By Gillian Hasley, eBusiness Manager, Monster UKIE

Negligent hiring occurs when you take on an employee who proceeds to cause a problem to the company, another employee or customers.

Negligence, as the name suggest, is a very real legal problem for you as an employer and it encompasses many areas. Principally, it is when you, as an employer are found negligent in providing an employee with the ability to engage in a particular act.

Four basic causes of action may arise from such a scenario: negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision and negligent training.

Your duties as an employer

Hiring somebody negligently can apply to trouble-makers or those with a record of causing workplace unrest. In the case of a serial trouble-maker, for example, you, as the employer, might have reasonably avoided the situation by taking due care and diligence in your decision to hire.

For example, a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace may have a cause of action for negligent hiring on your employer if she can show that you, as an employer, were aware of the harasser having a previous history of harassment.

This is because you have an obligation to your employers to provide a safe and productive working environment.

How to avoid negligent hiring

Obviously the most effective way to avoid negligent hiring is to perform a reasonable investigation on potential employees. This involves at the very least:

- Conducting interviews

- Verifying work and educational histories

- Check references

It is always advisable to conduct a background check on all applicants who have accepted an offer of conditional hire, and if an adverse assessment is found, to deny employment to such an applicant.

What is important is that you took reasonable care to avoid hiring negligently, although this level of reasonableness could vary depending on the seriousness of the circumstances.

Other forms of negligent firing

Closely linked to negligent employment are three other areas:

Negligent retention - This occurs where an employer fails to remove somebody from a position of authority or responsibility when it is clear that they are misusing these duties in a way that endangers others.

Negligent supervision - This occurs where an employer fails to reasonably monitor or control the actions of an employee.

Negligent training - This arises when an employer's training of the employee is inadequate in some way, and which leads to an accident.

The above are all closely linked, and in many cases, are used as alternative claims against the employer especially negligent hiring in the first place.

Further protecting yourself against negligent hiring

As an employer you're bound to make the appropriate initial checks to protect yourself against negligent hiring. However, further, deeper checks can involve a criminal records search reaching back the last seven years. You may also wish to ask for three business or professional references and confirm all professional qualifications and licenses claimed by the applicant.

Avoiding negligent hiring requires a common sense approach and some consistent planning but need not be draconian. You are simply protecting your interests and those of your employees.

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