There are basic ground rules to hiring and firing employees. There are legal requirements to acquiring or terminating employees. If handled incorrectly, personnel issues can result in legal problems. These legal problems can be large enough to shut your business. It is important to make sure all your bases are covered. In addition to the do's and don'ts listed below, contact the Georgia Department of Labor for more on correct hiring and firing policies.
APPLICATION AND HIRING
- Ask obvious questions. It is against the law to ask questions regarding sex, age, race, etc. or anything related to these areas. These are sensitive areas and cannot be used as discriminating factors. Some applicants may believe that all gathered information is used. It is for this reason that you should not ask these questions. It is best to avoid these topics so as to eliminate all possibility of legal problems.
- Write on the job application form. Any notes taken during interviews should be made on photocopies or other paper. This allows you to preserve the original application without marring it for your permanent records. Anything written on the original application can be used against you in a court of law.
- Limit your interview questions to job duties and behavioral questions. There is no reason to ask questions that do not apply to the responsibilities of the position. You may ask if an applicant has any barriers to completing the duties. Ask questions about how the person would react in work related situations. Small talk is acceptable if the interviewer is careful. Do not venture into conversation that might produce seemingly discriminatory information.
- Make sure all company procedures follow employment statutes. Have your advisors or attorney review your system for application, hiring, and termination before you begin hiring and periodically thereafter.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF!!!!! The best way to prevent problems is to be familiar with the law. When you are in doubt about any issue concerning labor or safety, contact the Georgia Department of Labor. See the Resource Directory for contact information.
- Review company policies. If you have not yet developed company policies regarding application, hiring, and termination, call the GDOL. Make a checklist of your procedures. Make sure that you have followed the rules in the firing process. If you have not completed your checklist, YOU SHOULD NOT TERMINATE THE EMPLOYEE YET. Take care to finish all steps in the process to alleviate any questions and possible legal repercussions.
- Have a stated code of expected employee behavior- an employee handbook. Many employers face problems due to unclear expectations of conduct. It is easier to prove reasons for termination if such a code is in place. This documentation will be helpful if you are faced with paying restitution because it will show that you had sufficient cause to terminate the employee.
- Conduct an exit interview. This allows you to tie up any loose ends. Final paychecks can be issued, and company property (e.g. keys, paperwork, and files) can be returned. Ask the employee what he/she liked or disliked about your company. Ask for feedback on aspects of your company of which this person has knowledge. This person might be a bit more forthcoming with problems or constructive criticisms than someone who still works there.
- Keep termination of an employee between you (management) and the employee. The fired employee will appreciate your discretion in this matter. Termination should not be discussed with other employees. Privacy can help you avoid harsh feelings and legal repercussions.
- Have employees sign a release. If you are offering the fired employee severance pay or anything else of value, have him/her sign a release of liability to the company. This may protect you in case of legal action.
Where to Find Your Labor Force
There are many resources through which one can find employees. The first things that typically come to mind are the classified advertisements in local newspapers. You can place ads in these publications for week long and even month long periods. Contact the publication you wish to use for more specific information. The Georgia Department of Labor is an agency that can assist you in finding employees. For more information on how the GDOL can help you, call (770) 535-5484.
Other places you might contact are the University of North Georgia, Lanier Technical College, and North Georgia Technical College. If you are a member of the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce you can register your job opening with us as well.