked in a cabinet. Plus, the access to this file should be only available to specific person to guarantee the confidentiality such as office administrator or HR department. In addition, this file should include all insurance, medical enrollment and medical documents such as a doctor’s note for a medical leave of absence or a request form of an accommodation due to a temporary or permanent disability. Third file is the I-9 form file, which is also required to keep separately. The form is a form from U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to verify that the employee is legally authorized to work in the United States. So, the file should have all the I-9s forms including photocopies of the documents that the employees provide to meet the form’s requirements. Key point is to make sure not to put the file under personnel file, but to keep the files separately. And the fourth one is payroll file that also needs to be kept separately. It includes the W4, time-off, leave records, vacations and sick time records, raise documentation, regular pay rate, and etc. The last one is on the job injuries file. It is for any employees who is injured on the job to keep the claim record and injury reports such as doctor’s note of release. Performance review is used to give constructive feedbacks and actions to improve an employee’s performance. If performance reviews done right, it can definitely help employees improve and boost company to be more successful. However, if it is done in bad quality, it could have bad impact on employees, which will have negative consequences such as demotivation. The first common mistake that employers or managers make when evaluating performance reviews is when they have bias. For example, some managers have favorite employees in which the employee who is the manager’s favorite gets positive performance review even though his or her job is not up to par. On the other hand, the opposite scenario can happen to some employee who is not liked by managers. Another common mistake is the recency bias. It happens when a manager who gives performance reviews only focuses on recent performance instead of entire performance. For example, you made a huge contribution for a company during first quarter. However, a month before second quarter is done and when performance review is conducted, you failed to make a big deal, which could bring tons of money into the company. Consequently, the manager gives you really bad performance review only focusing on the recent incident. On the other hand, if opposite scenario arises, the manager would not give the feedback on the negative performance that happened past, which would hurt the employee by not getting appropriate guidance to fix the problem regarding the past. Another common mistake is when evaluating personality rather than behavior or outcomes. It is important to focus on the employee’s behavior and performance, not on his or her personality. An employee who is outspoken or shows attitude does not mean that he or she is rude to customers when handling them on the phone. In order for employers to reduce the legal risks of performance reviews, employers need to make sure that employees are not being overly criticized by superiors, subjected to an undesirable transfer, denied a raise or promotion, demoted, or fired (Tony Vranjes). In addition, they need to ensure to keep record of consistent, objective, well-constructed performance reviews on employees in order to have more protection to defend themselves from such legal claims. Moreover, there are some key factors for employers should do to ensure that the reviews meaningful and useful if they get used. First, they should choose right reviewer: the person who will be conducting performance review should have daily contacts with the employees that are being reviewed. It should not be the one that does not know much about the employee’s performance. However, the evaluator should not have a special relationship to have bias or any bias on the employee. In addition, it has to be documented and consistent whether it is conducted yearly or monthly. Next one would be transparency. Managers or employers must hand out copies of their evaluations including description what the procedures and objectives are on the review. Every company has its own employee handbook that explains their values, mission statement and policies regarding dress code, overtime, leave, phone usage, social median, discipline complaints, benefits and etc. In fact, it is important to have well-described, explained, and planned handbook in order to operate businesses successfully because it has a lot of benefits: first, it could resolve disputes before it is even brought up. In addition, it provides legal protection with policies written in the handbook under the legal situation that is challenged by an employee. So, good policies can protect employers and employees from potential conflicts and misunderstandings with well-described policies, procedures, and expectations that are written in employee handbook. To begin with the employee handbook, good ones always start with their history, values, mission statement, and philosophy. It can help employees feel welcoming and grasp what the company would expect from them. Therefore, the very first page on every employee handbook should start with their core-values including vision, mission statement, and philosophy. By reading the first page, employees will understand what their values, goals, visions, and core-values, employees can expect what the company look to see from its employees and what employees can expect from the company before they even start to read information regarding their policies and rules. The first thing that a good handbook include is introduction. It involves company’s history and philosophy as well as core values including mission statement, goals, and vision. As it is vital to understand company’s core-value for success of the business, it should clearly be stated for employees to comprehend. The second is to have the disclaimer. It is essential to have at least two disclaimers: first one is that employees do not have employment contracts if it is not written or signed by the company president. It is because employee handbook might be considered as a contract, which owner’s right to fire employees can be limited. In addition, it should also have statement that says the company has right to terminate employees for reasons or no reason that are not stated in the handbook, even before with discipline or warning or without. Therefore, by having the disclaimers, it defines the nature of the handbook that shows it is not a contract of employment but at-will nature of employment. Third one that should be included is the sexual harassment and discrimination policies stating that the company has zero-tolerance for breaking all the laws that prohibit discrimination such as Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 including for sexual harassment of any kind. Additionally, it is essential to disclose the variety of types of harassment and how those are identified. Forth one is complaints. It should be well described in detail how to file complaints to resolve or work-problems such as harassment and the procedures that an employee should or must follow, which could help the problem resolve in a smooth way. Fifthly, benefits should be also included in detail including health-benefits, paid-vacations, sick-pay, and the leave policies for unpaid-leave such as serious health condition, pregnancy, or family matters. Sixth one is pay and the salaries. How the pay and salaries are set up and how it could be increased should also be included as well as the bonus program. Seventhly, hours of work stating what is the working hours and working week of the company and how overtime is compensated for those who are entitled to it should be included. Eight one is discipline. Good handbook should include description of types of conduct that all employees should comply with and can get in trouble when violating any of the conduct such as theft, bullying or and sexual harassment. So, there should be list of misconducts and the consequences to any of those. Importantly, it is important not to limit misconduct to only those that are written in the handbook. Ninthly, social networking and blogging is included. As social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkdln and Instagram became influential in our lives, employer should include policies regarding the issues that could come from social media to avoid misuse of social networking related to the workplace that could hurt the business such as breaching the company’s credential information or harassing or disparaging the company on social media. So, employers should state the limits on social media. Tenth one is attendance policy stating excused and unexcused absences, holidays, rules on rest breaks and more. Eleventh is workplace professionalism. It should be included with the work dress code, smoke-free, drug-free, violence-free, and more to make sure the employees to work in a high level of safety and security. The last one is electronic usage. For those companies providing electronic services to communicate such as company issued-cell phones, email accounts, or computers, it should be stated that employees’ privacy can be interrupted through those company owned electronic devices to earn right to monitor the usage.