By Becky Mello, guest contributor to Leading Edige Legal Advice for Everyday Matters
FRESNO, CA/WASHINGTON, June 9, 2012 – Employee legal issues are a hidden cost and they may be costing you a fortune. If your employees are struggling with legal problems, they can easily become your headache too.
CCH, a leading provider of human resources and employment law information, reported an estimated 67 percent of unscheduled absences are for reasons other than illness. No-shows cost money. Yet many employers still do not analyze the benefits of an employee legal plan, which can save the company thousands of dollars.
Segments of our population call attorneys for advice every day. Wealthy Americans, business owners and leaders of organizations do not make decisions without legal review. For the middle-class, however, the only affordable way to access the legal system may be through a legal service plan.
Legal plans typically allow their members to call plan attorneys for what amounts to “free advice.” Imagine the stress reduction when someone, your employee, can have information about a legal problem or concern now, instead of dwelling on it and worrying about how to pay for the advice.
A Fresno, California school employee saved hours of haggling with an online loan provider when a promised refund of $367 was denied. Her legal plan attorney wrote a letter, and within a week, a full refund was received. The cost of consultation and the letter were covered as part of her employee legal plan.
Another Fresno legal plan user was sent notice of a tax audit. His legal plan provided an attorney who accompanied him to the audit. The attorney’s fees totaled thousands of dollars and the legal plan covered the cost. The audit was resolved and the employee was better able to stay focused on his job as an ironworker.
Providing attorney representation in court for things like traffic tickets, and preparing a Last Will and Testament, are also typically covered by these plans. When your employee does not have to take a day off to fight a speeding ticket, your business process remains uninterrupted.
The American Bar Association estimates that 7 out of 10 employees are in need of some kind of legal advice annually; most of them, for various reasons including privacy concerns, do not provide the details of their legal matters to their employers. Most, however, would benefit by using an attorney to help navigate legal issues.
Typically, legal matters cannot be resolved in the evening or on the weekend. According to EAP Consultants, Inc., each year, employees spend 22 hours on the job resolving property-related events and 29 hours on the job resolving personal financial events.
In 2010, LegalShield, formerly Pre-Paid Legal Services, a 40-year old provider of employee legal service plans, reported 2.1 million calls from their members to provider law firms, with more than 360,000 calls specifically asking for help with real estate issues.
Indirect costs resulting from substitutes, scheduling, rework, lost productivity and diminished morale may exceed the direct costs of wages and benefits paid during the employee’s absence. The feelings of helplessness in legal and legal-related issues may dramatically increase stress levels. Author Ravi Tangri reports in Stress Cost, Stress-Cures, that stress can be attributed, approximately 60 percent, to worker’s compensation awards and 40 percent to turnover rates.
Robert L. Heston, Jr., CEO of Legal Access Plans, L.L.C., writes, “… an employee legal plan [offered either as a voluntary benefit or as an employer-paid benefit] can help insulate an employer from the liability of employee mistakes, accidents, and the cost of work productivity in some instances.” During the recent economic crisis, employees suffered devastating legal and financial losses.
Loan modifications, foreclosures, repossessions and credit card debt soared and continue to do so. Further, issues such as family law matters, consumer problems and assistance with medical plans all take time away from the job and add significant stress to workers. Employees are taking time off work to deal with legal and financial woes, and by necessity, are making calls while on the job.
So how do you keep your employees on the job doing what you hired them to do? Work-life programs help reduce stress and help employees feel appreciated. Employee assistance plans (EAPs) are helpful with a few consultations per year, offering initial counseling. Another practical choice is a comprehensive employee legal plan. It is reasonable to consider that the more time and money an employee saves having affordable access to legal counsel, the more time and money their company will save in lost work time.
According to Attorney Paul A. Samakow, a featured legal analyst on The Washington Times Radio Andy Parks Show in the Washington, DC area, “What makes an employee legal plan a no-brainer for employers, beyond the needed access to the justice system and resulting higher productivity among employees, is that these plans typically have virtually no cost to the employer.”
This information was provided by Becky Mello and edited by Paul A. Samakow.
Becky Mello is an independent sales and marketing associate with LegalShield. She is a native of Fresno, CA. Contact: 559.313.5075 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980. He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website. He is also available to speak to your group on numerous legal topics. Paul is the featured legal analyst on the Washington Times Radio, on the Andy Parks show, on Wednesdays at 5:15 P.M., and he is a columnist on the Washington Times Communities.
His book The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You is free to Maryland and Virginia residents and can be obtained by ordering it on his website; others can obtain it on Amazon.
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