The Importance of Enterprise Employees to a Health Care Business
For most companies, a prerequisite to success is the ability to attract, retain and motivate quality employees. This is especially true of health care companies. Often, there are a handful of key employees that facilitate the operation of the company. These employees may be physicians, administrators, or other management.
Retaining key employees is important as turnover can significantly inhibit a company's continued operation. Beyond hiring key employees, managers must also understand the risks and increased attention associated with such employees.
The Employment Contract
Focusing on retaining key employees should begin before employment. Employment contracts, and the negotiation surrounding initiating employment, can create a strong working relationship between an employer and key enterprise employees.
Often, prospective key employees have significant bargaining power. Providing comprehensive benefits will likely aid in retaining key employees. Typically, benefits for key employees are broader than those of other employees. With respect to health insurance coverage, many companies offer significantly broader coverage to key employees, including additional coverage aspects like retiree coverage and health risk assessments and biometric screenings. Additionally, retirement benefits are typically important in negotiating employment for key employees.
Beyond benefits, employers and employees alike need to determine the aspects of termination of employment if it does not occur via retirement. Clauses to address such issues can include non-disclosure agreements, non-compete clauses, probationary periods, and “for cause” and “without cause” separation terms.
Again, many retention issues are addressed prior to the beginning of employment. During employment, managers need to focus on continuing to address any key employees’ needs or concerns.
Protecting Employees’ Rights
In the past employment law was clearer with respect to “at-will” employment. Uncertainty and new risks have entered the landscape. A company takes an inherent risk any time it terminates an employee. Thus, the operative word is “caution” when terminating an employee in the event that employment was not as beneficial as initially expected.
Maintaining accurate procedures in an employment handbook that closely match any terms of the employment contract will protect both the employer and the employee. Employers should actively update their employee handbooks. Furthermore, employers and employees alike should maintain detailed documentation, such as a timeline, pertaining to the events leading up to and including termination.
Protecting the Company from Employees’ Acts
Our attorneys at Howell, Buchan & Strong typically advise our clients on how to protect their companies from employee actions with a combination of some or all of the following topics:
- Always clearly define the scope of employment
- Always document disputes in memos, and save emails to your files
- Act fast in determining the steps to repudiate unwanted acts
- Be careful to whom you assign certain titles (e.g., president, vice-president)
- Customize your business or malpractice insurance
- Complete comprehensive background checks on all employees
- Inform all employees on delineation of authority and scope of activities
Seek Experienced Lawyers to Assist you and your Health Care Business
We always recommend seeking the counsel of an experienced attorney when planning the operations of a healthcare business. We know that solidifying employment contracts and management’s understanding and control surrounding employment disputes is very important to our clients. It is crucial to hire and retain key employees that aid in the functioning of your business. However, we know that employment does not always function as expected.
Our team of legal experts understands the complex considerations when it comes to owning and operating healthcare businesses. We often advise clients on aspects of employment including employment contracts, employee benefits, employer protection methods, and termination. Our team frequently assists Assisted Living Facilities, so we understand the legal implications of our clients’ obstacles and goals. We are here to help!