Most community associations utilize independent contractors to service their property. A general example of an independent contractor is an association’s landscaper who uses its own machinery, works on other properties, and is paid in lump sums.
However, some associations hire employees who only work for the association, are paid by the hour, and are subject to more direct instruction from the board. As society becomes more litigious, a board’s concerns rightfully grow about litigation resulting from the employer and employee relationship.
Even if an association only has a small number of employees, an employee handbook that is kept current with the ever changing employment laws is the first line of defense against employment related complaints. An effective handbook communicates and defines expectations and policies and is better than litigating these issues later.
A wide range of topics should be included in an employee handbook. Associations must ensure their policies do not unreasonably restrain employees’ rights to engage in concerted activity, even if no current labor union exists. All associations should also establish a harassment policy, harassment reporting policy, solicitation policy, equal employment policy, and an accommodation request policy. Depending on the size of an association’s workforce, it may be subject to certain leave of absence laws, laws regarding benefits, and wage and hour regulations.
Do not wait for employees to raise work related questions. A wise community association board will enact an employee handbook before issues arise.