With new labour legislation being passed at Queen’s Park, employers will inevitably have a difficult time in the court system when they are faced with a barrage of accusations from employees. Not only is it expensive to operate in the province of Ontario, you now risk hefty legal fees, thanks to the government’s updated labour codes. Suffice to say, employment lawyers will experience a significant uptick in business in the years to come.

Across the province, and the rest of the Great White North, startups are forming and SMBs are trying to grow, and they are attempting to change the marketplace and satisfy consumer demand with innovative products and services.

How can they do this if they’re too entrenched in employment law? Well, that is where an employment lawyer steps in. Employment lawyers have a great deal of experience in representing businesses against grieved workers, which helps potential private enterprises learn how to deal with their staff and follow the labour laws in Ontario.

Here are five things every employment lawyer will tell startups and other SMBs:

1. Have an Iron-Clad Contract for Protection

For every new employee you hire, it is important to present a contract for them to sign. This legal document should be iron-clad that protects you in every way imaginable. To achieve this, it would be highly recommended to consult with an employment lawyer.

By having such a contract, you can’t be sued or fined by the complainant or the government.

2. Get Everything in Writing

A crucial aspect of doing business today is to get everything in writing. Whether you are demoting an employee or you are transferring an employee to a different department, you must inform them of any changes in writing, and it would be prudent if they signed a document.

Should they submit a lawsuit, you can simply show this written record to the courts.

3. Establish an Internal Office Handbook

When you want to avoid harassment, bullying, discrimination and other inappropriate behaviour, it is essential to establish an internal office handbook for both employees and management.

Essentially, the handbook should be a detailed guideline of how you are expected to conduct yourself in the workplace, what is permitted and what course of action will be taken if that person violates any of the measures inside of the handbook.

Moreover, after you have added someone to your team, get them to read it and sign a document confirming that they have read it.

4. Reprimand Staff for Intolerant Behaviour

Did the employee say something racist? Did the staff member sexually harass a colleague? Did the worker watch pornography at work? Whatever the case may be, if they have violated any of your office policies, they must be reprimanded immediately.

For instance, especially in today’s toxic environment, if a female employee informs you that a male employee made several inappropriate comments and even touch their leg, then you must probe the matter and then take the necessary action: termination.

5. Hire an Experienced Human Resources Professional

A startup may lack the resources, and an SMB may have a tight budget, but one of the best ways to protect yourself from legal troubles is to have an expert human resource professional in your employ. They may not need to have a full-time position, but any type of role is better than nothing at all. And, indeed, it is a wise investment to have, particularly in the modern world.

Startups and SMBs are already having a difficult time raising capital, generating revenues, posting a profit and keeping the doors open. They don’t need legal cases in front of them by disgruntled workers, grieved past workers or applicants who feel wronged. Once you sit down with an employment lawyer, they will go through the common cases, how you can shield yourself from unwanted publicity or lawsuits and what policies you should institute right away.

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