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Hiring

When hiring employees, negligent hiring practices can doom the process. Learn from your colleagues’ successes – and avoid their pitfalls.

Smart interview questions, well-written job descriptions, and sharp interviewing result in hiring employees that work out well, AND make you look good in the process.

We’ve all heard the good news: The recession is crawling to a resolution and the economy will slowly get back to normal. Most of the executives I know don’t believe it. Employee-focused HR folks are hoping we’ll get back to business as usual on the comp and benefits front. But you might want to run that by your chief financial officer.

Employers sometimes mistakenly believe that hiring a temporary employee through an agency means they won’t be liable if the worker files a discrimination or harassment complaint. The fact is that most temps—even if they are paid and generally managed by an agency—are still “employees” of the organization where they actually perform work. And they’re entitled to work in an environment free of harassment and discrimination.

Does your selection process rely heavily on how applicants handle themselves during job interviews? If so, be aware that courts are often suspicious of such inherently subjective decision-making. That’s why it’s best to document how objective qualifications—such as education and experience—counted for more than the fleeting impression of an interview.

Employers sometimes use independent contractors as a way to lower their benefits and other labor costs. But that kind of economizing can turn out to be quite expensive if a court decides that the independent contractor is really an employee. One of the deciding factors in such cases is how much independence a worker has to control his work. The greater the employer’s control, the greater the likelihood that the “independent contractor” is really an employee.

President Obama’s 2011 budget plan calls for the U.S. Department of Labor to hire 100 new enforcement personnel and gain $25 million in new funding to target employers that misclassify workers as independent contractors (ICs). This comes on the heels of a huge IRS audit program starting last month that randomly selects 6,000 employers for audits over IC and other employment tax issues. Here's a three-factor guideline on how to classify employee or Independent Contractor based off the IRS checklist:

With the unemployment rate still holding stubbornly near 10%, Congress this month approved a new $18 billion bill that offers tax breaks to employers who add certain new employees to the payroll. President Obama signed it on March 18.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 was enacted in response to concerns that insurers and employers could use results of genetic testing to discriminate against applicants and employees. Covered employers should consider updating their employment policies and practices to comply with GINA’s many technical requirements.

The new Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act includes a provision to extend the enhanced Section 179 deduction for another year. Without the extension, the maximum Section 179 deduction would drop from $250,000 for 2009 to $134,000 this year.

While subjective factors such as chemistry can play an important role in hiring, studies show that differences in race, gender and culture may subconsciously influence these feelings—and set you up for a discrimination complaint. Courts have flatly stated that the more subjective factors you use in hiring, the more likely a court will challenge your decision-making.

The federal government will begin accepting employers’ petitions for H1-B visas on April 1, the first step employers must take to hire foreign workers to fill certain “professional” and “specialty occupation” positions. A better economy means the available 85,000 visas might be snapped up fast this year. Here's how to get a jump on your competition.