Benjamin Franklin’s axiom that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially helpful for business owners who may face litigation as a result of COVID-19 or other reasons.
Although it’s not always possible to avoid lawsuits altogether, front-end steps may help a business owner should he or she have to defend their company or prosecute claims. These practices require a small investment, but the additional work will most likely pay off in the end.
Standard business forms need review
Up until recently, standard business and contract forms worked well for most industries. That’s because most standard forms are inexpensive, familiar, and reliable after years of use.
However, the pandemic has forced many business owners to take a pause and re-evaluate familiar forms. Force majeure (a common contract provision that releases parties from obligations due to extraordinary events) is an example of a standard contract clause that has caused significant issues for some business owners in the pandemic.
If possible, business owners should work with an attorney when updating business contracts and forms to identify potential issues, such as the force majeure clause.
Business owners need to maintain a system to organize and retain information. While few people enjoy saving stacks of paper, emails, text messages, photographs, pdfs, and other documents, it is important to develop a method for properly storing all of the different methods of communication and documentation, especially with many employees working offsite.
Staff and outside contractors
Due to changing governmental regulations, closures, market conditions, and other factors it’s important your internal team, as well as any outside contractors, are capable of handling their assignments. For your internal staff, this may mean offering additional training. If your business employs outside contractors, consider meeting with leaders from those organizations to determine how they’re handling new directives. If changes need to be made, it’s better to do so on the front end than to put your business at risk.
Update your handbook
An updated handbook is an indispensable tool that protects business owners from litigation. It is important for employers to update their employee handbook books every year, but certain circumstances, including the pandemic, are cause for employers to reevaluate this important business tool. Changes in the law, changes in the organization, changes in technology, and missing information reasons to update your handbook.
Help is available
The attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are available to answer your questions regarding business law. For more information, please call 586-726-1000 or visit our website.