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From the desk of the HR manager: Spring cleaning – Performing an HR audit

As spring is upon us, it is an appropriate time of the year for an organization to perform an audit of its human resources process. HR audits ensure regulatory and organizational policy compliance, while proactively pursuing internal efficiencies and excellence. Regular and systematic audits demonstrate due-diligence to regulatory bodies (e.g. Ministry of Labour) and promote a proactive, preventative approach to HR issues, subsequently reducing risk and liabilities.

An efficient human resources process generates effective practices, cost reduction, increased productivity, employee engagement and continual improvement. Areas of focus for a human resources audit include:

Personnel files

Ensure that the following items are included in an employee’s personnel file, where applicable:

  • Application for employment
  • Background check consent forms and subsequent results
  • Signed offers of employment, promotions, lateral position changes
  • Written agreements (e.g. excess hours of work, overtime)
  • Acknowledgement sign-offs on organizational policies (e.g. code of ethics, confidentiality and patent agreements, etc.)
  • Employee profile and emergency contacts
  • Vacation time records
  • Federal and Provincial TD1 forms
  • Direct deposit authorization forms
  • Dependent information for benefits purposes
  • Beneficiary designations (where applicable)
  • Documentation pertaining to leaves of absence (e.g. parental, family medical, personal emergency)
  • Performance appraisals
  • Documented disciplinary records
  • Termination and exit documentation
  • Internal organizational policies

If regulations, guidelines or internal practices have changed, it is important to ensure that all internal policies are current, up-to-date and reflective of present realities. It is also important to ensure that employees are aware of and have been trained on new or updated policies and that copies are available.

Termination and exit process

Administering an exit checklist for any individual leaving the employment of the organization serves many purposes, including ensuring the continued confidentiality of organizational information. The checklist should include termination of systems access, return of organizational property and a reminder to employees of their responsibilities after leaving the organization.

Completing an exit interview will provide the organization with information on what it is doing well and necessary areas for improvement. These improvement opportunities should be adapted into specific action items to mitigate particular areas of concern and ensure retention of top talent.

Performance management

An effective performance management process involves setting clear and transparent expectations for employees. Review the organization’s job descriptions in order to ensure that they are relevant and up-to-date; this will provide for appropriate goal setting aligned with the organization’s core competencies.

Benefits

In order to contain costs, it is important to do a regular audit of dependents and beneficiaries, as they relate to health and welfare benefits. Ensure the dependents listed are eligible for health and welfare benefits, and that required proof-of-dependency documentation is contained in the employee’s file (e.g. birth certificate(s), marriage certificate, confirmation of school attendance, beneficiary designation, etc.).

Training & development

Are your organization’s regulatory and internal training requirements current and up-to-date? Prepare a training matrix identifying training requirements for positions in all areas of the business. Identify when training is completed and when training is set to expire in order to ensure necessary regulatory requirements are continually met (e.g. violence & harassment in the workplace – Bill 168, OHSA, WHMIS, AODA etc.). As a reminder, the Ministry of Labour’s new training requirements (www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/training/) must be met by July 1st, 2014.

Health & safety

Review Joint Health & Safety Committee meeting minutes. Are regular meetings being held and inspections being conducted, in accordance with the Occupational Health & Safety Act? Regular meetings and inspections will seek to ensure that potential risks are identified and workplace accidents are reduced or eliminated.

Best practice tip…

Document, document, document! Ensuring that the organization has documented all necessary aspects of the employment relationship, from hire-to-retire, will demonstrate adherence to legislative requirements, consistency, and may be admissible as corroborating evidence during litigation, if necessary.

By Melissa Kennedy

Melissa Kennedy is a labour relations, employment and human resources specialist who assists clients with proactively managing compliance, risk and ensuring best practices are in place.

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Employer Advisor, McCarthy Tétrault LLP

Employment and labour lawyers at McCarthy Tétrault LLP
McCarthy Tétrault through their Employer Advisor blogs offers their perspectives on the latest legal developments applicable to the workplace. It provides their insights on legislative and regulatory developments, as well as new case law, while providing practical tips for employers and their human resources professionals when managing the workforce. McCarthy Tétrault is a Canadian law firm that delivers integrated business law, litigation services, tax law, real property law, labour and employment law nationally and globally. Several of their blog posts will be republished with permission on First Reference Talks. Read more
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