Employees can be your biggest asset, if you hire the right people. This can often be one of the biggest decisions that you make as a business owner or employer. The “right” employee will be key to the success of your business and the “wrong” employee will bring cost and difficulty to you workplace. That is why it is important to keep the following points in mind when hiring, and firing, employees:   

  1. Know your candidate. Always interviews your employee personally. Ensure that proper and thorough reference checks and any other checks necessary for the position (e.g. criminal background check) are completed. Know what background checks you can request, limitations on questions you can ask and what social media searches you can perform.
  2. Structure the relationship. Both employer and employee should be clear about the structure of the employment relationship. Is your employee full-time, part-time or a term employee? Will the employee work in a specific department? Who will the employee report to? How will the employee be paid? Will there be a probationary period? 
  3. Have a contract in writing. An employment contract can be as simple as a letter of offer so long as it sets out the obligations of both the employer and the employee. Key clauses will include termination and notice provisions and any restrictive covenants or other limitation clauses that are required. Proper drafting prior to hire will ensure enforceability if the clause must later be tested.
  4. Communicate your workplace policies. Policies will only protect you if your employees are aware of the policies. For this reason it is essential that new employees sign a copy of each policy or a policy handbook provided to them. 
  5. Keep your employees safe. Provide training and instruction on workplace requirements (attire, procedure, etc.), especially those designed to ensure employee safety and be sure to highlight any potential hazards specific to your workplace. 
  6. Use restrictive covenants when appropriate. If your new employee will have high-level access to your clients or classified information about your business, consider including a non-solicitation or non-competition clause in your employment agreement. Proper drafting of such clauses will be key to ensuring that you may rely upon them if necessary in future.
  7. Know when it is time to terminate. Employees can be terminated for just cause or can be terminated without cause if reasonable notice is provided. Do not let floundering employees linger. Make tough decisions in a timely manner. 
  8. Know your Human Rights responsibilities. Employers are required to accommodate individuals with illnesses, disabilities or other characteristics protected by statute. Termination may not be appropriate until multiple forms of accommodation have been attempted or until it is clear the employment contract has been frustrated.
  9. Know how much notice is required. Employees terminated without cause are generally entitled to common law notice, unless the contract of employment has limited the liability in this regard to the statutory, or a higher, minimum. Common law notice is based on a number of factors including age, length of service, position, other available jobs, etc. A properly drafted clause in your employment contract can help you to limit the amount that must be paid at the end of the employment relationship.
  10. Document, Document, Document. Documents relating reason for the termination and the employer’s decision to terminate should be kept, including original notes from interviews with employees.