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Schaumburg IL employer defense attorneyAs an employer, you may assume that what your employees do off the clock is none of your business. While this is true to a certain degree, your employees are an extension of your business. Consequently, the actions that your employees take online can reflect on your company. This is especially true when employees post information about business matters on social media. A clear, understandable social media policy is crucial to protecting your company’s reputation and preventing sensitive company information from being shared online.

Protecting Proprietary and Confidential Information

Employees often have access to confidential information like customer contacts, employee personnel files, proprietary business practices, trade secrets, and sensitive financial information. One of the key concerns regarding social media is that employees will intentionally or unintentionally share confidential information online. Your social media policy should address what information is confidential and explain clearly that this information may not be posted online. Remind employees that social media messages, posts, and pictures may still be accessible by others even if their account is set to “private.” In some cases, a social media policy alone is insufficient. You may also need to use a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement to ensure that sensitive information is not leaked online.

Protecting Your Company’s Brand and Reputation

Anything your employees do or say online can reflect on your business. Whether they are complaining about a rude customer, commenting on their work uniform, or sharing a picture from inside the facility, word travels fast online. Something that an employee shares can quickly go “viral.” Your company’s brand can be irrevocably damaged in a matter of days or even hours. Even if the employee deletes the post, screenshots or archived versions of the website may still exist online.

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Schaumburg employment lawyerConcerns over the spread of COVID caused many employers to transition to remote work. Although many workplaces are returning to a sense of normalcy, some employers are choosing to continue remote work. Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Spotify have officially decided to extend work-from-home opportunities past the pandemic. Many small businesses are following suit. If you are an employer with remote workers, it is essential that you understand the possible legal implications of remote work. Issues like worker classification and overtime pay may be especially complicated when workers are working remotely. 

Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors

Traditionally, most work-from-home positions were independent contractor positions. Now, more and more employees are working from home. In many businesses, employers’ needs are met by a combination of independent contractors and employees. If you choose to utilize independent contractors in your business, you must ensure that these workers meet the criteria necessary for contractor classification. Contractors must:

  • Work outside of your direct control

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Illinois employment attorneyOn March 23, 2021, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the Employee Background Fairness Act. The new law adds an amendment to the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA) regarding how an employer can address a potential employee’s criminal conviction record. Under the IHRA, a person’s arrest record can not be held against them in the hiring process or once they have been hired, however, the new law extends these protections to a person’s conviction record. The new law went into effect immediately upon the governor’s signing.

Any individual – whether going through the hiring process or already working for an employee – who feels that they are being discriminated against because of a prior conviction or convictions may file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR).

The law does have two exceptions where an employer can consider an individual’s conviction record either during the hiring process or after that individual is already employed by the company:

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Schaumburg employment defense attorneyThe COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work. Employers and employees alike have adapted to different work situations and environments, including more flexible remote options. Statistics show that independent contractors made up 6.9% of the total number of workers employed in 2017. As a business owner, you may have full-time, salaried employees or part-time, contract employees, or a combination of both. Independent or freelance workers can provide several benefits, such as special knowledge or skills, staffing flexibility, and overall cost savings. However, it is important to note the legal requirements and differences between independent contractors versus salaried employees. 

Thinking Outside the Box

Although independent contractors typically charge an hourly rate, this can be cost-effective in the long run. If they are experts in their field, this saves time on training and onboarding. In addition, they only need to be employed for a designated amount of time, or as long as a project takes to be completed. Many employers are able to verify a contractor’s reputation by speaking to other companies that used their services, or by reviewing samples of their work. 

Since freelance or independent contractors are used on a temporary basis, employers may have concerns about potential conflicts of interest or the sharing of information with competitors or future clients. It is possible to include a clause in a contract outlining the rules regarding ownership of intellectual property or confidential information such as business ideas, financial data, and trade secrets.

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Schaumburg employment lawyerStarting your own business or becoming your own boss can be a dream come true for many people. In the business world, contracts are essential because they outline the work to be performed as well as the prices that must be paid for services. In general, a contract clearly states the expectations of all the involved parties, whether it is for salaried, hourly, or freelance employees. Additionally, these legal documents can protect the parties if those expectations are not met by designating the consequences for any breach in the agreement. When one party does not hold up their end of the bargain, as they say, the other party may take legal action. An experienced business attorney can make sure that all the necessary information is included in a contract to safeguard against disagreements that may affect a business owner’s livelihood. 

Contract Basics

Verbal agreements or simply handshakes are not legally enforceable in the business world, since it can result in a “he said, she said” situation. For example, if a vendor agrees to perform a specific service but the cost is not put in writing, then a business owner may be faced with an astronomical bill or invoice to pay for services rendered. 

Similarly, employee contracts should include a policy manual that states what is and is not acceptable. For instance, the manual should clearly state any dress code, Internet and cell phone use policies, and other important regulations. It should also explain the company’s discipline policy. In most cases, failure to follow the outlined guidelines can lead to the termination of workers. If these issues are not addressed ahead of time, employees may take advantage of business owners by showing up late to work, making personal phone calls, taking long lunches, and more.  

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1051 Perimeter Drive, Suite 400
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Phone: (847) 995-1205

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