Follow Us

Soap Warehouse Blog

The Written Warning, what and how to make one.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Besides firing someone the one thing managers and bosses hate is having to write up an employee for breaking a handbook rule or company policy.

Here are things that you can have as a part of your written warning form.

First of course would be the full name of the employee receiving the warning. Some even list the social security number or employee ID number if they have one.
The date, maybe time this happened or shift number if needed and their job position.
Next what type of warning this notice is, first, second, or final.
Then what offense was committed by the employee. Can be a check box list or written in.

You then have a large space for what happened describing the offense or the companies side of the issue. The action plan as to what is going to be done to rectify the offense by both the company and the employee and to list what will happen with any future infraction of the same offense.

The form can leave space for the employee to rebut and make his or her own comments but not all states require that the employee be allowed to make any statement. Then comes the receipt acknowledgement where both the employee and the person says that they understand the warning from the company and sign the form. A copy is given to the employee and the original is placed into that employees personnel file. This point too depends on your state, some do not even require that the employee gets a copy once they have signed the form.

Here are a few samples of the simplest to the more detailed type.


You can find these and others free online here:


As I mentioned last week in my series of hiring posts a Written Warning form sould be a part of your program. Coming soon, the exit interview.


Tags: Business, Hiring, Warning Notice

To hire should you do background, credit check and drug test?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Most small business employers do not see the need to spend money on a background, credit check or drug screening if they have already done the other three steps we have already been over. But this could be a costly mistake not to. Small claims lawsuits where on the rise the last 10 years and they do not look like they will decrease any time soon. There are commercials on every hour of the day on television and the radio telling people it is all right to sue, almost like a God given right to do so and you have to protect yourself, your family and your business.


I will mention the main reasons here but please read this very good article I found by Less Rosen from the from a 2010 on line addition of their magazine: This article says it all.

1. There is no single place private companies can go to confirm or verify criminal records of prospective hires. Background checks once only a seldom seen practice are now even routinely done when renting an apartment or to be able do volunteer work at schools. Bonding companies are a great place to start.

2. Screening is legal but only if done for every applicant at your business as we discussed earlier about hiring procedures, or at least for everyone doing a certain job. Make sure it is also listed in your handbook with the guidelines spelled out. It should also include the guidelines for any follow up or random testing such as for drugs later as well. Such as a mandatory test for anyone driving a company vehicle and a retest for any driver that was involved in a traffic accident.

3. Screening is well worth the cost. It can save you anything from time lost from a constantly hung over worker, cost of damage claims of customer property, from insurance claims of stolen equipment, to the extreme of lawsuits from customers for criminal actions the employee did while at their location. It can even lower your insurance premiums. This is also why paying for your employees to be bonded, which will include a background check, can be a good thing and a great marketing tool.

4. Screening should not deter qualified prospects or slow down hiring. (Unless you hire by driving to a street corner and pick up day labor) Good workers understand the need for screening and most appreciate knowing they will be working for an upstanding company if hired, as well as most likely working in a safe co-worker environment.

5. Screening is not hard to have done. There are many local, regional and national companies that do this work, like bonding companies, that pay to have access to the records you need and the employees to find the records that you do not have the time or money to find yourself. There is even a professional organization for this work, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners. You can find them here: and use their member directory to find one near you.

6. If you feel the need for the extra step of drug screening above a background check, it too must be administered equally to be a legal hiring practice. You can find qualified medical companies to do this just by putting in your city, state and the words drug screening in a search engine. Most companies work with established chains of labs like Quest and LabCorp to do the work or the healthcare company your business uses may also offer these services at discounted rates for their clients, just call them and ask. Some even have lower healthcare premium rates for companies that require testing for all employees because they know this should lower the number of claims for your business.

I hope that this weeks series of entries on hiring proceedures have been helpful to you and even if you may not or will not include all these steps into your routine hiring practices, that you have found some parts you feel are worth exploring or using in the future. Feel free to comment to any entry in our blog, mention steps you have found or currently use yourself that could help others and always feel free to e-mail us directly with questions or comments. Have a good weekend.

Tags: Business, Hiring, background check

What should go into your employee handbook?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Well practically everything including the kitchen sink!


You need to include everything and anything you want your employees to know, understand, rules to follow, flow charts, lists, down to what will happen if the rules are not followed.

This goes well beyond just the hiring information or application we have discussed so far, as you will see. Some companies put their application as the first pages of their handbook, which is removable, giving the new applicant the opportunity to see and read the handbook before they even fill out or turn in their application. This allows the applicant to see if they could or would like to be a part of the company and follow the rules that are in place. I myself have gone through applications and interviews, to be offered a job that once I saw and read their handbook, I said turned down the job. Or ones that I was allowed to see their handbook with the application and did not even bother filling it out. This saves both you and the applicant valuable time and possibly money. Of course it is to say you should NEVER just pass out your application or handbook to just anyone that comes by looking for a job. I would never suggest at any time that you allow your handbook or even an application out of your office if the applicant has not already been hired. If you have a large business or one that hires crews seasonally you might also want to have a hiring seminar that you have advertised and booked applicants to attend that allows for you to discuss all aspects of the work you are offering even before a single application is filled out, all at one time just like I use to do once or twice a month for DirecTV technicians.

A handbook must cover every employee equally in your business, being specific to cover each job position but must also include all general information to cover everyone from the boss on down. Here are things you should think about including:

The exact list or order of the companies hiring practices including the location of the testing facilities if used.
The rules in regards to the application and that all information becomes part of their permanent record and must be truthful.
A list of the job descriptions of all employee positions, with their specific one highlighted or indicated so they know the exact tasks their job will entail.
Include here the start and end time for work for the different positions, days of the week, reasons where overtime may me needed and how it will be paid.
A list of all the reasons someone may be terminated from their position.
That job performance infractions will be given, verbal then written warnings before termination except for things like theft, drug use, sexual harassment, battery of any kind, (list what ever you feel is necessary) which are grounds for immediate dismissal.
You can state what ever you rules you want to make for their payment of last wages, deductions if any and why, if theft or damage was involved etc.
In other words you can list in your hand book any rule you wish, so long as it is not illegal, and it applies to all if it is a general rule or for everyone that holds that same position if the rule is task specific. For instance you can not list as a reason for termination of not wearing safety gear for the bookkeeper, or failure to deposit funds into the bank for the window washer. But you could list removing company property, not authorized, from the premises for anyone.

You can include rules such as; when and if outside food can be brought to work, where and how it is to be labeled and stored. If some things like water in coolers on trucks will be supplied by the company but the cups to drink from will not. When and where breaks from work are allowed and for what reasons. How many days notice must be given for doctors appointments and if they will count against sick time or will be unpaid time off, etc. In fact any situation you can think of should be addressed in your handbook and if not steps that should be followed if no rule is listed, such as the need to first speak to a supervisor, owner or manager.

The last thing that is most important is documenting that the new hire has been made aware of the rules and understands them. This is done by having the new hire put their initials in blue ink on every page of the handbook with a company witness watching and that a final page states that, fill in the name, has read and understands all the rules and that any questions where answered to their satisfaction which is signed by both the new hire and the witness and that final page is removable and placed in their file with the handbook itself then given to the employee for their records and future reference. The handbook should also state that this copy is not to be shared, copied or sold and the consequences for so doing, like termination.

It is always good advice to keep a master handbook where your employees can access it at any time incase they can not find their copy or it is not available before they need to know the answer to a question or situation that comes up. You can and should make changes to your handbook as the need arises and all you need to do to make a change is to print out the new page for every employee, have them read and initial it with a witness, a copy should be made for them to take with them to place into their own handbook copy the origianl will go into their file.

In this day and age it is a good idea to have in your handbook explicit rules about the use of cell phones, are they allowed or only provided work phones for business only, on taking personal calls, taking photos with personal phones or business phones, social media accounts, what can or can not be posted to the business social media accounts. Should you even have your employees listed as friends on your business accounts. I say no but some companies do and have very strick rules about what can be shared or seen from these employees accounts. You do not need some employees friend posting porn to their wall and have it reposting to your business page!

Handbooks can be a simple or detailed as you wish them to be. I have seen some that were only two pages to ones that where so thick they where bound! Just make yours what you feel is best for you and your business. Tomorrow will be the last installment about background, credit checks and drug tests.


Tags: Business, Employee Handbook,, Hiring

The hiring interview and how to do it right.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

The interview is the one place most employers fail at the most. No matter how many times you can be told what not to ask or talk about, chances are at some point you will slip up and say or ask something you should not have. Well everyone is human but let us go over what to ask in an interview and see if we can get you to near perfection.


First you should have a script or list of questions you would like to ask in front of you to follow. If you go into an interview without a program you more than likely will get yourself into trouble or miss a critical point. I have been called after an interview by the interviewer because they forgot to ask a specific question. They even said "I was having such a good time talking with you I forgot to ask ______"

Have a separate blank page to write notes on, do not use the edges of the application. You can number it or have a system in place to remind you what that answer or note is in reference too. Of course you want to have the application in front of you to guide your questions and to get the information you ask correct.

You are not allowed to ask any question to force them to reveal their age, race, national origin, gender, religion, marital status or sexual orientation. But as we mentioned yesterday there are questions you can ask to get around the ones you can not ask. Many of these were already handled on the application it's self.

Can not ask                            Ask instead
How old are you?                    Are you older than 21 and able to be put on our vehicle insurance? Only if                                                that will be part of the job.
                                             Are you older than 18 (or 21) to be covered by our accident/liability                                                            insurance or to operate certain equipment?
Are you a US citizen?             Are you authorized to work in the United States? 
Have you been arrested?        Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? Can explain                                                    you will require a background check for employment.
Are you married?                    No way around this one. But asking Are you able to travel? Could be asked                                              but only if job related.
Do you have children?            Do you have any responsibilities that could interfere with having to work late                                              or that could disrupt your schedule? Ex: Not to show up for work.
What country are you from?    No good one here and do not even ask about an accent.
Is English your 1st language? What languages are you proficient in? Especially if the job requires them to                                               be bi-lingual.
Are you in debt or have you
filed bankruptcy?                    You can ask them to submit to a credit check after they are offered the job,                                              as long as it is relevant to the job, ex: will be issued a company credit card.
Do you have a disability?        Can ask if able to physically perform certain tasks or job functions.
Do you drink or smoke?          But you can state that consuming alcohol just prior or during work hours is                                                prohibited and that you require a smoke free work place.
Do you do drugs?                   But can require all applicants to pass a drug screen and if listed in the                                                      handbook to except later random drug tests.
How long have you worked?    But listing the years when they attended school or to list the years they                                                    have been performing a certain job is fine.
What is your religion?             But you can ask if they can work on Saturday or Sunday and if they need                                                 any certain day off other than the listed company days off.

Now on to questions you could or should ask.

Why are you choosing this line of work? or Why do you want this job?
What have you liked doing most in your career, or past job?
What have you liked the least?
Why did you leave your last job? or What was the circumstances surrounding you leaving your last job?
Did you give notice? if yes Did you work out your notice?
What strengths would you bring to this position or job?
What do you feel you may need to learn to do this job well? Or do you think your already know everything there is about doing this job?
What would be your dream job?
Do you like to work in a team or be a leader of a team?
Do you feel comfortable working independently with only verbal instructions and no physical supervision?
What three good or bad points would your last supervisor tell me if asked about you?
What are you expecting out of this job?
Is this the only position in the company you are interested in?
What if anything do you think your last employer did wrong for or to their employees?
What if anything did a past employer do for their employees that impressed you?
Do you know what OSHA is?
Have you ever had OSHA training?
Do you have any type of certified training even if not in this field or industry?
Have you ever been asked to do something you did not believe you should be doing?
If so how did you handle it?
What are your career goals for the next 3-5 years?
How do you see us and or this job helping you reach that goal?
Why should we hire you over someone else?
Do you enjoy continuing education or training?
Are you looking to get continuing education or specialized training while working for us?
How have you handled past conflicting interpersonal work relationships? If they do not understand the wording of the question you could also ask
If you have not gotten along with a co-worker in the past how did you handle it?

Now I am not saying you should use all of these or if they would even be relevant to the job opening you have available but these are good ones and some I have even used. 

Other things to discuss when going over the application.

Ask about any major changes in their career path. Find out why.
Find out about gaps in employment not filled by education or other obvious reasons, such as military service.
Make notes to investigate any conflictions or contradictions you see or heard between the application and the talking with the applicant.
Feel free to discuss if brought up hobbies or how they like to spend their time when not on the job, being clear to not ask about family and personal relationships. They can offer statements but you do not ask. Try to keep and steer the interview conversation back to strictly business points.

Feel free to discuss the duties and responsibility of the job being applied for. 
Any question relevant to the job and the pay itself such as a stipend or per diem.
Questions about the company, the mission statement, programs offered, certifications, achievements, organization affiliations.
Opportunities for job growth, development and individual advancement.
What physical locations or area the company currently covers and if there is a chance or plan to expand or reduce this area.
To discuss the applicants qualification, abilities, experiences, education and interests.
Any problems the applicant has had with past employers or co-workers.

Be careful not to make blanket statements about your employment opportunities. No comments such as; "We would never fire someone who is working hard to get the job done." "People can work here until they are ready to quit as long as they are on time and work hard everyday." These can be taken as promises of continued employment if they get the job and are later let go.

This is still not the time for the applicant to ask questions about specific perks and the cost of things like health insurance, 401 plans. Not until the offer has been made and they have been giving a handbook than all questions from the perspective employee should be answered in regards to those areas. I have had applicants that get all caught up in wanting to know what they and their family can get out of working for the company even before we can decide if we want them to work for us. All you need to discuss is that if you offer a health plan, how much of the employee's part will be covered by the employer, if you offer a 401 plan, any continued education that may be available.

After the interview explain what the next step will be, favorable or not. Including when an offer of employment under the conditions that will be listed in the handbook will be made to the successful applicant.

Next post what goes into the handbook.

Tags: Business, Interview, Hiring

What goes on your application?

Posted by Linda Chambers on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Well the first is obvious, the name of your company and that this is an application you can add address and phone number if you would like or if there are more than one location of your business.

PooleAndersonApplication Image taken from Poole Anderson Construction, online application

Instructions to the applicant such as to fill out the application in ink, I would add blue ink (blue is the accepted legal color, not black which can be later said to be a copy or forgery, blue shows it is an original)

A statement that your business is an equal opportunity employer and follows all the laws, I will not list the statement in full here.

Not to attach a resume unless it is to become part of the official application, but that all information still must be filled out in total on the application even if listed on their resume. This way it is in the hand writing of the applicant and they cannot say later you attached a false resume to their application, or they did not know a mistake was listed on it.

When asking them to fill out their name, make sure it is their legal name and it is fine to also ask for other names they have been known as, this can be helpful when running a back ground check, or the name that they would like to be addressed by if hired.

Ask for their current address and to list any address they have lived in the past 3-5 years, also good for a background check.

You probably already know the things you can not ask on an application or in an interview like, marital status, age, whether they have children, or if a women, plan on having children, their religion etc…

But there are things you can ask for as ways around asking these questions:

By having them list their birth date and to mark a box stating that they are of legal age (18 or 21) to operate certain equipment, for insurance reasons. Only once hired can you ask for a list of their dependents for reasons such as for insurance, not before on an application. But they might ask you in an interview about your insurance coverage and you should only state the individual policy price not covered or paid in part by you the employer, which might have them ask you ‘What would the family rate be?’ I would then remind them that question should wait until further along in the hiring process. This comes once you are formally offering them the position and they get to learn those answers before they deciede if they will accept.

As long as they ask the question that gives you this information you did not ask for you are safe. But you must be careful not to indicate that any of the unasked information might have been or was used in the hiring process for that job. Never make notes on the application itself during an interview, use a separate piece of paper. You can ask if they can legally work in the United States and require proof later before hiring, if they have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, have points on their driver license etc. these are part of public record. You can ask if there is any day they can not work or would rather not work. For instance have a list of Sunday thru Saturday on the application with instructions for them to circle or mark the days of the week they are available to work. Same with times of day they can work. Of course you can also include in the job description the days and times that are required for the job they are applying for and if they will not work on a certain day (due to their religion) they are the one making themselves unable to be hired, not you.

Ask for not only the standard list of past employers, business references as well as personal and their education but industry specific certifications as well and any training they have already received. You should also state that copies of these certifications are to be provided if hired to be placed in their file. These can be very useful to save you money for you as a business and for marketing. You can also state that they must be able to be bonded if you would like. This also can be good for you for insurance reasons as well as in marketing your business.

You can ask them to list the languages they speak and if they can read and understand English this is to be sure they will be able to read and understand signs, labels and vebal instructions during work.  

You may want to ask if they have applied before, many states do not require you to keep or consider for new hire people from past application times, check with your state as to how long this may be.

You can ask if they know or are related to anyone current or former person that has worked for your business.

You can ask if they are physically able to perform the work as discribed in the job discription or if they have not been given one, list peramitors here; able to lift up to 50lbs, twist and bend at the waist so many degrees (range of motion), able to hold object over head for at least two minutes, etc.

You can ask if they have reliable transportation but unless they are applying for a position where they will be required to drive one of your vehicles you can not ask for a MVR, that is for insurance purposes only.

You must include a statement at the bottom of the application just before the signature line that tells the applicant that all areas must be filled out completely, nothing left blank, must be accurate and may be followed up on and any lack there of can be used as reason not to except them as a candidate for employment, while an employee or for termination if they become an employee and any information later are found to be false.

Make sure your application is as detailed as you need it to be, do not worry about it not fitting on one page front and back like a store bought one. Some of the best jobs I ever had, had applications 4-5 pages long. And the information you need to be sure the applicant will work is much different than one wanting to work at a fast food joint or movie theater.

You might want to add a section next to each past job asking for a description of the work they did at that job, ask for the name of a supervisor or co-worker that is still there with phone number if different then the main number, and ask why they left. If there are gaps in education or employment ask what they were doing for that time even if it was not work in the current field they are applying for. Answers to these may give you a clue as to other aspects that could affect their job performance with your company or reasons why they would make the best fit. Any negative information you find that may cause you to not consider the candidate should be brought up to the candidate so they can challenge the information. If not and you do not hire them, and they later find out what you where told was miss information, they could come back legally against you in some instances.

You can ask why they are applying, what they have liked or not liked during previous employment. But these can  be questions you can also bring up during the interview process and not have listed on the application.

For some of you that have businesses in a state like GA, a right to work state, the employer has right to hire/fire laws and you may not have to give any reason as to why you did not choose someone so long it is not one of the illegal ones, but for many of you the employee holds more cards than the employer does in this process and you have to make sure you stay on the right side of the law. As with any of our blogs the information given here are general guidelines and you should check what the laws are currently in your state. Tomorrow we start on the Handbook.

Tags: Business, Application, Hiring

Hiring procedures for new employees

Posted by Linda Chambers on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Things you need to understand and think about when looking for a new employee.


Most of you never went to college to take classes on hiring, so unless you have earned a degree in Human Resources, everyone needs help in this area. Most of what I know I learned myself while running my own business, managing other's businesses and working with very good HR people over the years. Here is the short version of what you need to know.

1. Deatails of your businesses hiring procedures need to be written down somewhere, preferably in a handbook, which we will discuss in detail in the next blog.
2. Your procedures MUST be the same for EVERY applicant, so not to come under scrutiny by the Federal Fair Practices Act.
3. That this written procedure includes the end game as well as the beginning and that you have listed reasons and procedures for employee termination (firing) as well as hiring.
This way, no unhired prospect, current or former employee can win in a law suit against you. This is not to say they can not file one, anyone can do that, but you just want to be sure they will not win and walk off with a big payday for it.

Tags: Business, hiring procedures,, Hiring

The 4 steps to hiring employees.

Posted by Linda Chambers on Mon, Jun 15, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

I have seen this issue coming up a lot lately and I even started working on this series last year but never finished it. So I think now is a good time to get it done and posted.

The number one expense per job in a service business is your labor costs. So you need to be sure that the money you spend is for someone that is qualified to do the work and will expand your businesses good name.

The four steps to hiring employees: 4stepsofHiring

You have a set hiring procedure in place before you every place that first want ad.
First you should have a detailed application just for your company not some office supply store form.
Second is the interview process to help select the right potential candidate.
Third you should have an employee handbook, that is given to every new hire and signed for.
Fourth by following the rest of the steps spelled out in the handbook that applies to the job such as the need for a background, credit check and drug screening.

Taking these steps will not only give your customers value that you can spot light in your marketing but will give you added value as well in the long run by knowing you have skilled, qualified, drug free employees representing you and your company. The old adage 'You get what you pay for' can be attested to by anyone that has just hired someone off the street or because a friend of a friend said he was a good worker and knew what he was doing, only to have anything from major trouble to just routine annoyance caused by this person. Hopefully you have not been damaged too severely so far but by following these steps you will greatly improve your odds of never having to worry about it.

These steps can save you money by reducing employee absenteeism, possible reduction in insurance premium rates, reduce or eliminate loss due to theft, increase the quality of employees that should work better and safer allowing you to do more jobs without increasing man power.

I will go over in the next four blog posts this weeks information on each of these points, that you can go to, and use on your own.

Tags: Employee Handbook,, Hiring

Sign up for Newsletter by Email

Latest Posts

Posts by category