Top Tips For Avoiding Employment Pitfalls

Law For Non-Profits is a simple and low-barrier digital platform offered by the Pacific Legal Education and Outreach Society. It’s designed to help non-profit leaders understand their legal obligations. This tool was created for non-profits working in BC, however, many of the concepts are general in nature and apply in many provinces in Canada that have similar laws.

Building the right team is essential to meeting your goals and we’re here to help you put the right structure in place to do so. We’ve compiled a list to help you avoid the most common issues non-profits face, whether you’re looking to hire your first employee, define roles for your board of directors, or just to check to see if there are any holes in your employment policies.

Have solid job descriptions and refresh them regularly.
A job description outlines the actual day-to-day responsibilities of a position and to whom it is accountable (supervisor). Job descriptions have legal implications, are important for making decisions affecting the employment relationship, and guide the performance review process. As organizational priorities change over time, it’s important to refresh job descriptions.

Determine decision-making and lines of authority between senior team members.
Organizations should clearly define the decision making authority between senior leaders in an organization such as an Artistic Director and a General Manager. This will factor into how to monitor performance based on performance.

Know the role of the board for your organization in relation to HR.
The Board is the employer. The role of the board may change depending on the situation and size of the non-profit.

Have a contract with anyone working for and with your organization
Whether a person is an employee or a contractor, a contract should be in place to clearly define roles, responsibilities, hours, remuneration, benefits, and policies. This can resolve any future disputes and set performance criteria. The words contract and agreement are interchangeable in this context.

Implement performance reviews regularly.
A performance review evaluates how well an employee is performing the tasks set out in their job description. The evaluation criteria should be based on observable and measurable facts, rather than on opinions.

Know who is responsible for decisions about each staff member
In addition to knowing the role of the board in HR practices, policies should be in place that designate whom each worker may report to.

Develop a personnel manual or other best practices outline
A standard employee manual that clearly outlines items such as codes of conduct, privacy, conflicts of interest and more can help to set expectations and standards for your non-profit.

Keep good records, including hours worked
Employers are legally required to keep records for each employee such as wage rates, hours worked, and amounts paid from time banks.

Take special care hiring and firing, dealing with leaves, or special needs of an employee
When the time comes to terminate or lay-off a workers whether for a parental leave or it’s the end of a contract care should be taken. All workers are entitled to the protections of the Human Rights Code and special consideration arise. These situations should involve consultation with a legal professional.

Take proper statutory deductions and pay proper vacation pay.
Ensure that you understand when to treat your workers as employees and remit any tax, CPP and EI to the CRA. Full-time employees are entitled to be paid for statutory holidays and a percentage of their wages for vacation pay. These amounts vary from province to province.

Want to ensure your organization is following best practices? Try our free Employment Legal Help Guide and get instant results to address any areas of concern. You’ll be provided with a checklist, sample documents, and resources to put your organization on the path to compliance.