Work-Integrated Learning (WIL), Work-Integrated Education (WIE) and Employment Readiness

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

The students at the institutions of learning are better advised to join the Work-Integrated Learning, Work-Integrated Education and Employment Readiness Programmes on arrival on campus, i.e. in their first year of studies. They should constantly participate throughout their studies. The programme is fast becoming core to all lines of studies across the globe.

The World Association of Cooperative Education (WACE) is the global organization advocating for Work-Integrated Learning and Work-Integrated Education integration in all degrees and diplomas. The aim is to make transition from the world of learning and education into the world of work seamless.

In South Africa we have the Southern African Society for Cooperative Education (SASCE) made of the academic and industry practitioners. It runs biannual continental conference called WIL Africa, to advance Cooperative Education and Work-Integrated Learning across the continent. SASCE and WACE work together on a number of initiatives, incluidng the annual WACE global conference that is hosted by different member universities.

The kind of programmes conducted under the programme must be relevant to the industries that are likely to absorb the graduates from the institutions of learning. They must be aimed at closing the gap between theory and practice during the whole period of studies.

General activities are organised and held on and off campuses by the Cooperative Education Departments of the Institutions, for example, industry visits, guest lectures by industry practitioners, visits to career fairs and exhibitions, industry specific workshops, seminars and conferences, on the job learning during the vacations, work readiness programmes like how to write curriculum vitae, how to apply for employment, how to conduct job interviews, how to research industry and companies suitable to the graduate’s dream career, etc.

For those institutions that have embraced the programme, partnership with the industry in offering P1 and P2 practical work is a natural practice. The training contributes credit points toward the qualification. The programme follows a well formulated integration of theoretical lectures and learning at the industry.

There are many reasons why the companies would partner with the institutions of learning and participate in the programmes. Among others, the opportunity for the learners to network with the industry practitioners, students given reliable sources of information in their career choices, companies source of recruitment of new talent, an acceptable standard of transitioning from the institutions of learning to the world of work, both the institutions and industry have interest in the graduates that are clear on why they chose the line of career they are following, and placement becomes successful as a result.

The above points bring us to the most important objective, namely employment readiness by the graduates. Employment Readiness Programme is extremely important, and requires special focus. How a graduate arrives at their first place of employment depends on their transition management and readiness level. This is their second toughest transition after transitioning from high school to the university/college.

There are many potential fault lines that require a mentor to assist the graduates to overcome. It is impossible without the guidance of a mentor to overcome this hurdle. It is the first time that the graduate will know if their choice of studies and career was spot on or not. They ought to have mastered the logical transition steps that include the basic tasks like identifying the industry and company to apply for the first employment, choice of the type of job, choosing the career direction, putting together convincing curriculum vitae, prepare for the job interview, shopping for appropriate corporate clothing, etc.

Arrival at the world of work is the beginning of huge personal responsibility. It is the beginning of a long journey into the corporate life. This journey, depending on the readiness level or lack thereof, can be good or bad one. It is at this point that the graduate and his sponsors (family or other funders) would want to confirm return on education investment.

The role of the mentor during the WIL and WIE period cannot be underestimated. It is absolutely necessary in this last mile of the graduate’s educational journey. The mentor should accompany the graduate during this critical phase of their holistic human capital development. The graduate must consider mentorship arrangement as a crucial investment, not an expense. The foundation on which to build corporate life must be solid.

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3 Common Employment Law Questions Answered

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Sometimes employment law can be difficult to comprehend. Here are three common work place situations and their legal ramifications.

1: DISMISSAL DUE TO ILLNESS

There are three potential areas of legal exposure:

· unfair dismissal;

· unlawful termination; and

· discrimination

From time to time an employee will have to leave your employment due to long term health issues. They may decide to resign or you may have to eventually consider dismissing them. It is beneficial to consider as many ways possible to help them back to work – dismissal should be a last resort and could be deemed unfair if not managed properly.

If continued employment is no longer achievable because there are no reasonable adjustments that can be made, it may be fair for you to dismiss them.

The Fair Work Act 2009 states that an employer must not dismiss an employee because the employee is temporarily absent from work due to illness or injury.

The Fair Work Regulation 2009 provides that it is not a “temporary absence” if the employees absence from work extends for more than 3 months, or the total absences of the employee, within a 12 month period, have been more than 3 months. The employer still requires a valid reason to dismiss the employee, even if the employee has been absent on unpaid leave for three months or over.

We suggest you ask the employee to provide medical information on his capacity for work and what support he might need to return to work.

2: EVIDENCE OF ILLNESS

You can insist on employees providing evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person that they are entitled to sick leave, for example, a medical certificate or statutory declaration. That being said there is no specific timeframe as the timeframe required is “as soon as practicable”.

For this reason you should devise a written policy that stipulates that your employees provide such information within a specific timeframe. Your policy should also specify that your employees inform their manager directly of their absence (when possible), or phone their manager within a certain timeframe to explain why they cannot make it to work and when they expect to return.

3: NOTICE OF REDUNDANCY

When dismissing an employee it is necessary to give them notice. The notice commences when the employer tells the employee that they want to end the employment. If you notify them of their redundancy just before leave, the time spent on annual leave will count towards their notice period.

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Employment Success Tips – How to Contribute Your Knowledge and Skills at Work

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Tip #1 – Collaborate When Asked

Team work is an essential component of success in any business endeavor. This is why it is essential that you learn how to collaborate with your peers and colleagues and practice it regularly.

Tip #2 – Always Be Early or On Time

When you’re late to a meeting, everyone notices, including your boss. This is why it is vital to be early or on time, so that you don’t stick out as a bad example.

Tip #3 – Think and Contribute Critically

When you’re at meetings or when a co-worker or boss asks for advice, think critically and try to make an important contribution. Don’t let the words go in one ear and other the other.

Tip #4 – Don’t Sit Quietly at Meetings

If you want to be successful in the workplace, you cannot sit passively at meetings. Instead, you must take charge and make comments. Get recognized; and make important contributions.

Tip #5 – Empathize with Co-Workers and Higher-Ups

Empathy is important. Getting it from others makes you feel wanted and cared for. And giving it to others will improve your status within the company. It will show people that they can come to you if others do not understand their position.

Tip #6 – Don’t Make Enemies

If you want to be successful in the workplace, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up locking horns with a few people on the way. However, at the end of the day, it is vital that you don’t take these disputes personally; and work hard to avoid making enemies.

Tip #7 – Generate High-Quality Work

At the end of the day, the quality of work that you produce will determine whether your boss thinks that you are barely fit to carry out your current job; or whether you are over-qualified and should be promoted.

Tip #8 – Share Your Work and Ideas with Others

If you have good ideas, then share them with others. Let your co-workers and bosses benefit from your insights. Occasionally, you might get no credit for this, but over time, the praise you receive here and there will help to improve your profile within the company.

Tip #9 – Be Honest with Follow Co-Workers and Higher-Ups

Above all else, honesty is an important quality in the workplace. Being honest with your co-workers and your boss means that they can trust you and come to you for advice in the future.

Tip #10 – Be a Self-Starter

One of the most clearly identifiable traits of successful individuals is their ability to self-start. Instead of needing to be pushed around by bosses, they take action immediately and accomplish tasks on their own. If you want to get promoted, you should also get in the habit of doing this.

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How Employment Agencies Work

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

If you have any misunderstandings about the working of employment agencies, then it is time you cleared any misgivings you might have in your mind regarding their working. The little fee that you may or may not pay is really worth every penny and even more. Here is how a typical recruitment agency goes about with its chores.

  1. Big staffing agencies employ dozens of calling agents who have expert knowledge in locating talents around the world. Their principal sources of information are social media, news paper advertisements and people who contact them by word of mouth. The second source of information is applicants who approach the agency directly. Though it was the norm several years before to send in a CV by post, things have changed vastly nowadays with the advent of computers, internet and email.
  2. The second element in the working of any employment agency is maintaining a cordial relationship with employers, for which purpose agencies appoint agents too. They liaise with the employer and begin to study their requirements. Once a detailed study has been completed, the agency takes the permission of the employer to publicise their requirement to go on a head hunting spree on their behalf.
  3. The first place that recruiters look for information is the office database. Though most of the matching is done automatically by computers, it is not uncommon to tweak the final match manually. It is normal for agencies to recommend more than one applicant to the employer. The employer after receipt of information shortlists candidates they find fit. Now the deck is cleared for the agency to arrange a meeting between the employer and a prospective employee.
  4. Sometimes the process may become more complex, especially if the skills set expected of the candidate are very special. It can take several days or even weeks if a match is not available in the agency’s database. In such situation, the agency turns to the social media. They will list out applicants in job portals and even in social media like LinkedIn for example.
  5. The climax is the culmination of a meeting between the employer and applicant. During such meetings the agency represents itself through a report detailing the applicant’s claims and the documents he or she has presented before it.
  6. The crowing of the effort is the employer issuing a letter of appointment by the employer. Employment agencies take an active role in the preparation of contracts and other peripheral activities connected with it.

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5 Steps Employment Lawyers Advise You To Take If Your Rights Have Been Violated

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

You feel your rights have been violated at work, you’ve done a thorough job researching your issue, and you think you have a good case to pursue against your employer. Now what? It can be hard to find a qualified and experienced attorney as there are few employment lawyers that work on behalf of employees compared to how many work for employers. Follow these five steps to make sure that your claim has the greatest chance of success.

1. Have A Conversation With Your Employer

First, you should file your statement of complaint with the human resources department at your company. Filing with HR first can sometimes provide a temporary or even permanent solution to the issue. You may also want to speak with your boss to see if the issue can be resolved before moving forward with a formal complaint. Make sure to stay professional and polite and avoid personal attacks. Keep a written record of all conversations and try not to gossip with your co-workers about the situation. If a conversation occurs, follow up via email with a summary of that conversation.

2. Determine If Your Employer Is Bound By Federal Law

The Family Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and a few other federal laws govern employers that engage in interstate commerce. If you’re not sure about your company, call the Wages and Hours Division of the Department of Labor, and they will tell you. They will also tell you if you need to file a state claim before proceeding with a federal claim as sometimes all state remedies must be exhausted before you can file at the federal level. Experienced employment lawyers can be particularly useful at this stage.

3. Gather Together All Required Information

When preparing to file your complaint, make sure you have gathered all of the required information. You will need your contact information as well as your employer’s, and documentation that shows your position and pay. The court will look more favorably on written documents and evidence such as wage stubs, work transcripts, hiring and/or firing forms, and any relevant receipts. If you have any witness statements, employment lawyers will advise you to get these in writing.

4. File The Formal Complaint

When it’s time to file with the appropriate government agency, you will generally start with the agency that governs your type of claim depending on if you are alleging discrimination, unfair hiring practices, workplace safety issues, etc. You will then be directed to your local office. An investigation will be conducted, and a determination made if your employer is liable. Based on that determination, a remedy may be issued such as an award for damages or an order for a change in the employer’s work policies.

5. Follow The Progress Of The Complaint

If no violation is found, or you and your employer were not able to reach a settlement, then it is up to you to decide if you want to pursue private action. Interviewing employment lawyers at this point and having them review your case is likely your best solution.

Following these five steps should help you build the most successful employment case.

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Stop Job-Blocking Yourself: 5 Golden Employment Opportunities You’re Missing

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Gone are the days of getting a well fit, well-compensated position simply by attending college after high school. Not only has entrepreneurship risen so drastically in the last 20 years, unconventional opportunities for gainful employment are also plentiful. Ditch the old paradigms and adopt some of these new ideas to get the most of your job search and find work where you’re not only valued and appreciated, but well-compensated to match.

1. Apply for positions you think you’re unqualified for.

These days quality work ethic is just as hard to find in an applicant than the desired credentials for a position. With more companies and their owners striving to work smarter, not harder, they know how costly turnover can be and they are willing to invest time and training into a promising candidate. Do not sell your character short! Lead with your relevant experience and training, and express both your coachability and commitment to an employer who will invest in you.

2. Apply for positions that aren’t open.

The best company owners and managers will tell you “we’ll always make room for a good employee to come on board”. Don’t wait for the perfect position to open, or be advertised publicly. Dress to impress and bring your resume to them whether or not an open position was advertised. It may be your stopping in that pushes them to evaluate their current staff and fire a derf to make room for you, or create a position that utilizes your talent and experience.

3. Widen your search to national companies that may entertain remote positions.

Have a dream job in mind, but it’s working for an out of state company? Don’t write it off as a pipe dream just yet. Visit their website and scroll to the bottom of the homepage, and look for an employment link. If no remote positions are advertised or listed, make your own open door by sending a resume and cover letter to the email address of a hiring manager. Be sure to inform them of your location and how you are proficient in programs that will make training and correspondence with you a breeze.

4. Consider careers without required college credentials.

There are many careers that require education higher than a high school diploma, but less than a college degree. Most are part of a certification programs or apprenticeships. Some of these professions include funeral arranging, real estate, plumbing, electric, tree service, personal caring or nursing assistance.

5. Look for better opportunities when you’re employed.

The best time to look for a perfect fitting job is while you’re still employed. When we are job searching and unemployed, we are directing a different vibe toward our potential employers. Our energy is often tainted by past disappointment and fear, insecurity or doubt, and sometimes worse, our desperateness. While still employed, we have a unique opportunity to take advantage of our current confidence and security. While your commitment to your current employer is commendable, it’s often unreturned and you should never deprive you and yours the opportunity for a brighter future. The best employers will understand. If they can’t find respect for that, that should only confirm you can find a better fitting position elsewhere.

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Work From Home – Employment Or Business?

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

Most people would prefer to be employed because of the security and stability that it can offer especially for high demand jobs. When you work for a company with the credibility and stability, you will surely have something to expect every week, two weeks or every month, depending on the pay schedule. The security is what makes employment more attractive than setting up your own business.

When you setup your own business, there is a need for you to invest, whether it is a physical business or an online venture. There is a required amount of cash that you should spend to start. There is no business that can give results without at least shelling out some money. There may be some Internet ventures that you can engage into without any investment but the amount of money that you will get will not be enough to provide for the needs of your family. Also, if you are a newbie in the Internet marketing world, it will help to have a coach or mentor to guide you through the processes and ensure good results. This mentoring program will never be free but you are guaranteed of assistance and support from an expert or experts.

If you are the kind of person who would love to take some risks, then you can engage into some business ventures. You only have to take some calculated risks to control the impact in case the business does not work. This is something that is taken from some exposure to business and management dealings.

Family orientation will have an influence in your inclination of whether you will go for employment or business. If you have been raised by parents who have run a business, most likely, you will also work on setting up your own business in the future. However, when the exposure is more of plain employment and expecting a monthly or bi-weekly pay, you will never see the benefits of running a business and may not be something that you will be open to.

This highly competitive world and with the high cost of living, the best way to live comfortably is to engage both in employment and business. Employment does not necessarily mean having a job where you are required to report for work 8 or 9 hours a day. It may be an online work-from-home job where you can get a regular source of income. At the same time, you can set up a business that answers the needs in your community or learn how to manage an online business, even by just being an affiliate. You need time to learn the processes. You also need some investment for some tools and services. With determination and commitment, you will be able to know the ropes and you can achieve your objectives. There is no such thing as get-rich-quick schemes in the Internet world. You still have to work and spend time to generate results.

If you are not business-minded, this is the time to start learning about running one. Employment and running a business can go together if you know how to manage your time and resources.

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Employment And Severance Scenarios

Jul 13 2020 Published by under Uncategorized

In prior articles I have alluded to the fact that many people think being an entertainment lawyer is a romantic existence. Yet the brass-tacks principles of employment law and the harshness of employee severance and termination scenarios often overtake that romanticism. Being an entertainment lawyer entails a lot more than hanging-out with talent backstage or on the tour bus. In prior articles I have also alluded to the fact that artists often have “day jobs” providing their paying employment to subsidize their artistic ventures. As a New York entertainment attorney who grew up in a show business family in the midst of performers, I’m used to this. Most of these artists intend to abandon these day jobs, with or without an employment severance package, once they get signed to a development deal, record contract, or otherwise “make it”. But what happens in the meantime? What if an artist works for a company that intends to jettison him or her as an employee, rather than the other way around? What if the company counts on using an employment severance package as a hedge against risk of an after-occurring wrongful-termination lawsuit?

These past few years have comprised a particularly bad time in terms of employee and contractor lay-offs and firings. As a working entertainment lawyer in New York I have seen many artists and others downscale and change jobs in recent years. Many situations which used to prompt a severance package to materialize in the prior decade, do not do so any longer. The fact of the matter is, a large proportion of employees and other workers misplay the handling of their job exit, if and when it occurs in the employment law context. In the interests of employee and worker empowerment before the blue-ink dries on the release and settlement agreement or other severance documents, this article follows. Though written by me as a media and entertainment attorney working with entertainers, the same principles apply to employment work in other industries and sectors.

I suppose that the first rule of employee empowerment is fairly pedestrian-sounding, but vitally important. An employee must read and review every employment document pertaining to his or her job and career, carefully – including the following disclaimer. The employee should secure counsel promptly, if he or she sees any legal issue looming on the horizon which may affect the employee’s career or rights – including legal issues relating to employment and severance packages. As an entertainment lawyer friend and entertainment law professor of mine used to say, “every deal is different”. What applies in one employment context may not apply to the next one. The employee must make sure that he or she seeks individualized legal advice as to any important matter pertaining to the employee’s career or rights generally. It is not uncommon that a soon-to-be-terminated worker starts calling attorneys as soon as offered an employment severance package.

There are attorneys, entertainment attorneys and otherwise, who routinely handle “employee-side” legal matters. A number of attorneys may be able to do so affordably for even a modestly-compensated employee, in the context of a severance proposal or otherwise. An employee-side lawyer should be accustomed to representing people who have limited financial resources, and this is a particularly-familiar fact-pattern for an entertainment lawyer handling artist-side work. There are parallels. And, assuming that one is not a lawyer, one should no sooner handle one’s own legal work than handle one’s own dental or medical needs oneself. The severance and employee-exit scenario most often entails some analysis of employment legal issues governing the exit. Given the economic realities faced by those in the artistic world, all entertainment lawyers need to be familiar with these employment legal issues.

The employee should remember that most employers themselves have in-house or outside attorneys. Indeed, the employment, severance, settlement, release, and exit documents are most often drafted by these attorneys. They may be entertainment attorneys, employment attorneys, litigators, or generalists. However monikered, often an employee’s securing of his or her own counsel is the only way to equilibrate the proverbial scales of justice in a severance or other job-related scenario. Exploitative and even abusive treatment of employees is unfortunately rampant in the employment law context, including at the time of worker exit – particularly in highly-competitive cities like New York and Los Angeles, and in highly-competitive industries like entertainment and media as any entertainment attorney will tell you. The good works and lessons taught by historical pro-labor figures like Samuel Gompers should not go for naught. The employee should not look to the employer, or the vicissitudes of chance, to protect the employee and the employee’s own legal rights in the workplace or in the context of a severance or other exit from employment. Rather, the employee should empower himself or herself, and should not be inhibited in seeking out the advice and opinions of those professionals who handle employee-side legal work for a living.

On to the substance and detail.

The lead singer of a rock band about to step onto a live television set is furnished a “release” for signature five minutes before scheduled air time. The entertainment lawyer representing the singer might cry, “No!”. While this could sound like an entertainment attorney observation meant only for the golden days of the Ed Sullivan Show, the rule of not signing on-the-spot is true in the employment context and across all other subject-matter areas and sectors as well. Like the artist, the employee, too, should never sign any document, employment document, severance document, or otherwise, on-the-spot. The employee should not be bullied into signing on the spot, as a product of fear, or the purposeful manipulation of same by oppressive employers or ex-employers. There are very few situations in life where one truly must sign a document on-the-spot, and an employment-related signature is usually not one of them. One of the only valid such situations that I can recall from my own experience is when an attorney must sign a stipulation on-the-spot before a judge, as the only way to preserve the attorney’s client’s rights. This will not likely be a situation that one will ever have to encounter as an employee or terminated employee in an employment severance context or otherwise. Employers typically offer severance to terminated workers out of fear of being sued by them, meaning that the worker often has more leverage in the employment context than he or she initially thinks.

It is astounding, though, as to how many people make this mistake of “on-the-spot” signing, time and time again, in the entertainment law context, and in the employment severance context and in the workplace and business-world generally – even if these signatories know better. The employee should trust his or her own instincts. If it smells bad, it is bad. If anyone, be it a car salesman, a manager or talent agent you’ve never heard of before, or, yes, an employer offering an employment severance package while terminating your employee services, waves a document at you as panaceatic – you should be suspect. The entertainment attorney’s first instinct is that a document waved at you for on-the-spot signing is not worth to you the paper it is printed on. In the employment context, if the employer presents the employee with a severance document or other document and tries to pressure the employee to sign that document on-the-spot, the instinctual reaction should be similar. The odds are better than 99% that the employer is trying to take advantage of the employee in that latter case – and trying to force the employee to thoughtlessly relinquish in haste valid and enforceable legal rights that the employee already and otherwise possesses.

By comparison, what does an entertainment attorney do, when given or forwarded a document intended for signature in the context of a rights deal, for example? The entertainment lawyer will typically indicate to the party who proffers the document for signature: “Thank you – my client and I will review and respond to this document”. Period. If the “proffering” party then says: “Hey entertainment lawyer, aren’t you or your client going to sign it now?”, the entertainment attorney answers with a flat “No”. Although it is possible that the proffering party will thereafter withdraw whatever offer the document contains and take it permanently off-the-table, they typically won’t. And if they do, it probably was not an offer worth taking anyway. This analysis also applies to written employment severance packages, releases, and settlement agreements, just as it does to talent agreements, agent and manager agreements, car purchase agreements, and just about any other form of proposed contract that one might ever be offered. Again, this rule is by no means entertainment attorney-specific, but instead is generalizable to the employment context and across all sectors and industries.

The protocols of professionalism create an expectation that all parties should be given a reasonable opportunity to review a document, including a proposed employment severance document, prior to either: (1) signing it as written (an extremely unlikely occurrence, by the way, if a good attorney reviews it for the employee); or else (2) responding to the proposed document with a fax, letter, red-line comparison draft, or mark-up indicating the receiving party’s proposed changes. This would normally be the way entertainment attorneys would interact with and between each other on a proposed license agreement, for example. The two entertainment lawyers would expect careful reading and deliberation on either end. If a proffering employer-party in the severance context, however, instead threatens to withdraw the document “since it wasn’t signed on-the-spot”, then they are just being ridiculous and overbearing. The odds are, again, better than 99% that their “non-negotiable” document would have been a legal disaster for the employee to sign as initially proposed. Again, this observation applies to employment severance packages, and most all other forms of proposed draft agreements in most all contexts other than employment, too.

Some employers in the media and entertainment industry context and otherwise even have the unmitigated gall these days to ask employees to prospectively waive their right to a jury trial in the context of so-called “non-negotiable” employment agreements including severance or other exit agreements, as but one type of egregious example of the foregoing. It is jungle out there. If one is asked to sign an employment severance agreement with jury trial waiver or other exit document on-the-spot, it is entirely fair and within one’s rights to say that “I will need to review this document with my attorney”, or “I don’t sign documents of a legal nature without attorney review”. And, if the proffering party disputes the employee’s right to legal representation, perhaps this is someone that the employee doesn’t want to accommodate anyway, on principle. This country’s entire legal history was predicated, in substantial part, on the rights of the individual, and the individual’s right to counsel. The framers of the Constitution worked hard. It would be a mistake to let them down now.

The next rule is a corollary to the prohibition on “on-the-spot” signing: The employee should never believe the employer, when the employer offers a “standard” form of employment severance agreement or otherwise. An entertainment attorney will tell you that “standard” is the biggest lie in the entertainment industry. It should be considered comparably fallacious in the employment context. If the employee wants to empower himself or herself in the workplace and in the commercial world, what the employee needs to do is repeat the following phrase repeatedly, like a mantra: “There is no such thing as a ‘standard form’. There is no such thing as a ‘standard form'”. Because, there isn’t, as any entertainment lawyer should tell you.

Rather, “standard form”, after an entertainment attorney on the receiving end translates it, just means “get over on you”. Similarly, a “standard form” employment severance document is synonymous for “oppressive and one-sided form that takes advantage of the employee”. The employee should remember that the draftsperson of a so-called “standard form” is probably a fairly predatory-minded employer-side lawyer handling the company’s employment severance protocols en masse who is under absolutely no obligation to protect – or indeed even acknowledge or accommodate – the employee’s interests. Indeed, the opposite is true. The employer-counsel’s professional obligation as a member of the Bar handling the employer-side severance work is to be a zealous advocate of only his or her own client’s interests – that is, the employer’s interests only. If the employee signs an employment severance document because the other side tells the employee it is a “standard” or “non-negotiable” form, then the employee might as well be walking off the roof of the proverbial building just because the employee was told to do it. The employee should not trust “standard forms” in the employment severance context or otherwise, or those employers who purport to furnish them. Again, this may be an entertainment attorney observation, but it applies to all workplaces and other contracting situations as well.

The employee should make sure to have retained copies of every single scrap of paper pertaining to his or her employment relationship with any company, up to and including the time of the severance communications. The employee should not trust or rely upon the employer to give the employee copies of – or even access to – those employment documents and the employee’s human resources file, if and when the employee’s work honeymoon period with the employer ends, or if and when the employee’s services are, or are about to be, terminated in a severance or other context. Remember that the Japanese model of “employment for life”, and the antiquarian U.S. model of the gold watch after 40 years of service, just simply do not apply anymore. Severance and parachutes – and these days the absence of them too – often replace the old model of dutiful loyalty.

Our United States work-force is more mobile and transient than it ever has been. The workforce I see as an entertainment attorney practicing in New York, is most decidedly such a miasma. People change jobs all the time, with or without accompanying employment severance packages and exit agreements. The motility of the workforce, by the way, greatly empowers employees to seek out their market-value salary and non-abusive working conditions – so it is not necessarily a bad thing. As a practical matter, in New York or elsewhere, entertainment industry or otherwise, the employee should work with the assumption that the employee will one day have to depart every job ever taken with or without severance, no matter how rosy the employment picture of any job looks initially. If the employee stays at that job until retirement, more power to the employee. But the employee should realize that the statistics indicate this would be an extremely unlikely occurrence in this day and age given current job-market employment conditions.

The employee should make sure that, prior to any severance scenario, his or her exhaustive, fully-complete “job file” is kept at the employee’s home – not in an office desk drawer, not in the company’s file cabinet – not anywhere near the employment workplace. It is astonishing as to how many employees fail to do this simple thing. The employee should remember that the old-fashioned paradigm of “two weeks advance notice and severance” is rapidly becoming a vestige of the past, particularly in the media employment context as I see it from my vantage-point as an entertainment attorney. Many media, software, and other types of employers will now think nothing of having an employee escorted out of the workplace by a human resources rep, or even by security personnel, the day and even moment the employee is terminated. Usually when this happens, the employee is not smiling and holding a severance check when led out of the building towards the parking lot or subway.

Why is this happening? Because employers are becoming increasingly afraid of disgruntled employee (or ex-employee) theft of company material, misappropriation of software, and even sabotage and violence in rarer cases. The employment misappropriation threat is felt particularly by media and entertainment companies, and unfortunately workplace violence incidents are on the rise everywhere. Some employers see the promise of severance – carrot-on-a-stick illusory, or not, as finally offered – to be a hedge against these risks as well. The moral of the story – the employee should keep perfect and thorough contemporaneous documentation of his or her employment file, at home, well prior to any severance scenario.

The employee should save copies of everything – offer letters, acceptance letters, employment contracts, “non-compete” documents, non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements, employee handbooks, time cards or time sheets, performance reviews, expense and reimbursement forms and receipts, insurance and COBRA documents, inter-office memos relating to work and performance, and anything else relating to the employment relationship with the company. The only exception would be, the employee should not remove any material from the workplace which is the employer’s or someone else’s property, or which the employee is contractually or otherwise obligated not to remove from the place of work. As an entertainment attorney handling production matters, I expect this issue to arise often, since an employee will usually depart while at least some non-fungible projects are still in development or production at the employer’s premises. This question of property ownership, intellectual property and otherwise, is sometimes a more difficult judgment to make than it sounds. If ever in doubt – you guessed it – the employee should seek an attorney’s advice prior to any such removal and prior to the closure of the employment severance or other exit documents.

Prior to the severance scenario materializing, the employee should be making thoughtful dated written notes to the employee’s own files and keep them at home, anytime any legally-relevant event happens during employ – such as a supervisor expressing either approval or disapproval with one’s work, or a fellow employee making suggestive or harassing comments in one’s presence. These written notes should be reduced to writing privately, immediately after the event occurs, as opposed to a day or more later. These written notes should quote what was said verbatim (yes, using actual quotation marks, and accurately). The employee should not let these notes merely rely on paraphrases, if possible.

These written notes should be taken home to the extent allowed and feasible, by the employee, on the date of the event so recorded, and should be stored securely in the employee’s employment file at home until ever needed. One would be surprised to learn just how many otherwise-valid employee-side severance-related and other legal causes must be wholly abandoned, simply for the employee’s idle failure to make a written verbatim record of important workplace conversations. This overall issue arises in the context of employment attorney and entertainment attorney work, though familiar to most all other legal practitioners as well. For legal purposes, the employee must assume that a re-constructive written record made in retrospect the following week instead, or a non-verbatim note, is near-worthless relative to one taken at the moment. What the employee wants is what is known as a “contemporaneous written record” – that means, “at the same time as the occurrence of the event itself”. And yes, for most forensic purposes in the employment context, that also could include a careful verbatim written record made by the employee five minutes after the event ends. The employment severance dialogues themselves, if and when verbal alone, should be reduced to writing by the employee in this fashion, too.

Finally, the last rule is a corollary to some of the others mentioned immediately above: The employee should bring or forward a complete photocopy (not originals) of the employment file which the employee kept at home, to the attorney or attorneys – entertainment attorney or otherwise – that the employee is considering to represent the employee in the negotiation of any employment exit and severance agreement, or any litigation or proceeding for wrongful termination of the employment or otherwise.

The employee should remember that what he or she discloses to an entertainment lawyer or any other attorney is strictly confidential, even if the employee never ends up retaining that lawyer to handle the employment severance or exit agreement or any other work. This rule of confidentiality is a serious and inviolate rule. That lawyer could lose his or her license to practice law, if he or she ever betrays the employee’s confidences. Accordingly, after first making sure that the lawyer doesn’t also represent the employer on the employment severance matter (or even otherwise), the employee should be totally candid and thorough in terms of the facts brought to that lawyer’s attention. The employee should not “screen out” facts that the employee thinks are irrelevant or that the entertainment or employment attorney “would never be interested in”. After all, if the employee is not an attorney himself or herself, he or she could be well wrong about this type of conclusion. It is the attorney’s job, not the employee’s, to filter out the irrelevant from the relevant. The employee should give the lawyer all the raw data. The matter may be the first employment severance deal which the employee has ever lived through, but probably not the lawyer’s.

The employee should cover any packet furnished to his or her actual or intended lawyer with a transmittal letter bearing the legend “Strictly Confidential”, or words to similar effect. That cover letter should include a typewritten or word-processed narrative in the employee’s own words, of all the facts and chronology of the severance or other employment matter about which the attorney is being contacted. The employee should not rely upon an oral soliloquy to make his or her point. Rather, the employee should write it all down, in legible font or typeface, before contacting the lawyer. Again, the employee should ensure, prior to divulging these facts to any such attorney, that the attorney does not already represent the employer or any other party closely affiliated with the employer on the employment severance matter (or even otherwise). It is a small world, and the entertainment and employment law bar in the employee’s locale may be even smaller.

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