Monday, February 27, 2012

Being an Employer…..I’m Liable for WHAT?

If you have a part-time helper, just one assistant or an entire staff of teachers you are an employer.  Being an employer can involve more risks than we generally realize in childcare.  While we may have a great grasp of all of the licensing regulations, most of us don’t have enough experience in Human Resources (HR).  Sometimes it feels like we need an advanced degree in HR just to get through a hiring process, not to mention, goodness forbid, a termination process.

My company has been an employer for about 11 years and it has always come with a certain amount of drama.    We have learned that no good deed goes unpunished.  Even your best intentions can come with ruinous results.   With that said, it is critical to have solid policies and procedures in place and to use them consistently and without fail as an employer.  Another safety measure is to have some type of legal counsel to call upon when (not if) a question arises.  Another layer of protection for your business is to secure Employment Practices Liability (EPL) insurance.

A few years ago we secured EPL insurance and since then, I have been sleeping more soundly.  Although we have always tried to do what we believed to be right, we are still at risk for an employee to file a lawsuit or other claim.  The employee doesn’t have to be right or accurate to file a claim – but it will cost you money to defend yourself.  An EPL policy can help protect you from claims, whether they are true or false.  

Complaints can come from employees, former employees or employment applicants.  EPL is designed to protect your business against damages for events relating to the workforce, including but not limited to allegations of: wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, discrimination, defamation and unfair hiring/firing lawsuits.  Complaints filed in relation to these types of lawsuits have been on a steady and rapid rise.  Current court cases are making it easier for employees to be successful in retaliation cases.  

You will want to at least look into EPL policies to evaluate if it will be cost effective for your business (even if you have only 1 employee).  Your insurance broker can most likely point you in the right direction, or click the link below to contact our provider, Slater and Associates, for quotes and guidance.

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