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Employee Relations Audits - Are They Right for You?

Summer 1995

In today's competitive market, companies routinely perform financial audits to measure fiscal health. The financial audit is a useful tool in assessing a company's current profit/loss status and for making long range financial plans. Just as a financial audit provides a snapshot of a company's fiscal health, an Employee Relations Audit can provide the same, useful information regarding a company's labor/management relations and employment policies.

Obtaining a clear picture of a company's labor relations climate is vital to improving employee morale and, ultimately, productivity. It also is especially important in today's legal climate that businesses periodically review their employment policies and procedures to ensure that they are in compliance with ever-evolving federal, state, and local laws. An Employee Relations Audit can provide a company with helpful information to achieve these goals.

The process for conducting an Employee Relations Audit really is quite simple. On an annual basis, our trained labor attorneys interview supervisory staff to determine the nature of employee complaints and/or personnel problems; the effectiveness of employee/management communications; and, where applicable, to evaluate the company's efforts in maintaining a union-free environment. (In situations where a collective bargaining agreement exists, the audit process is invaluable to management because it provides information necessary to prepare strategy for upcoming negotiations.) The interviews are confidential so that supervisors feel more comfortable providing uncensored responses. The results of the interviews are submitted in a written report to upper level representatives of management, with recommendations, where appropriate.

As part of the audit process, we also review the following from a legal and practical standpoint:

Existing personnel policies and procedures, including handbooks and application forms;
- Hiring and new employee orientation practices;
- Wage and salary policies;
- Performance review and salary adjustment procedures;
- Job descriptions/job classifications;
- Safety and health practices;
- Security measures;
- Work rules and a company's approach to discipline;
- Affirmative action obligations, if any;
- Record retention procedures;
- Training and employee advancement practices;
- Posted documents for bulletin boards; and
- Company practices to ensure compliance with laws such as COBRA; federal, state, and local discrimination laws; the Americans with Disabilities Act; the Family and Medical Leave Act; and others.

The Employee Relations Audit is an effective tool for eliciting information regarding labor and employment relations issues from both a legal and practical standpoint. This information can be the basis for recommending specific, corrective action, including further services that Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. can provide to remedy labor relations problems and prevent costly litigation. If you would like more information to determine if an Employee Relations Audit is right for you, simply call any one of the members from our Labor and Employment Law Practice Group at any one of our offices.

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