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Implimenting New Policy

edited September 2009 in Human Resources
I was hired to prepare a handbook for a medical office which the Manager has hired 4 family members. The Doctor-owner wants it stated in the hand book they can not hire family members, by doing so how would I handle the current employed family memebers? They all report to the Office Manager. There has been no previous handbook nor new hire documentation signed, he took over the practice 2 years ago.
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Comments

  • edited September 2009
    How does the doctor want it handled? It would seem to be his decision not HR or payroll.

    Those 4 employees have already been hired so if the instructions are to not hire any family members going forward then there is no issue. If the owner wants to fire them simply because they are related to the office manager there is no law that says he can't, but I hope he wouldn't try to fight their unemployment benefits.
  • From an HR/legal standpoint, it is not smart to implement a policy that is already being broken or the employer knows will be broken in the future. The worst thing a company can do is to write a policy and then not follow it, because then the employee can always state that the company didn't follow their written policies -- and they could apply this to ALL the company's policies as an excuse.

    Your choices are (1) to make the policy and then immediately terminate all family members -- which could be a very bad business move, especially since they will be eligible for unemployment; (2) make the policy and grandfather those who are already employed; (3) don't make the policy, but tell the Office Manager that no more relatives can be employed and let her know that there will be consequences if she does it again.

    I would ask however what about them being relatives is causing work issues. You can solve the issues without implementing a policy. If the OM has been told NOT to hire family but is anyway, then the Doctor needs to discipline her for it. Or if the OM isn't able to manage those employees, then maybe the OM needs to be warned and/or terminated. Does the OM have the authority to hire without the Doctor's approval? Maybe that just needs to be changed.
  • Make sure to check your state law before implementing that policy. Family relationship could be a protected status, it is here in Oregon, unless it would be a supervisory position.
  • Thanks Patty! (I work at a company where the CEO/CFO/COO and myself are all related, but only the CEO is related to the actual owners so I have dealt with this too much! It can work well, but often doesn't. Hence the need for a policy!)

    I didn't bring up the protected family status, because it sounded like the Office Manager was the supervisor of the family members or at least had the ability/responsibility of hiring. But I agree it never hurts to check state laws.
  • I appricate all the suggestions. We are in California and the Doctor wants to lay-off all three. The results came back from an internal audit and they stated all three are not familiar with basic billing concepts and making huge errors. The Doctor wants all employees to sign an at-will doc. and these three refused to sign. Can we lay-off and replace with one employee which would save money and our good employees from leaving?
  • There is no requirement that the employees sign anything regarding "at will employment". In California (and all other states, except Montana and sometimes even there) employees are automatically "at will" unless there is a bona fide employment contract or CBA to the contrary.

    "Lay off" implies possible recall to work. Although a lot of companies use that term to "soften the blow" of being fired, it doesn't really explain the situation.

    "Your services are no longer required".

    BTW, I've never been a huge fan of policies for the policy's sake. If there is an issue to address, address it. If employees aren't doing the work accurately and on-time, it shouldn't make any difference whether they are relatives or not. In a perfect world, of course. :twisted:
  • Totally agree with Patty. I would just terminate their employment due to their job performance. Regardless of whether they are related to someone else or not.

    I would not call it a layoff. Unless you have documentation that they have been warned and given a chance to change their performance, you might be on the hook for unemployment, but I suspect that will be cheaper than paying for the correction of their work mistakes.

    And then you take away the hiring authority from whoever hired incompetent applicants. Again regardless of whether they are family members or not. If the office manager quits over their terminations, then I would look on that as good, not bad. I wouldn't implement a direct policy because you never know when a family member might actually be qualified and a good candidate, but it would be a a consideration for any applicant.
  • prdirector wrote:
    I appricate all the suggestions. We are in California and the Doctor wants to lay-off all three. The results came back from an internal audit and they stated all three are not familiar with basic billing concepts and making huge errors. The Doctor wants all employees to sign an at-will doc. and these three refused to sign. Can we lay-off and replace with one employee which would save money and our good employees from leaving?


    A thought or two:

    First, are the performance issues documented? Has there been any discussion with the employees regarding their errors and knowledge gaps- have they been given a chance to improve? If the issues haven't been documented and discussed with the three employees, terminating them and replacing with one makes me leery, regardless of at-will in CA. Especially if any one of them is over age 40- could be seen as a violation of the ADEA at the Federal level and FEHA at the State level. California Supreme Court and the Federal courts have set the precedent that the replacement worker wouldn't have to be younger, either, to fall under ADEA. In the absence of pretext (documented performance issues) subtext (age, regardless of whether that's true or not) could easily get an attorney to take the case.

    If any one of the three are over 40, I'd slow down, do a few write-ups with an improvement deadline, and wait.
  • I think webby has some good points, but I also think he's (she's?) being overly cautious.
  • pattypa wrote:
    I think webby has some good points, but I also think he's (she's?) being overly cautious.

    I'm a she :P

    I probably am overly cautious in general. Most of my HR career has been in California, and in my experience there's no such thing as overly cautious when dealing with issues in that state. CA and CA labor law attorneys are vicious, and law definitely favors the employee when issues are on the gray side...
  • Webby, you sound like a great source of information concerning the State of California. Please stick around and share your wealth of knowledge with us. :D
  • PayLady wrote:
    Webby, you sound like a great source of information concerning the State of California. Please stick around and share your wealth of knowledge with us. :D


    Thanks! Yes, I like this board- great source of info, fun people, and I highly enjoy the snark factor that pops up occasionally (and deservedly).
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