Frequently Asked Questions for Employers
1. I’m the owner of a jewelry store. If my employees have questions they can ask me. Why do I need an employee handbook that states our policies?
An employee handbook is an important communication tool. It helps to insure that your company’s policies are uniformly understood by those who work for you. The handbook also helps establish evenhanded enforcement of policies, preventing claims of discriminatory treatment. Last, a well thought out and comprehensive handbook will help defend an employment action should a disgruntled employee file a complaint. A sample employee handbook is available in JVC’s Jewelers Employment Manual (JEM).
2. I’m about to hire a new salesperson. Do I need a job description for the position?
Yes. A job description will help you stay focused on the job requirements, allowing you to review applicants with established criteria in mind. The description will also help the new employee understand and fulfill the requirements of the job. This is important, since he or she will be measured against these requirements in performance evaluations. Read more about the hiring and evaluation process in JVC’s Guidance for Employers, included in JEM.
3. I know that to avoid a discrimination complaint by a job applicant I should be careful about the questions I ask during the interview. What subjects should I avoid?
First, all those involved in the hiring process should be trained in the equal opportunity employment laws, state and federal, that prohibit discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring. As a general rule, be certain that your questions focus on the applicant’s ability to do the job and his or her competence for the position. Exercise care regarding subjects that might be perceived as having a discriminatory inference, including appearance, personal life, ethnicity, disability, age, gender or criminal history. Read more about equal opportunity laws and the hiring process in JVC’s Guidance for Employers, included in JEM.
4. We buy and sell precious metals and stones. Because we’re concerned about security in the workplace we recently installed a video surveillance system. Does this raise any issues?
Yes. The need for workplace security must be balanced against an employee’s privacy interests. The best way to address this interest is to communicate to employees that a video surveillance system is in place, and where. This information should be contained in the employee handbook, and should also be prominently posted. Additionally, employees should sign consent forms indicated that they are aware of the surveillance and have consented to it. Last, respect privacy rights by not monitoring in very private places, such as restrooms. Read more about workplace security in JVC’s Guidance for Employers. Also find a sample Consent to Surveillance and Search. Both included in JEM.
5. We are just about to offer a job to a designer. Our plan is to produce a new line of jewelry based on her designs. How can we make sure that our company owns the rights to anything that she designs during her employment with us?
You are right to address this now, at the time of hire. The best way protect your company’s rights to her creations is to have her sign an Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement. This type of agreement makes clear that whatever she creates during her employment is a “work for hire,” meaning that the company, and not the designer, owns the copyright to the work. It also makes clear that the employee has assigned the copyright concerning the work to the company. Find a sample Non-Disclosure, Non-Solicitation, Non-Competition and Intellectual Property Assignment Agreement in JEM.
6. One of our salespeople is not working out and we need to let him go. We don’t have an evaluation process and never told him that we had any problems with his performance. And, by the way, he just informed us that he has an age-related vision problem, has trouble reading his computer monitor, and will need an accommodation. Any issues?
Yes. A fair and consistent system for evaluating performance and imposing progressive discipline is the first step to preventing and defending employment related litigation. Because you have no evaluation process, you have nothing in writing to support a termination decision. This employee might bring an employment action against you, arguing that his termination was based not on performance, but on his age, vision problem and request for an accommodation. Defending this action will be very difficult without a written evaluation record. Read more about evaluations and terminations in JVC’s Guidance for Employers. Also find a sample Severance Agreement and Release in JEM. Both included in JEM.
Check this page often for additional questions.
No part of the information in this guide is intended as legal advice.