Why health club owners should retain employee records

 In Operations

Recently a club owner found himself in the middle of litigation with a former employee looking to collect on unemployment insurance. The former employee made a compelling case, but the club owner did one better and had compelling documentation.

Most health club owners (and most business owners in general) dislike paperwork more than just about anything; until, of course, the time comes that keeping meticulous human resources records save thousands of dollars in legal expenses, should the employee leave on less than friendly terms.

It is important that EVERY employee have a complete file with the HR department or manager that tracks everything from a resume or application to an exit interview when the employee moves on from the company, whether it is his or her choice or not.

Along the way, there should also be standard employee reviews, commendations, disciplinary forms and more, so as to paint a clear picture of all decisions made for all employees, be it a promotion, demotion or firing. In business, it is important that the facts back up a health club owner’s gut instincts about employee moves.

But just showing an employee the paperwork is not enough to hold up in court. It is essential that every piece of paper relating to the employee or the job is signed off on. By signing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the employee agrees with the policy or the decision, but that they have read it – and be sure there are witness signatures on disciplinary and termination forms, especially if the employee refuses to sign it him or herself.

Additionally, when the company makes any changes or amendments to how it does business or the role of the employee, it is vital that it is communicated to the employee and documented in his or her human resources file.

Say, for instance, that there is a new procedure for opening the gym, a change in front desk protocol or a new way of doing fitness intakes. It is not only important that every team member knows and understands it, but that it is documented.  By taking the time to ensure that all employees impacted are aware of the change, it will help avoid the “I didn’t know that” defense when the health club owner is asking why she had to get out of bed at 4 a.m. to unlock the doors at the new opening time that she thought everyone knew about the week before.

Here’s a quick list of the basics that should be in every health club employee’s HR file:

  • Job application
  • Resume
  • Resume cover letter
  • Job offer letter or employment contract
  • Emergency contact information
  • Signed employee handbook acknowledgment form showing receipt of employee handbook
  • Checklist from new employee orientation showing topics covered and by whom
  • Copies of any performance appraisal used or employee development plans
  • Notes on attendance or tardiness
  • Performance improvement plan documentation
  • Disciplinary action reports
  • Employee recognition presented such as certificates, recognition letters, etc.
  • Employee resignation or termination letter
  • Exit interview documentation
  • Employment ending checklist

By keeping this information on file you will not only be able to keep everyone on staff on the same page, but you wll be able to protect yourself and your club from HR nightmares.