What Employment Documents Should You Be Concerned About?

If your startup is getting ready to hire its first employees, the following are some of the documents you should cognizant of:

– Job Applications and Offer Letters: You should be mindful of the language you include in your job offer letter, in the event you end up in court and the letter is ruled to be an implied contract that defines the employment relationship. To that end, you should also be careful of the communications you have with prospective employees, either oral or written — you don’t want to be accused of having impliedly extended a job offer, and you may want to make it clear that any job offer will only be extended explicitly and in writing. This also applies to any employment application, where you may want to make clear that merely submitting the application is not an offer or guarantee of employment.

– Employment Contract: Your employment contract should define the relationship between your company and the employee, and should cover every issue you want covered, in particular any non-disclosure/non-compete/non-solicitation agreements. You should also have a sexual harassment policy.

– Employee Manual: If you have an employment contract that you intend to be the sole document governing the relationship, you will want to make sure your manual appropriately disclaims itself as a contract, otherwise your employee manual maybe found to be an implied agreement.

– Disciplinary Records: Before you terminate a problem employee, you should have documentation evidencing the employee’s failures and your company’s efforts to correct the employee’s deficiencies.

– Government Documents: If applicable, make sure you have government documents such as I-9s, W-2s, and W-9s in order. Most importantly, make sure you have properly classified your workers as employees or independent contractors (you can even ask the IRS for a classification before you hire the worker), as classifying an employee as an independent contractor can result in significant fines if caught.