Social Media and Hiring Practices – Five Things to Watch Out For

Almost everyone has a social media presence, including your potential new hires. Many employers research an applicant’s social media accounts as part of the screening and interview process. However, including social media in the screening and background process can have risks. If an employer is not careful, the employer could violate an applicant’s legal rights by checking the applicant’s social media accounts without the applicant’s consent. A South Carolina labor and employment lawyer can help you develop a process for including social media accounts in your background checks without violating any laws.

The Five Don’ts of Using Social Media Screening as Part of Your Hiring Process

1. DON’T use personal information that could violate federal employment laws.

Some information you may discover on social media accounts could violate federal employment laws depending on how you use the information. For example, employment discrimination based on color, sex, race, national origin, or religion is against the law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects applicants of a certain age and applicants with disabilities.

If you view private social media accounts before holding an interview or making a hiring decision, it could be difficult to prove that the personal information did not influence your hiring decision.

2. DON’T use internal human resource employees to research social media.

By hiring an outside screening agency to research social media accounts, you ensure that the person reviewing the account is not involved in the hiring process. Therefore, no one in your company has access to any personal information that may be protected by state or federal employment laws. However, you need to make sure that you comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act if you use an outside company to perform background checks.

3. DON’T forget to disclose your intent to access social media accounts to potential employees.

If you intend to review social media accounts during any phase of the hiring process, you need to add a notice on your company’s employment application form stating that the company may access social media accounts for business-related purposes only.

4. DON’T forget to keep detailed records.

Maintain records and keep copies of all social media accounts you access during the hiring process to prove that all information accessed was business-related, such as an applicant’s employment history, education, and special credentials.

5. DON’T use social media searches without a strict policy.

The process of checking social media accounts must be very strict, and you must be consistent in how you use social media as part of your hiring process. You need to ensure that you check social media accounts for all applicants at the same point in the hiring process. Checking applicants’ social media accounts during different phases of the hiring process could result in allegations of discrimination.

Contact a South Carolina Business and Corporate Law Attorney for Help

One of the best ways to avoid problems with social media background checks is to meet with a South Carolina business and corporate law attorney in the process of developing your procedures and policies. Schedule a consult with a member of our team at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A. today. Because social media accounts include a great deal of personal information, it can be easy to violate an applicant’s legal rights without intending to do so. An attorney can help you develop a method for taking advantage of the benefits of including social media accounts in the hiring process without increasing your risk of liability for violating employment or other laws.

Three Things You Didn’t Know About Employee Handbooks

Employee handbooks can be useful tools for employers to define policies and procedures. A well-drafted employee handbook can proactively address many of the issues that arise in the workplace. A concise, effective employee handbook may avoid disputes and lawsuits. However, employers can run into problems if they do not seek legal guidance from a South Carolina labor and employment lawyer before they finalize and implement their employee handbook.

What is an Employee Handbook?

An employee handbook is a collection of company policies and procedures that help define the employee-employer relationship. A handbook provides employees with information, guidelines, and expectations related to their employment with the company. Effective handbooks are a tool to assist employers when disputes arise. An employer can turn to the employee handbook to point to the exact provision that resolves the dispute.

Common policies and procedures included in an employee handbook include:

  • Salary, wage, and hourly income guidelines
  • Policies related to harassment, discrimination, and sexual harassment
  • Disciplinary guidelines
  • Sick leave, PTO (paid time off), and vacation policies
  • Health insurance, retirement, and other employee benefits
  • Policies and procedures related to the termination of employment

An effective employee handbook is tailored to the business. Many of the templates or premade employee handbooks are not very useful for employers in South Carolina. They may be a guideline for creating a handbook, but employers can create problems for themselves if they are not familiar with the laws related to employee-employer relationships.

Three Key Things Employers Need to Remember When Creating Employee Handbooks

1.    Creating Unintended Employment Contracts

South Carolina is an “at will” work state. Employers can terminate employment for any reason and at any time provided the termination is not illegal under any state or federal anti-discrimination laws or other employment laws.

An employee handbook must contain a statutorily-mandated disclaimer to preserve the “at-will” relationship between an employer and employee. The disclaimer notifies the employee of the “at will” employment status. The statute requiring the disclaimer is very specific about the wording, placement, and acknowledgment of the disclaimer in the employee handbook.

2.    Overuse of Definitive Language in Disciplinary Procedures

Many employers use definitive language when they outline disciplinary procedures.  The use of words, including will, shall, and must, can limit an employer’s options for deciding whether certain offenses warrant the most severe disciplinary action or may only require a verbal warning. Definitive language can also create problems if the employer fails to include the correct “at will” disclaimer at the beginning of the handbook. An employer may have difficulty terminating employment until the employer goes through each “shall” or “must” disciplinary action described in the handbook.

3.    Discussing Employment Laws That Do Not Apply to the Employer

Many of the employment laws that apply to larger companies do not apply to small businesses. However, discussing or referring to employment laws that do not apply to the company in the employee handbook could subject the company to those laws and regulations.

Contact a South Carolina Business Attorney for Help

Because South Carolina has very specific laws related to employer-employee relationships, it is important that an employee handbook is compliant with state laws, in addition to federal employment laws.  A South Carolina labor and employment lawyer can provide the guidance and advice a company needs as it drafts and implements employee policies and procedures. Contact us today to schedule a consult.

If My Employees Didn’t Read the Employee Handbook, Am I Still Legally Bound?

Unless you sit in a room with an employee who is required to read the entire employee handbook aloud, you can never be sure if an employee has read the handbook. A South Carolina labor and employment lawyer will probably tell you that this procedure would be impractical. Instead, most employers require employees to sign an acknowledgment that they have read the handbook and received a copy of the handbook, which covers the employer even if the employee does not read the handbook. Courts will likely rule with the employer if the employee claims he or she signed the acknowledgment without reading the handbook.

South Carolina is an At-Will Work State

On the other hand, an employer is typically bound to the policies and procedures in the handbook because the employer presented the handbook to employees stating the handbook contains policies and procedures used by the company in various situations. This would be the case even if the employee did not read the handbook.

Because South Carolina is an “at will” work state, employers must include statutorily mandated language in the front of a handbook notifying the employee of the “at will” employer-employee relationship. An employee is required to sign the acknowledgment. Failing to include the “at will” acknowledgment pursuant to the statutory requirements could create an unintended employment contract, which could make it difficult for an employee to terminate the employee without cause or “at will.”

Employees Who Refuse to Sign an Acknowledgment

Employers cannot force employees to sign an acknowledgment in an employee handbook.  If an employee refuses to sign an acknowledgment for the handbook, the employer can refuse to hire the employee. An employer may have the employee write “refuse to sign” instead of signing the handbook or have a representative write “employee refused to sign an acknowledgment.”

However, many employers view the refusal to sign an acknowledgment of an employee handbook as a negative indication of how the employee may perform or fit in with the company, so they do not hire a person who refuses to sign an acknowledgment of the handbook.

What Should a Handbook Acknowledgment Include?

The “at will” acknowledgment is separate from an acknowledgment that the employee read and accepts the terms and policies contained in the handbook. A handbook acknowledgment should include terms such as:

  • The handbook does not create a legal document or an employment contract. This language may be taken from the at-will acknowledgment in the front of the handbook.
  • An acknowledgment that the employee has received a copy of the handbook; has read the handbook; and, understands the information contained in the handbook. A clause should also be added that states the employee acknowledges it is his or her responsibility to read the entire handbook.
  • The version number and the effective date of the handbook.
  • A statement explaining that the policies and procedures contained in the handbook are subject to change.
  • A statement that the acknowledgment will be retained in the employee’s file.
  • A place for the employee to print his or her name, add a signature, and date the signature.

It is also wise to develop a procedure for distributing updates to the employee handbook and seeking written acknowledgment from employees of the changes to the handbook.

Consult a South Carolina Labor and Employment Lawyer for Help with Your Employee Handbooks

Employment law can be difficult to understand. Even though the state is an “at will” work state, employers should be careful when preparing employee handbooks. Using a template or a DIY employee handbook can create costly and time-consuming legal problems in the future. Schedule a consult with a South Carolina labor and employment lawyer for help in drafting and implementing an employee handbook for your company.

Does Your Company Have a Workers’ Compensation Procedure in Place?

Workers’ compensation is designed to provide benefits to employees who are injured on the job or suffer a workplace illness. Most employers in South Carolina are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. If you have employees and are unsure about your workers’ compensation procedures, you may want to contact a South Carolina labor and employment lawyer to discuss what you should do.

Employers Required to Post Notice of Workers’ Compensation Coverage

If you are an employer operating under the workers’ compensation laws in South Carolina, you must post a form entitled Employer’s Notice of Being Subject to the Act. The form provides information about workers’ compensation rights and must be posted in a place where your workers would normally see the poster. The notice provides information about how to report a workplace injury, including the name of your workers’ compensation carrier, the carrier’s address, and the claims telephone number.

The notice instructs employees to report injuries to their employer “at once.” This should be reflected in your company’s employee policy and procedure manual, along with a notice that the employee should tell the doctor that the employee is covered by workers’ compensation. Employees should also be instructed to notify the workers’ compensation provider listed on the notice or the S.C. Workers’ Compensation Commission if the employee experiences problems or undue delays with the claim.

As an employer, you are also responsible for creating procedures for reporting injuries or illnesses. For example, an employer may have an accident report it wants employees to use to report injuries or an employee may be instructed to report accidents to supervisors who in turn file reports with management.

If an employer or an insurance provider denies a workers’ comp claim that was reported according to the steps provided by the S.C. Workers’ Compensation Commission, the worker is entitled to contact the Commission and a South Carolina employment attorney.

Four Facts You Need to Know About a South Carolina Workers’ Comp Claim

1.    Injuries must be reported within 90 days. Failure to report the accident and injury within 90 days could result in a claim being denied.

2.    Employers can choose the doctor. By law, as an employer, you can choose the doctor who treats your workers’ injuries. You or the insurance provider may approve a different doctor, but employees should be notified that they should request permission before seeing another doctor, or they may be responsible for the costs.

3.    Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault system. In most cases, an employee’s negligence does not prevent the employee from receiving workers’ comp benefits.

4.    The workers’ compensation carrier pays the employees benefits. Employers typically are not responsible for the payment of workers’ comp benefits. The workers’ comp insurance provider is responsible for paying workers’ comp benefits. Therefore, employees often deal directly with the workers’ comp carrier regarding claims and benefits.

Contact the South Carolina Employment Attorney If You Have Questions

Failure to have adequate policies and procedures in place regarding workers’ compensation benefits can cost you dearly if one of your employees is injured on the job. For assistance in creating or reviewing your policies, schedule a consult with a member of our team at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A. today.

10 Things Every Company Policy & Procedures Manual Should Have

You know you need a company Policy and Procedures Manual for your human resources department, but you do not know where to begin. It can be difficult to know what policies and procedures to include in a manual if you have never developed an HR manual before. Engaging the help of a South Carolina labor and employment lawyer can help you as you begin developing your company’s manual. In the meantime, here are some things to consider.

Policies and Procedures for Human Resources Manuals

Your manual should contain the policies and procedures your HR department must follow when dealing with employee-related issues. The manual is a reference and a tool that helps HR employees and managers as they navigate the sometimes sensitive issues related to your employees. It also contains forms and checklists that your HR department needs to perform its role in your company.

Some of the information contained in the manual duplicates the information in your employee handbook, but the manual provides much more detailed information that employees do not necessarily need to know. The manual ensures that your HR policies and procedures are not vague and do not allow for any interpretation that could result in legal problems and lawsuits.

Ten topics that you should always cover in your HR Policies and Procedures Manual are:

1.    Pregnancy Discrimination — It can be difficult to know how to handle situations involving pregnant employees. Because pregnancy is considered a form of temporary disability, you must be very careful about how you handle issues such as reductions in job duties and time away from work. The EEOC has detailed information on its website regarding pregnancy discrimination.

2.    Anti-Discrimination Policies — This section should include policies related to all forms of discrimination. You may combine the pregnancy discrimination section in this section, but many companies have a separate section for pregnancy discrimination since it has become an issue for many companies.

3.    Email Use — The use of company email systems should be clearly defined in your policies and procedures manual and your employee handbook. HR managers need a detailed guide regarding the use of company email so that they can spot and correct the inappropriate use of email within the company.

4.    Ethics and Conduct — The section on ethics and conduct should cover issues such as harassment, workplace violence, dress codes, workplace civility policy, possession of weapons, and drug policies. The ethics and conduct portion of the manual will be tailored to your specific industry and company values.

5.    Compensation — This section of the manual usually covers general rules regarding compensation, including salary adjustments, overtime policies, the establishment of the work week, compensatory time, promotions, the definition of full-time employment, and maximum pay grades for specific jobs and positions.

6.    Employee Benefits — The employee handbook contains an explanation of the various employee benefits your company offers. The HR manual should go into each benefit in further detail to provide information HR managers need should questions related to benefits arise.

7.    Attendance Policies — As with the benefits, your HR manual needs to go into greater detail regarding attendance policies. For example, how are requests for religious holidays handled, what is the definition of a serious health condition, when is a return to work certification required, and, when is bereavement leave granted?

8.    Separation From the Company — Topics to include in this section include policies and definitions related to resignations, terminations, appeal of terminations, eligibility for re-employment, alternate job placement, job abandonment, and death of employees.

9.    Complaints and Grievances — In this section, you need to cover what constitutes a valid complaint or grievance and the process for moving complaints and grievances through the management system, especially complaints regarding discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

10.  Procedures for Disciplinary Actions and Appeals — To avoid claims of discrimination, a detailed policy and procedure for reprimanding employees and taking disciplinary action must be developed and uniformly utilized throughout the company. An employee handbook should give the basic steps in this process, but the HR manual goes into greater detail about the process for reprimanding and dismissing employees and how an employee can appeal the action.

Contact a South Carolina Business Attorney if You Have Questions

Developing a company Policy and Procedures Manual can be tricky. You need to ensure the terms you include in your HR manual protect your company while you avoid violating various laws and regulations. The above items are just a small example of the policies and procedures a company should include in its HR manual.

A South Carolina business attorney can help you develop policies and procedures that benefit your company and translate those policies and procedures into a comprehensive manual that guides your human resources department employees in performing their jobs. Contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA to discuss your policies and procedures today.

Is Your Company Making These Hiring Mistakes?

Starting a business is an exciting venture. However, for many new business owners, hiring employees is a stumbling block that can have long-term consequences for the company. Even established companies sometimes run into problems when expanding their workforce.

Below are five hiring mistakes that a South Carolina employment law lawyer may be able to help you avoid with the proper planning.

Five Hiring Mistakes That Can Cost You Time and Money in the Future

1.  Failing to Have a Formal Hiring Process

When you “wing it” as you are hiring potential employees, you could run into several problems. First, you may not have a clear process for checking references and performing background checks. In many cases, a second interview may be necessary to follow up regarding certain questions or issues. When you do not have a formal hiring process, you may be tempted to hire a candidate during the first interview because you “hit it off” with the person. Only after the person begins working do you discover that his or her references or background check would have revealed serious problems that are now your problem.

2.  Hiring When You Are Desperate

A benefit of having a comprehensive business plan is that it helps you foresee when you may need to hire additional employees. In addition, you need to think ahead for your busy season so that you can begin the hiring process well in advance of your need for the employees.

When you hire employees out of desperation because you are understaffed, you are more likely to hire employees who may not be a good fit for your company. You focus on the person’s skills and experience only. However, the person may begin work and alienate your entire staff, which could cause great employees to leave.

3.  Failing to Establish Job Descriptions

Before you hire a new employee, you must have a clear job description in writing. The job description not only outlines what you expect of your new employee, but it also gives you a checklist of qualities and skills that you need to search for in a new employee. With a job description, you may have three employees who can fill the requirements for one position but have no employees who can fill the requirements for the other two positions.

4.  Failing to Identify Employment Status

It may be tempting to hire independent contractors to lower your employment taxes; however, you must be incredibly careful. Misclassifying an employee’s status could cost you much more money, time, and headaches in the future.

If you intend to hire independent contractors, it is a wise step to consult a South Carolina employment law lawyer to ensure that you are not placing any restrictions or obligations on the person that could result in the independent contractor being classified as an employee for tax purposes.

5.  Not Hiring Enough Employees

Some employers try to save money by pushing their existing employees to absorb new duties and responsibilities instead of creating new positions within the company. However, this practice can cause good employees to “burn out” and leave your company. In addition, being understaffed can lead to mistakes, lower productivity, and other problems that result in a loss of money instead of saving money.

Contact a South Carolina Employment Law Lawyer if You Have Additional Questions

If you are hiring employees for the first time, expanding your workforce, or considering hiring independent contractors, you could avoid hiring mistakes by discussing your options with a South Carolina employment law lawyer before making any big moves. Schedule a consult with a member of our team at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A. today.


How Do You Decide Whether to Mediate Employment Disputes?

Whether you’re in-house counsel or the CEO, when an employment dispute arises, it can often through a wrench into everything you’re working on. When faced with an employment complaint, it’s often the hope that it will simply go away, or resolve with a little time. Our labor and employment lawyers know that this can sometimes happen. Other times though, the dispute may escalate, forcing key players to make decisions as to how to best resolve it.

Here are some tips on how to prioritize whether and how to address employment disputes.

To Mediate or Not to Mediate – Here are the Questions

When faced with an employment complaint, the first questions to ask are these:

  1. Is the complaint unique to the individual, or does it involve a policy that applies to others?
  2. Is it likely that the issue can remain within the company, or is a lawsuit or administrative action likely?
  3. Is the issue one of primary concern to the company?
  4. What risks are involved if the company decides to ignore the complaint?

Generally, the first steps in resolving employment disputes involve internal mechanisms that (ideally) have been set up in advance. If it is determined that an employment complaint needs to be addressed, these internal mechanisms come into play. Managers, human resource personnel, or ombudspersons will facilitate discussions to negotiate a solution. At times, in-house counsel may be recruited to investigate and propose solutions. For more sensitive issues, such as sexual harassment, outside counsel or special investigators may be employed.

Once an investigation is complete, the company representative can use the evidence gathered to attempt a resolution. If a resolution is not found in a timely manner, it may be time to suggest mediation. This way, the manner can be solved confidentially, without subjecting the company to public scrutiny when a lawsuit is filed.

Mediation Clauses in Employment Contracts

Of course, having a mediation clause in employment contracts makes it simple to initiate talks of resolution early on. Company-paid mediation can also encourage complainants to disclose issues and evidence sooner. This can help resolve conflicts earlier and help the company avoid the extra costs involved in litigating a lawsuit.

Mediating Employment Disputes

If a company does decide to enter into mediation to resolve the employment dispute, there are certain formalities that must be followed, but not as many as would be required in a lawsuit. Generally, the complainant will initiate a complaint with the mediation company or agreed-upon neutral mediator. Both parties generally have the opportunity to provide the mediator with their arguments.

The mediator will consider the written or oral arguments of both sides. He or she will also consider evidence submitted by both parties. In some cases, parties will meet face-to-face in the presence of the mediator to participate in discussions. Sometimes, the mediator will take each party aside and attempt to obtain information that will help him or her facilitate a resolution.

If the mediator is successful in bringing both parties to a proposed resolution, the company must ensure that the terms are brought to the appropriate individuals for consideration before a final agreement can be made.

If your company is facing an employment dispute, contact our South Carolina labor and employment lawyers at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A.  Our South Carolina labor and employment attorneys help businesses navigate the ever-changing landscape of company law.


7 Things You Should Know About the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act

The South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act was signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster on May 17, 2018. Although existing federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating based on pregnancy, these laws do not necessarily protect employees by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related issues. The new law seeks to expand the protections by requiring employers to make certain accommodations. The law is in effect now. Therefore, you should consult our South Carolina labor and employment lawyer immediately with any questions or concerns about the protections and requirements under the new law.

What Do I Need to Know About the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act?

The Act covers employees and applicants for employment who have medical needs or medical conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Some of the requirements included in the Act are:

  1. Employers must provide certain accommodations. Employers should have accessible facilities and make reasonable accommodations, including providing accommodations for lactation-related issues. An exception would be if the employer can demonstrate the accommodation imposes an undue hardship on business operations.
  2. An employee may not be forced to take a leave of absence to avoid making accommodations. An employer cannot force an employee to take leave from work if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
  3. Employers are prohibited from taking adverse actions. If an employee requests or uses a reasonable accommodation in compliance with the law, the employer is barred from taking adverse actions related to the terms, privileges, or conditions of employment.
  4. An employee cannot be forced to accept accommodations. The employer cannot force an employee to accept an accommodation if the employee wants to perform her job duties or essential functions of the job without the accommodation.
  5. Employers must post a notice. An employer must post a notice and provide notice to new employees of the right to be free from discrimination related to pregnancy, childbirth, and other related medical conditions.
  6. Employees may not be entitled to light duty. An employer is not required to offer light duty or create a new job for an employee if the employer would not do the same for another employer with an equivalent need.
  7. Employees may not be paid for longer or more frequent break periods. Even though the Act lists longer or more frequent break periods as an example of reasonable accommodation, the Act also does not require the employer to pay the employee for these additional or longer breaks unless the break would otherwise be compensated.

To read all the provisions of the Act, you can access a copy of the bill online from the SC State House.

Contact a South Carolina Employment Lawyer

Many of the provisions of the new law are covered by other federal and state laws. However, the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act expands on some of those protections and provides specific examples of reasonable accommodations. It is important that you understand the rights and duties outlined in the Act to avoid any issues or problems.

Schedule a consult with a member of our team at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A. today. Our South Carolina employment lawyers can answer questions and provide advice regarding this new law that protects expectant mothers and mothers in the workplace.

5 Steps to Creating a Safe Environment to Report Sexual Harassment


Sexual harassment should not be tolerated in any work environment. An employer who does not take the proper steps to protect employees from sexual harassment could be held liable in a civil lawsuit. To ensure that you are taking steps to protect yourself and your employees, you need to create a safe environment for your employees to report harassment incidents. Our South Carolina labor and employment law lawyers suggest that you take the following steps as you develop your internal policies regarding harassment at work.

Five Important Steps Each Company Needs to Take to Protect Against Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

    1. Develop a Comprehensive Sexual Harassment Policy

Before you can create a safe environment for individuals to report sexual harassment, you must develop a clear company policy regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. Because your company is comprised of many individuals of different ages and backgrounds, it is important to define harassment clearly. What once was acceptable behavior 20 years ago may not be acceptable behavior today. Likewise, what is acceptable behavior in one culture may not be acceptable behavior in another culture. It can be beneficial to consult with a South Carolina business attorney who understands sexual harassment laws. The attorney can help you draft a clear and effective policy that adheres to all federal and state employment laws.

    1. Make Sure All Employees Know and Understand the Policy

Each employee should receive a copy of the company’s sexual harassment policy as part of their employment package when they are hired. A human resource officer or other supervisor assigned to handle complaints should review the policy with the employee to ensure he or she understands the company’s policy. It should be clear that the company does not tolerate any form of sexual harassment in the workplace. You should also post summaries of the policy on bulletin boards and in break rooms.

    1. Use Clear and Plain Language When Explaining How to Report a Sexual Harassment Incident

You should include clear and plain language in your policy and in the summaries notifying employees what to do if they experience sexual harassment in the workplace. There should be a clear structure for reporting instances of harassment, including whom an employee may report to if the harassment is by a direct supervisor or manager.

    1. Offer Additional Training and Education Regarding Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Hold regular meetings with groups of employees to review the company’s policy, including how to report harassment. Managers and supervisors should attend continuing education and other training seminars as a refresher on how to handle sexual harassment in the workplace. Retraining and refresher courses are often an effective way to help management understand how to respond to sexual harassment complaints by employees.

    1. Create an Open-Door Policy

Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace may hesitate to report incidents because they fear retaliation from the offender. Therefore, you should have an open-door policy whereby anyone can meet with a human resources officer to file an anonymous complaint. HR representatives should receive ongoing training in how to handle sexual harassment complaints. With an open-door policy in your HR department, employees may feel safer in meeting with an HR representative because other employees may not automatically assume the employee is meeting with HR to file a complaint about another employee. An employee could be meeting with HR to discuss benefits, additional training, or PTO requests.

Our South Carolina Business Attorney Can Help Draft Sexual Harassment Policies

It is important to create a workplace that is free from harassment in any form. To protect your company and yourself from liability, it is vital that you understand your responsibilities regarding harassment in the workplace. Schedule a consult with a member of our team at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A. today. Our South Carolina labor and employment attorneys can review the laws with you and help you develop a policy that protects your employees and your company.

Workers’ Compensation Best Practices For Employers

As the new year begins, it’s a good idea to review your workers’ compensation policies and procedures to ensure you are in line with industry best-practices. In South Carolina alone, there were over 16,000 workers’ compensation claims filed, costing employers over $800 million, according to the Department of Labor. Considering the fact that between 20% and 25% of injuries reported are fraudulent, it may be in your company’s best interests to discuss your practices with an experienced labor and employment law lawyer. In the meantime, take a look at some of the industry best practices for workers’ compensation.

Creating a Culture of Safety

Creating and fostering a culture of safety in your company begins long before you hire an employee. This type of culture is characterized by:

  • controlling who enters your organization
  • minimizing risk factors prior to the occurrence of incidents
  • clear and consistent communication

Controlling who enters your organization starts with a proper job description. Describing essential job functions can help aid in selecting ideal candidates without running afoul of the American’s with Disabilities Act. Interviews should be designed to assess experience, abilities and fit for the position. Pre-employment screenings should include: 

  • credit checks
  • drug screening
  • reference checks
  • workers compensation claim history
  • driving records
  • criminal background checks

 Get Management Visibly Involved

Establishing written policies and guidelines that are communicated from management to employees is another essential part of creating and fostering a culture of safety. These policies should be provided to new hires, reviewed annually and distributed company-wide. Comprehensive orientations can be invaluable in preventing safety issues before they become workers’ comp claims.

Creating Safety Committees

These types of committees should be empowered to observe and take action on any safety issues they may find. They also create ownership and awareness of safety throughout the workforce, especially when employees from all levels of the organization are involved.

Quick Response to Incidents 

When an injury does occur, the best thing a company can do to reduce workers’ compensation expenses is to immediately address the injury and report claims immediately to your insurer. Your workers’ comp agents are trained in handling injuries in a way that mitigates costs to your organization by hopefully avoiding adversary-type situation, and by coordinating efforts to keep the same incident from happening again.

Returning Injured Workers to the Job
Major cost factors in workers’ compensation claims are rehab and lost wages. The sooner you can return an injured employee to work, the less costs you may incur. Having a return to work (RTW) program that involves the employee, management, claims reps, and the treating physician can be instrumental in getting employees back to work safely, with minimal cost. An RTW should include:

  •  Regulatory compliance
  • Defined responsibilities
  • Prompt reporting
  • Modified work processes
  • Sound investigation
  • Designated physicians
  • Identifying Red Flags

To further minimize company costs, designated individuals should be trained to identify red flags that may indicate the presence of workers’ compensation fraud. These red flags include:

  • an accident with no witnesses
  • proximity of accident to strikes, termination or layoffs
  • conflicting accounts of the injury or accident
  • injuries reported on Monday mornings (injury could have occurred on the weekend)
  • late notice of accidents
  • refusal of medical care
  • injured employee has history of claims

These are but a few red flags to watch out for in workers’ compensation situations. If you do not have expertise in workers’ compensation issues, you could make a costly mistake. For guidance, contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A. today for a consultation.