Anna Flewelling
Anna Flewelling, Employment Law Attorney

Running a business is complicated.  Managing your employees doesn’t have to be.  An employer lawyer can help you stay on top of the changing rules and regulations, draft employment agreements, and help create policies to keep your employees safe and happy and your business thriving.  Here are four ways an employment lawyer is a crucial partner for your business.

1.  The laws, rules and regulations around employment law and benefits are constantly changing.  Staying on top of these changes can help your business avoid costly employee complaints.

In the past two years, the Virginia General Assembly has made substantial changes to rules governing private employers.   Some of the major changes include:

  • Since July 2020, non-compete agreements have been non-enforceable for all low-wage workers in Virginia.  A low wage worker is currently considered to be anyone making less than $67,000 a year.  Employers can face steep penalties for trying to enforce a non-compete.
  • Use independent contractors?  Make sure you aren’t inadvertently making them into employees.  A 2020 change to the Virginia independent contractor laws forces big penalties onto employers who misclassify workers.
  • In 2020, the Virginia Values Act expanded the Virginia Human Rights Act to prevent discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, pregnancy, gender, military status, having hairstyles historically associated with race.  It also increased the causes of actions for employees with allegations of violations of the Human Rights Act and now impacts businesses with as few as five employees.
  • In 2021, the Human Rights Act was expanded again to include protections based on disability and military status and for domestic workers
  • The overtime provisions changed in 2020 and then back again in 2022, realigning Virginia Law with the Federal Labor Standards Act, with a couple of key exemptions related to expanded causes of actions for Virginia workers and heightened penalties for employers.   The statute of limitations for overtime claims in Virginia is 3 years.
  • Virginia law now requires that employers give leave to employees who need to attend eviction proceedings.

Dunlap Law is committed to staying on top of all the latest employment law updates from Richmond and Washington, D.C.

2.  A well-written employment contract can lay the groundwork for a great employee/employer relationship.  A bad employment contract can lead to some major issues if things go wrong.

Being clear from the outset of an employee/employer relationship is crucial.  A good employment lawyer will work with you to develop a vision for the relationship and clarify the scope of the employment.  Further, given the changes in Virginia Law outlined above, careful drafting of the employment agreement will avoid the statutory and regulatory pitfalls that have arisen and will help create a contract that is concise and enforceable.

Being unclear about issues such as work product, confidentiality, revenue targets, and non-solicitation will cause headaches later on when the employee/employer relationship terminates and could potentially cost your business in lost revenue.

The attorneys at Dunlap Law bring years of experience drafting and reviewing employment agreements for organizations of all shapes and sizes and will tailor the agreement to best fit your business and your employee.

3.  An employee handbook will help set clear standards for all your employees, but careful drafting of the handbook is a must. 

Did you know that an employee handbook can be a contract between you and your employees?  Courts have consistently ruled that unless a handbook has specific language stating otherwise, a employee handbook can be construed as a contract.  This is why careful drafting is so important.

An effective employee handbook is crucial for employers of all shapes and sizes.  The handbook will outline company protocols and benefits; additionally, it will provide all the necessary notices required by the various regulatory authorities. It provides uniformity across departments and promotes transparency.  Some common provisions of an employee manual include the following:

  • Vacation and Sick leave
  • Benefits
  • Dress Code
  • Technology usage
  • Breaks
  • Safety
  • Remote and flex time
  • Employee Wellness

An experienced employment lawyer from Dunlap Law will work with your business to make sure that your employee handbook is clear and concise, containing all the pertinent information, and preventing any contractual disputes related to its content.

4.  The COVID-19 pandemic has changed working life forever and navigating the new landscape can be difficult.

Has your company decided to keep working remotely, or are you operating under a hybrid model of in-person and remote?  What happens if some of your employees have moved and are now working from home in another state?

Are you confused about vaccination requirements or looking to create or amend your companies’ policies on employee vaccination?

Are you looking to adjust your family and sick leave policies?

Are you struggling to find workers and need to amend your overtime policies for those employees that remain?

An attorney at Dunlap Law can help answer all these questions and can help your business create policies and procedures that make sense for your business and employees and conform to Federal and State rules.

Ready to add an employment lawyer to your team?  Call Dunlap Law for a consultation.  In the meantime, subscribe to our YouTube channel and to our newsletter to receive alerts on new blog posts about employment law and other topics that can help your business thrive.

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