In last week’s Tip of Week (yes, I am a little behind), John Phillips of the Word on Employment Law raises the interesting perspective that it is possible to overdocument in employment cases.
Some of John’s warnings on overdocumentation include:
- Documentation on trivial matters.
- Creating a paper trail right before an employee is terminated.
- Documenting conduct or performance issues for an employee when you have not done the same for others.
- Summarizing in a document right before an employee is terminated all the things you wanted to document when the conduct occurred but didn’t.
- Preparing documentation after the employee is terminated.
Granted, John’s point is well taken. It is important to be fair and consistent in the documentation of employee performance and conduct. Employees should be treated in a consistent manner and it is best to document performance and conduct as it occurs.
However, I am not sure I necessarily agree that it is best to go forward without any documentation at all when the documentation has not been done right away. It depends on the circumstances. There are times when a summary of events written after the fact may be helpful. Much of this also depends on the way the document is written. And of course I would never advocate that anyone fabricate evidence.
Please consult your employment lawyer for advice in a particular situation.