Why is employment documentation important as an HR function? Simple: it is what decides whether the organization is living up to its commitment or not. When organizations don’t deliver what they promise, they are not held in high esteem. This is as true for business as for employee relations.

Defensibility is a hallmark of high quality employment documentation

Employment documentation seems to be governed on the adage, verba volant, scripta menant. This simply means that what is written stays and anything that is said flies. Documentation is the proof of the employer’s outlook and behavior towards the employee. That is why it has to be thorough and foolproof. It should have no ambiguity or loophole that gives an employee the opportunity to exploit should he choose to bring a lawsuit against it the organization.

Make employment documentation tight and unassailable It is only sound documentation that can defend the organization in a lawsuit. Thus, defensibility lies at the core of employment documentation. Documents that are compliant and spell out the organization’s position in relation to employment conditions are the firewall that can insulate the organization from harm during a lawsuit.

So, how should HR produce this kind of strong documentation? It should go by best practices in the industry, which are the fruit of several combined experiences and conventions. Implementation of best practices should show timing, purpose and appropriateness of content. These serve as the benchmarks that determine whether the organization is implementing best practices or not.

What should the employment documentation take into account?

·         It should be sound and clear enough to make the organization defensible should there be a lawsuit against it

·         Employee documentation should be drafted by those with the ability to anticipate what could work against the employer

·         It should demonstrate HR’s ability to understand what to document, how to document and when to document all that it needs to

·         It should also reflect the HR’s ability to determine what is not necessary to document

·         It should coalesce the elements of timing, purpose and content so that they function together

·         It should demonstrate that retaliation occurred, even when it did not

·         Employment documentation should be created after consulting with managers and should be a product of their volition

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