It is not easy to run a small business. Besides ensuring your customers are satisfied, you must also make sure you are doing right by your employees. You need well-drafted policies and procedures for effective staff and health & safety management. You also must ensure that your business is operating in compliance with the law.
This blog discusses the biggest legal risks businesses could face and how to protect against them.
Accidents and injuries in the workplace
It is important that employers take all reasonable precautions to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in the workplace. If a worker is injured due to your negligence and non-compliance with health and safety regulations, you may have to pay huge fines or even face closure of business.
To minimize the risk of workplace accidents and keep your employees safe, we recommend that you:
Conduct regular risk assessments
Risk assessments are pivotal to workplace health and safety. They help identify potential hazards (physical or psychological), the risks associated with those hazards and ways to manage those risks by putting in place appropriate safety controls.
Put safety controls in place
Identify what kind of safety controls would work best to eliminate, substitute, and reduce the different hazards identified during the risk assessment.
Provide regular training to staff
Teach your employees how to perform their work safely to reduce the risk of injuries. Depending on your industry, make sure you provide your employees with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses, protective clothing, or hard hats.
Have an airtight health & safety policy
Your health and safety policy should outline the workplace measures implemented to protect staff. It’ll also help your employees understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to maintaining health and safety in the workplace. You should review your workplace healthy and safety policy annually.
Discrimination and harassment claims
It is prohibited to discriminate against an individual or group on a ground protected under applicable human rights legislation. The protected grounds include their age, race, place of origin, marital status, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, to list a few.
As an employer, you must take steps to prevent discrimination in your workplace.
We recommend that you:
Provide anti-discrimination training to staff
Educate your employees on what constitutes discrimination and the types of behaviour that are offensive and prohibited, such as demeaning comments, obscene remarks, deliberately excluding some employees from workplace social activities, etc. Make it clear that your company has a zero-tolerance policy towards bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
Establish a complaint protocol
Set a clear protocol for employees to report instances of workplace bullying, harassment, and discrimination. Managers and supervisors should also be trained on how to address such complaints.
Have an up-to-date anti-bullying, harassment and discrimination policy
Under health & safety and human rights legislation, workers are entitled to a safe and healthy workplace, free from bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
You should have a clear and comprehensive anti-bullying, harassment and discrimination policy to lessen the risk of litigation. Your policy should also mention the disciplinary measures that will be carried out against employees found guilty of harassing, bullying or discriminating against a co-worker.
Wrongful dismissal claims
It is critical that employers know how to manage terminations correctly to avoid wrongful dismissal claims.
You must provide notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice to the employee being dismissed in accordance with the employment standards legislation in your jurisdiction or the common law.
Your reason for terminating the employment cannot be based on a protected ground under applicable human rights legislation. Or because the employee asked questions about the employment standards law or applicable health and safety legislation, or exercised their rights under these laws, such as taking a leave of absence or refusing unsafe work.
If you are terminating an employee with cause (such as wilful misconduct, wilful neglect of duty or harming the company), you are not required to provide them with notice of termination or termination pay in-lieu of notice.
But you must provide the employee with reasons for the with-cause termination and have sufficient proof to support your claim.
It is also important to handle the termination process with professionalism and empathy. Employment contracts containing valid and enforceable termination clauses can help reduce the risk of wrongful dismissal claims.
As a business, you have sensitive information to protect – trade secrets, financial records, personal information about your employees and your clients. You have a legal duty to protect the personal data you collect against theft, unauthorized access or disclosure, copying, use or modification.
Employers should educate their staff on common cybersecurity threats, such as phishing, malware, business email compromise, etc. Provide security awareness training to your employees and ensure they are aware of the procedures put in place to protect sensitive information and electronic data.
We recommend that you have a data protection policy in compliance with your jurisdiction’s data protection law. The policy should also outline the steps to take in case of a data breach.
Do you need help creating HR and health & safety policies?
Protect your business with watertight documentation and policies.
Our experts can help you develop company policies and with any HR, health and safety, and employment law advice you may need. We’ll make sure you avoid the hassle of any legal disputes. If you do face a claim, we’ll be right beside you to help you plan your next steps.
To learn more about how our services will benefit your business, call an expert today at (1) 833-247-3652.