Last Updated: 08.04.2020

As a Baltimore small business lawyer, I regularly run into situations where clients (employers) are dealing with problematic situations with employees.  Inevitably my office gets the call to provide advice on how to handle such delicate matters.  It varies from disgruntled employees to office misbehavior to downright gross misconduct in the workplace.  My advice always starts and ends with one thing: write it down.

Why a small business owner needs to document

Simply saying “write it down” is an oversimplification.  Your Baltimore Small Business should have a number of things in place, probably coinciding with the time you hire your first employee.  They are:

Baltimore small business lawyer

Bad Employees: stop them before they start

  • Keep a separate electronic or manilla folder for each and every employee you hire.  Record timesheets, absences, conduct, job application, I-9, W-4, background check, workplace injuries, etc. within that folder.
  • Having a company manual (HR manual or employee code of conduct).  See here for more.
  • Making every employee aware of your manual and provide them a signed copy from their first day on the job
  • Within that manual, have a continuum of discipline (verbal warning, written warning, termination)
  • Follow your manual!
  • Have everyone fill out a job application.  It should have background info, contact info, and:
    • Consent for a background check
    • Consent to contact your former employer (even if after they are hired)
    • References
    • Consent for random, suspicionless drug testing

If you want to conduct a background check, call our friends at Randisi & Associates.  They will guide you through the process and make sure it is all done by the book!

I-9 Forms

Keeping up with all the forms that the government requires to run your small business can be a full-time job in itself.  That’s why it is important to keep up with changes. Since May 7, 2013, there is a new I-9 form (Immigration verification form) that is to be filled out by all new employees.

No, the I-9 isn’t the interstate in California

Here is a quick primer on the subject here:

Post Gazette

The form can be found here:

I-9 form

Bottom Line:

Don’t let these forms get you down or trip you up.  Failure to properly complete the I-9 can cost your business thousands.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call your favorite Baltimore Small Business lawyer.

I’m so busy, why do I need to do all this?

Normally these records won’t see the light of day.  But for every 99 good employees, there is 1 bad one.  That bad one employee could bankrupt your business.  Baltimore Small Business owners around the region are being squeezed by high rates for unemployment insurance, worker’s comp. insurance, and employee taxes.

If you need to terminate an employee for cause, you certainly don’t want to pay any more!  Furthermore, if you end up in a lawsuit or in an administrative process and you are required by the law to justify your termination (or the lack of an injury to an employee) you will be glad you took my simple advice.

The bottom line on documentation

If you have employees, the law doesn’t require you to keep records a certain way, but they do require you to produce them in the event of a lawsuit.  If you set up good recordkeeping habits early, your small business will be able to weather any bump in the road!  If not, your Baltimore Small Business lawyer is here to help you!  Call your ENlawyers!