Column and Beam

A blog for design and construction professionals.

5 Things To Do Today to Reduce Your Company’s Risk

Design and construction professionals are in a high-risk business, but there are things that your firm can do today that will help minimize that risk.

1. Adopt and Use a Standard Contract Form

There are some clients that will present you with their form for services or construction work and you will have to negotiate over the terms.  However, there are plenty of clients – particularly those buying design services – that do not have a standard form.  This is a great opportunity for you to present your standard contract form to them with your proposal.  This, of course, assumes that you actually have a standard form.  If you do not, you need to create one or hire an attorney to help you create a form.  Your form does not have to be a made-from-scratch product, but may include a standardized document, like one of the AIA forms, with your standard modifications.  You need to have a go-to form that you understand and that you are comfortable using.  Today, you can develop a plan to create this form.

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Are Your Architects and Engineers Exempt?

Navigating employment laws can be challenging for design and construction firms, particularly in today’s uncertain climate.  One concept that is surprisingly complex and requires careful attention is the classification of employees as exempt or non-exempt.  Most employers assume it’s an easy distinction, especially regarding seasoned career professionals, but what about unlicensed intern architects and engineers-in-training (ETIs)?

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Should You Monitor Employee Use of Company-Issued Devices?

Ever wonder what your employees are really up to while they’re on the clock?  You’re certainly not alone.  Many companies place restrictions on employee activities.  According to a recent survey, 40% of companies have a formal social media policy and monitor social media activities on company-owned equipment.  Another survey showed that 76% of companies have rules regarding email use and content, and half reported that they regularly monitor workers’ incoming/outgoing emails.  Is it legal and ethical to monitor what employees are doing with their company-issued devices?

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What You Need to Know about Document Retention for Employment Records

Is your company a small group of five or a large team of five hundred?  Whatever the case may be, you have important and confidential employment records.  These can include a wide variety of paper and electronic documents, including time sheets, emergency contact forms, performance evaluations, and medical leave requests.  Your employment records should be kept in a secure location, but there’s no need to retain them indefinitely.  The following are federal requirements regarding document retention.

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Records to Get and Keep When Hiring

All businesses, including architecture and engineering firms and construction contractors, have to fill vacant or new positions from time to time.  There are a number of records that such firms must obtain during the hiring process.  There are other documents that some employers elect to obtain, like drug and alcohol tests, credit reports and other background reports.  There are legal requirements for how long each of these documents must be kept and how they must be destroyed.

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