As an HR practitioner, I am interested in exploring the intersection of HR practitioners and Employment and HR Law practitioners who see the “other side” of the issues.
This intrigues me, because it brings up an interesting perspective on how as HR practitioners we can improve in our professional practice, add more value to our organization, and position ourselves for success.
When I asked Mr. Stuart E. Rudner, a prominent Employment Law lawyer, Partner at Rudner McDonald LLP in Toronto ON, and author of author of You’re Fired! Just Cause for Dismissal in Canada and The Canadian HR Law Guide, his thoughts on the subject, he provided some excellent insights into his perspective.
An Employment Law Perspective on HR
I asked Mr. Rudner some questions about his perspective, and here are his answers as voice of authority in the field.
1 – What is the one thing that frustrates you the most about HR practitioners today?
[Rudner] I work with HR practitioners every single day. Most are quite knowledgeable, but some either do not have knowledge of basic HR laws or, even worse, assume that they know the laws and then expose their employers or clients to significant liability. HR lawyers and HR practitioners should work hand in hand, but unfortunately some HR practitioners try to take on the role of HR lawyer.
HR lawyers and HR practitioners should work hand in hand
2 – What piece of advice would you give HR practitioners to help them be better at their jobs and/or provide a better service for their employer? (In reading your publication, I acknowledge that you strongly encourage employers to have every single employee sign a contract of employment that sets out their duties and obligations along with the duties and obligations of the organization. Would this be your #1 recommendation, or would you suggest another?)
[Rudner] Yes, I continue to recommend that employers strategically use contracts and policies to reduce risk and costs and increase flexibility in managing their workforce. Employers should not be abusive, but can use the opportunities available to establish the rules of the workplace and the working relationship. We work with clients to improve their legal position.
#1 recommendation for employers is to have every single employee sign a contract of employment
3 – What would you say are the biggest issues in HR practice today?
[Rudner] Workplace harassment continues to increase in importance, as do investigations. Another significant issue is accommodation of protected grounds, such as disability and childcare obligations. We work with clients (employers and employees) day in and day out to address these, and there continue to be significant misinformation out there.
4 – Do you have any opinions about the value to employers of having managers with an HR designation (CHRP or CPHR)?
[Rudner] There are many excellent HR practitioners without a designation. However, having one does provide some assurance to an employer. If I were hiring, I would try to assess substantive knowledge and strategic thinking.