Legal Insight: Time for HR spring cleaning?

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Spring is officially sprung, and it’s a good time to make sure all your organizational paperwork is in order. An HR audit can help catch discrepancies, make sure important information is up to date, and prevent future problems.

“HR audits ensure regulatory and organizational policy compliance, while proactively pursuing internal efficiencies and excellence,” Labour Relations and Employment Specialist Melissa Kennedy, from McCarthy Tetrault said. “Regular and systematic audits demonstrate due-diligence to regulatory bodies and promote a proactive, preventative approach to HR issues, subsequently reducing risk and liabilities.”

Kennedy adds that having an efficient human resources process can contribute to cost reduction, increased productivity, employee engagement and continual improvement.

Here’s where to focus your attention:

Personnel Files
Ensure that the following items are included in an employee’s personnel file, where applicable:
  • Application for employment
  • Background check consent forms and subsequent results
  • Signed offers of employment, promotions, lateral position changes
  • Written agreements (e.g. excess hours of work, overtime)
  • Acknowledgement sign-offs on organizational policies (e.g. code of ethics, confidentiality and patent agreements, etc.)
  • Employee profile and emergency contacts
  • Vacation time records
  • Federal and Provincial TD1 forms
  • Direct deposit authorization forms
  • Dependent information for benefits purposes
  • Beneficiary designations (where applicable)
  • Documentation pertaining to leaves of absence (e.g. parental, family medical, personal emergency)
  • Performance appraisals
  • Documented disciplinary records
  • Termination and exit documentation
Internal Organizational Policies
Ensure that all internal policies are current, up-to-date and reflective of present realities. It is also important to ensure that employees are aware of and have been trained on new or updated policies and that copies are available.

Performance Management
An effective performance management process involves setting clear and transparent expectations for employees. Review the organization’s job descriptions in order to ensure that they are relevant and up-to-date; this will provide for appropriate goal setting aligned with the organization’s core competencies.

In order to contain costs, it is important to do a regular audit of dependents and beneficiaries, as they relate to health and welfare benefits.

Health & Safety
Review Joint Health & Safety Committee meeting minutes. Are regular meetings being held and inspections being conducted, in accordance with the Occupational Health & Safety Act? Regular meetings and inspections will seek to ensure that potential risks are identified and workplace accidents are reduced or eliminated.

Best Practice Tip…
Document, document, document! Ensuring that the organization has documented all necessary aspects of the employment relationship, from hire-to-retire, will demonstrate adherence to legislative requirements, consistency, and may be admissible as corroborating evidence during litigation, if necessary.

Melissa Kennedy is a Labour Relations and Employment Specialist with McCarthy Tetrault and assists employers with proactive compliance issues and human resources best practices.  This article was published with permission from McCarthy Tetrault’s Ontario Employer Advisor.

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