Effective Employee Training

Employee trainings, particularly manager trainings, are critical for businesses of all types. Employers may not realize that their company is often strictly liable for their manager’s conduct, meaning that liability attaches even if the employer has a compliant policy and takes corrective steps when employees complain about their managers. In addition, many companies are finding themselves in hot water because managers are not transmitting information to Human Resources they receive from their reports regarding things like medical leaves, whistleblowing, or complaints regarding co-worker harassment.

Trainings can help insulate companies from liability by making it less likely that employees engage in illegal or improper conduct. Trainings can also teach managers what information they need to report to Human Resources. In addition, trainings help in litigation if the company is sued, as they show a jury, judge, state agency and even members of the public that the Company was serious about following their policies and the law. Finally, managers in particular may adhere to policies more when they are educated that they can often be directly sued for employment law violations.

The attorneys in Partridge Snow & Hahn’s employment law department are highly skilled and experienced at conducting effective and engaging employee trainings tailored to their clients’ needs.

Our team has compiled a list of common questions and answers regarding PSH’s trainings below. For additional information, please contact a member of our team.

Why should I use PSH for a training?

Many companies try to cut corners by using a cookie-cutter training program conducted internally or through an HR firm. Such trainings are usually not customized; thus, the examples given may be highly irrelevant to the industry or culture of the company. Moreover, the trainings often fail to distinguish between the law and best practices – which may leave employees thinking they can sue the company themselves.

Our trainings make clear the difference between the legal standard – which often may be very high – and what the employees must do under the company policy. Further, our trainings include real-life, sometimes controversial, examples of what we see in our practice; HR professionals might want to (and sometimes should) avoid such examples in the interest of not wanting to offend anyone and to set an example of what is generally appropriate to discuss in the workplace. Finally, because we are attorneys, we can meet with Human Resources executives at the company in an attorney-client privileged fashion to determine what topics need to be emphasized based upon past and current employee problems.

What types of trainings does PSH offer?

While harassment and discrimination are historically our most popular trainings, PSH offers a variety of trainings (see our most popular training topic list and sample agendas). Each training offered by PSH is conducted by one or two of our employment law attorneys and is customized to fit the employer’s industry, culture and size, as well as any specific concerns and problems it is facing.

Is the training attorney-client privileged?

No. In fact, the company may want to use the training as evidence of how they followed their policies and used best efforts to follow the law should litigation arise. Because of this, we will emphasize that when asking questions, individuals should not use names or such specific information such that people involved can be identified.

How long should a training be?

While sometimes a longer training is recommended, most commonly our trainings last between one and two hours.

How will I be charged?

Our charges are the same as they are for other legal work; in other words, we do not charge by person/attendee but rather the time it takes to create the training, prepare for the training, travel to the training (if in-person at the client site) and conduct the training.

What goes into planning a training?

To conduct a training, we will need to have a detailed discussion with our client as to the individual needs/examples for the training several weeks before the training. In addition to discussing the content of the training, we will want to know who will be attending (job type, management status, general job level, number of people attending, normal work locations of attendees and coordinate who will introduce us). If we do not regularly work with a client, we will also need information about the company policies, goals, culture, unionization and Human Resources history.

After this conversation, a date/time (or multiple dates and times) will be chosen. Please be sure to start the process well before your target training date, if possible. We will then prepare an agenda and any materials needed for the training (such as a PowerPoint or handout) and provide an opportunity for the client to review the agenda/materials and make tweaks based upon their preferences. If the training is conducted through a video conferencing system other than Zoom or Microsoft Teams, we will want to have a brief call a day or two before the training takes place to make audio or video problems less likely. The training will then take place in-person or virtually. Clients are allowed to take a video or audio recording of the training to use for future employees or unavailable employees (videos and recordings cannot be used for sale by the client or public  posting).

Where are trainings conducted?

Historically trainings were often conducted by us traveling to our client’s normal worksite(s) or a conference where all the required attendees will be present. However, during the current COVID-19 climate, most trainings are conducted virtually through video or audiocast. We are happy to learn your normal video conferencing system to make the training easy on your participants. Small, roundtable trainings can be held at our Providence, Boston, or New Bedford locations for a handful of participants.

We were ordered by the EEOC or state agency to do a training – does a PSH training count?

Generally, yes. Please let us know if this is reason for the training so that we can satisfy all content obligations and seek pre-approval from the agency.

Are trainings legally mandated (outside a specific order)?

For certain companies, state, or local law mandates trainings. Unfortunately, some of the training laws require the trainings cover topics or definitions that are not particularly useful. If your training takes place in multiple jurisdictions, we will formulate a plan as to whether to include state-required topics at the company-wide training or to separately include (or have an extra portion) for the state-mandated pieces.

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