One stop shop
Drafting a suite of employment contracts and related documents for a growing mortgage finance broker, including job descriptions and a policy manual.
This case began with a call from a business which has been in operation for two decades. In 2015 the business had grown at a considerable pace. It needed more people. We knew a great deal about this client having completed many projects for it.
The first stage for engaging people in a business should involve assessment of the present and future business needs and structure of the client.
A graphic or visualisation of the strategy and structure of a business helps simplify and test thinking. We prepared one, a generic version of which accompanies this case study.
During our first meeting on this matter we showed our client our visual, a PowerPoint graphic. Our client thought it to be marvellous. Over many years we'd gained an intimate understand of our client's business. The business in 2016 was to grow substantially, the graphic charted the path ahead.
As the accompanying generic business strategy and structuring graphic illustrates, we covered internal and external business circumstances including:
our client's registered trade mark, brand, and domain name;
database of customers and suppliers;
database of template documents;
the workflow process in the business;
engagement of new employees;
planned engagement of affiliates; and
marketing to generate new work for all.
Accepted of our quote began our stage by stage work till completion within a month.
What can be learned from this case study?
Firstly, testing, discussing and agreeing on the theory of what was needed for engaging people made advisory and drafting work more efficient, thus reducing costs.
Secondly, how you engage people needs crafting. In this case we used three separate people engagement arrangements - employee arrangements, independent contractor personal services arrangements, and contracted services agreements (which suited independent businesses involving several people).
Thirdly, we avoided the common, simplistic and dangerous "fix" of using just one document, eg an employment contract. Taking our advice and not wishing to cut corners, for its employees our client commissioned our preparation of the following package of integrated documents:
senior executive employment agreement;
secretarial staff employment agreement;
international interns training and employment agreement;
job descriptions for all;
office manual; and
employment contract, documents and records advice letter.
The agreements all have a schedule format, so key variables are neatly set out in the first few pages. They are not buried under pages of dense legal text.
For the agreements and the job descriptions we created both a person-specific document as well as a customised base template for client use with no need to refer back to us.
So what's wrong with using just one document for engaging people? From employment law cases it is clear that disputes arise commonly when there is no or insufficient employment documentation. In fact when employer-employee disputes arise courts can and do consider not just the signed document between the parties but also employer policy and procedures, job descriptions (whether in writing or unwritten), incentive arrangements and anything else that forms the overall employment relationship.
In this case study, for our long established and now fast growing client business, it made sense to recommend a suite of integrated documents. The position may be different for a start-up or other enterprises.
Management studies and employment law confirm that a suite of documents reduces employment law risks and gives a business and its people long term direction and motivation.
In combination, the above three benefits made our firm a one stop shop for legal advice and consultancy for engaging people and achieved our firm's motto of providing innovative, integrated services.