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This chapter is from the book

Post-Offer Employment Practices

Objective: Gain an Understanding of Post-Offer Employment Practices

There are several commons employment practices that the organization might want to use after a determination has been made to hire an individual. First is the employment offer itself. Next the organization must decide whether it is in its best interest to formalize the employment relationship with a formal employment contract. In addition, the organization must determine its employment practice with respect to medical examinations and, finally, whether to offer relocation benefits. Each of these practices is discussed in the sections that follow.

Employment Offers

Often the hiring process is a long and intensive process frequently characterized by considerable stress, particularly on the part of the employee. This can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings as to the parameters of the proposed employment relationship. Therefore, many organizations consider it good practice to place their employment offers, often referred to as job offers, in writing. It is recommended that employment offer letters be reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that the organization does not create a legal obligation that it did not intend. The offer should clearly delineate the terms and conditions of employment. Care should be taken to avoid vague language that might be interpreted by the employee to promise any future benefit such as job security, pay raises or bonuses, particular work schedules, and so forth. Especially important is a clear identification that the employment relationship is "at-will" (an issue discussed in further detail in Chapter 6), and can be terminated by either party at any time for any legal reason.

The employee should be required to sign one copy of the offer and return it to the employer prior to or simultaneously with reporting for work. The signed offer should be retained in the employee’s personnel file.

Employment Contracts

The legal concepts associated with contracts are discussed in additional depth in Chapter 4. Organizations might want to negotiate a formal contract with employees that goes beyond the normal employment offer or agreement and clearly identifies additional terms and conditions of employment. Employment contracts are often used to negate the employment-at-will condition of employment and to establish fixed terms and conditions of employment—including length of employment and restrictions on employee activities should they leave the organization. Employment contracts provide protection, rights, and obligations for both the organization and the employee. A more in-depth discussion of employment contracts is contained in Chapter 6.

Medical Tests

Medical tests can be administered after a conditional offer of employment. The subject of medical tests is covered in depth earlier in this chapter as part of the discussion of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

An allied issue is the emerging and somewhat complex issue of genetic testing. Genetics is a branch of biology that studies the transmission of hereditary characteristic from parents to offspring. Medical tests are now available that can identify the genetic markers for certain debilitating diseases. Employers could use these test results to discriminate against individuals that have an increased potential for developing serious illnesses that might require expensive medical treatment and, ultimately, affect the employer’s health insurance costs. On the other hand, this information could be valuable to the employee. The employee could be advised of the potential for certain diseases and take preventative measures. In addition, the employer might be able to place the employee in certain jobs that would lessen the potential for certain types of diseases. For example, the employee could be placed in a job that does not come into contact with certain types of hazardous chemicals.

As stated before, this issue is emerging as the genetic technology improves. Taking employment-related actions based on genetic information that negatively affects the employee should not be done. The SPHR can expect legislation and additional case law in this area.

Relocation

Many employers provide some assistance with the expenses of moving should the employee be relocating from a different geographical area to accept employment. Relocation benefits often involve issues of taxability and real estate law. For those reasons, many organizations elect to outsource this program. Concepts associated with managing outsourced programs were discussed in Chapter 2, and the subject of relocation benefits is discussed further in Chapter 5.

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