Why & When Should HR Contact Employment Lawyer?

October 29, 20191:16 pm
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Every HR professional must understand employment law in order to perform and lead successfully in an organisation. The knowledge of the law will help them whenever problems arise such as employee discrimination, harassment, complaint, etc. within the company. However, there remain some tricky issues regarding employment that HR department alone cannot elucidate. When this happens, it might need help from some legal experts such as employment lawyer.

What is an employment lawyer?

Employment lawyer, also known as labour lawyer or an attorney, is an individual who works as an in-house counsel, in private law firms, and for the government. Employers rely on employment attorney to help them comply with laws that they must follow in order to lawfully form and terminate employment relationships.

See also: Guide to Construct Better Employment Contract

A labour lawyer can help an employer save time and money as well as make sure that there is no harmful action that might disrupt the company’s stability. In-house attorney, for example, could practice employment law as part of a wider practice that meets a company’s range of legal needs.

What does an attorney cover?

To understand what you can discuss with your labour attorney, here are a few tasks and issues they are expert in, according to Lisa Guerin.

  • Employee rights

An employer can discuss and ask a lawyer to review any employment decision that will affect a large number of employees. You might also want to discuss certain sensitive employment law such as termination, classification issues, grievances, discipline measures, employment tribunal or other potential labour changes. 

  • Employee requests

Many organisations offer flexible working hours and constantly listen to employee request to make sure they are loyal and engaged in the workplace. However, some employees might submit a request that will change the terms of a contract in which an employer can approve or reject. When doing so, there will likely be an internal conflict between employer and employees, thus, asking legal advice from a lawyer is advisable.

  • Documents review

An employment attorney is an expert in employment law so if there is changing policy, contacts or agreement that directly or indirectly involve the whole organisation staff, HRD should seek advice from a lawyer to make sure that they contain all the necessary legal terms and will be enforced by a court. Labour lawyer will also check whether your new policy has any language that might cause problems later or if you have gone beyond what the law requires of you.

When to call an employment attorney?

Under certain circumstances, an employer is advised to contact an attorney in order to make sure that everything is in the right place and that no wrong decision/move is taken. The circumstances include the following points.

  • When the company is threatened with a lawsuit on the basis of mistreatment, unlawful overtime, discrimination, hazardous work conditions, or any wrongful action.
  • When there is an employee filing a complaint about discrimination or harassment against the employer.
  • When company plans to layoff or fire a large number of employees, terminate employees benefit, or change the current pension plan.
  • When employees have brought a cause of action against the employer regarding employment-related matter.
  • When there is an unannounced visit from the department of labour.
How much does a lawyer cost?

When hiring a labour lawyer, there is considerable cost you should pay. The cost will depend on the details of employment case, lawyer’s skills, the union you belong to, and your company region. Based on LegalMatch, there are five types of fee schedules in which an attorney you hire will charge you.

  1. Hourly fees which are commonly used by most of attorney. This option will depend on a lawyer’s experience and location. Cheaper price might be better for you financially, but a more expensive and experienced lawyer can handle your case better.
  2. Flat fees are charged when the service being provided are more predictable, thus, an employer must ask lawyer exactly what service and expenses are and are not covered in their flat fee to avoid unsatisfactory collaboration.
  3. Contingent fees in which lawyer will not charge you but he/she will earn a percentage of the settlement or judgment if any is rewarded. However, in some cases, contingent fees are prohibited. You better ask the attorney first before hiring them.
  4. Retainer fees are advanced payment based on an hourly rate. This payment is refundable if not used by the lawyer.
  5. Statutory fees are fees set by law. Some legal work requires the court to set or approve the fee.

Read also: What TO DO When Ministry of Labour Visit Your Company?