Documenting Your Employment Relationship
If there is ever a breakdown in the employment relationship, employees are often left scrambling to find documents that support their case, whether it be at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, or an Ontario court. When they approach our firm, they often have questions with what evidence they can and should provide. The purpose of documenting your employment relationship is to help your lawyer understand the facts of your case as well as which further evidence may be relevant to the matter at hand.
What Should I be Gathering When Documenting an Employment Relationship?
In the digital era, employees have more ability than ever to retain and document the terms and conditions of their employment. It can be as simple as saving relevant documents to a folder and updating it from time to time. To help with any potential legal matter, employees should save (digital) copies of the following:
- Your employment contract and any subsequent contracts from your employer;
- Benefits packages or employer-based insurance policies;
- Employee handbooks, codes of conduct, or policies;
- Your paystubs;
- Medical notes and associated correspondence with your employer;
- Warning letters;
- Any Performance Improvement Plans that are implemented;
- Termination letter;
Maintaining a journal of notable events in the workplace environment can be helpful in clarifying your facts with your lawyer. It can also help you remember important details you would otherwise forget as time passes. Journal entries themselves should not be used as evidence, but they can serve as maps to find evidence in the event of a legal dispute.
When diarizing notable events in the workplace, employees should include the date of events, the approximate time, who was present, what was said or done, what documents were exchanged, and what were the next steps.
Throughout the employment relationship, employees may be privy to confidential information that becomes relevant to a claim that they may pursue at a later time. This information is often subject to contractual provisions that forbid employees from disclosing company secrets to third parties. Employees may be tempted to copy or “bcc” their personal email accounts on company emails. Such actions run a severe risk of violating any confidentiality obligations to their employers. For example: what would happen to the company if you open your personal email in a coffee shop and it contains company secrets?
The best practice regarding confidential information that may be relevant to your employment dispute is to leave it at work. You can diarize what took place regarding the confidential information, but copying confidential company information to your personal access could attract a lawsuit from a concerned employer.
While technically employees can record a conversation in certain circumstances (the employee is part of and is intended to be part of the conversation, and the employee is not management), employees should still be careful, as recording someone improperly may attract negative unintended consequences.
Employees should be cautious when contemplating recording of their employer without their knowledge or consent, particularly when they are not a part of a private conversation. Doing so could open an individual up to liability.
Employees should also consider the consequences of recording, if secretly recording your conversations is against your employer’s workplace policies, you may find yourself dismissed or otherwise disciplined. Secretly recording others could also create an environment of distrust.
Unless there is grave misconduct that will ultimately be the subject of a legal claim, recording are likely unnecessary. To avoid any unintended negative consequences, employees can simply take notes of what has occurred.
Whether you are an employer or an employee looking for assistance with your disputes or employment relationships, our team of experienced employment lawyers at Achkar Law can answer your questions. Contact us by phone at (800) 771-7882, or email at [email protected], and we would be happy to assist.
Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to serve as, or should be construed as legal advice, and is only to provide general information. It is in no way particular to your case and should not be relied on in any way. No portion or use of this blog will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call (800)771-7882, or email [email protected].