A lot of people avoid paying an attorney for employment law forms in favor of getting free forms online. The advantage of this is obvious – it’s cheaper. But this tactic is penny wise and pound foolish – you save money in the short term, but it might cost you a lot more in the long term.
There are two reasons that employers use certain forms: (1) because the employment law forms are legally mandated (like certain wage forms in New York) or (2) to protect the company in case something goes wrong down the road. While it is definitely cheaper to pull your documents off a website, if you want to accomplish (1) or (2), you are probably doing yourself a disservice.
Using Free Online Employment Law Forms Because They Are Legally Mandated
Using free online forms to fulfill your legal obligations as an employer is dangerous. First, unless these forms come from a highly reputable website (like an official government website), you have no way of knowing if the document complies with the law or not. Employment laws are constantly changing. The employment law form you get online may no longer be legally compliant – or perhaps it was never compliant to begin with.
Second, most employment law forms are state-specific. What satisfies the law in one state may not in another.
Third, without an experienced employment lawyer on your side, how are you going to know that you’ve accumulated all the documentation that you need?
Finally, even if you get a legally compliant document, you may need guidance in precisely how to fill out the form to best suit your business’s needs.
Using Free Online Forms to Avoid Future Litigation
If you are using employment law forms in order to avoid litigation, it would be very foolish to use free forms that you find on the internet. If you use an outdated or unenforceable employment law forms, not only is your document unreliable and unenforceable, it may actually create liability for your business. Examples abound – a poorly drafted offer letter can be read as a contract, an overbroad non-compete might invalidate an entire agreement, an otherwise discretionary bonus might become mandatory. Worst of all, you might use a document you found online which violates your state’s wage and hour laws.
The whole point of using employment law forms to avoid litigation is to be prepared in the event things go wrong. And when things go wrong is precisely when you need to have an attorney available. Here, even a legally compliant free online form leaves you out on a limb.
Hiring an Attorney to Prepare Your Employment Law Forms
More often than not, you are better off hiring a law firm. Yes, it costs money – but, as with all things, you get what you pay for. Besides, it is probably less than you think – we offer flat fees and transparent pricing.
If you hire an attorney, you know that your employment law forms are legally compliant. You also know that the documents you use will be customized to suit the unique needs of your business. Employment law is not a one-size-fits-all business. Every business is different, and the documents that each business uses, like employee handbooks, can and should be customized. Also, when you hire an attorney, you can make smarter decisions about what your business actually needs. For example, most business owners think that they want non-compete agreements, when what they really need are non-solicit agreements (and many don’t even know the difference between the two). Third, if something ever does go wrong down the road (and something always goes wrong), you know who to call. Follow-up is a critical part of our practice. If you have a problem, you can speak to one of our attorneys, probably the attorney who drew up your documents personally. Every client who hires us to prepare their employment law forms gets a bank of hours to use for follow-up.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation.