When it comes to human resources, many small businesses suffer from a lack of it. Whether they simply don’t have an HR department to begin with or their staff is just barely able to keep up with their jobs, the fact of the matter is that HR can go by the wayside all too easily in a small business. Worse, that often means that small businesses aren’t looking at the bigger picture surrounding their HR policies and practices—which can lead to problems later on down the road.

Instead of relying on your overworked HR team or your own imperfect understanding of legal practices such as employment law and hiring legislation, you should consider getting some help with general HR counsel.


Your HR team is probably not made up of legal specialists, and you yourself may not be familiar with the ins and outs of the legislation that governs businesses in your jurisdiction. That could mean that your HR policies are outdated, or that contracts you’re drawing up actually contain legally unenforceable clauses.

General HR counsel can help small businesses that find themselves in this situation by giving them access to networks of experts. General counsel can help steer a small business on policy creation and enforcement, hiring practices, employment legislation, and contracts, to ensure everything the business does is on the up and up.


One thing that small businesses often lose sight of is the big picture; staff can quickly be overwhelmed by the minutiae of everyday tasks, so much so that the overarching structure of HR is sometimes neglected. That can mean policies or procedures aren’t being reviewed—or even that the business doesn’t have a formal policy or procedure in place.

HR counsel can help businesses identify those gaps and create or update policies and procedures to ensure they’re compliant with both the law and good HR practice. That can help your HR team too, as it gives them a framework to operate within. No longer do they need to worry about whether or not a contract is legally enforceable, because they have a template contract your general counsel has crafted, which ensures they’re within the law. That can make the process of hiring much faster.


Small businesses often resist seeking counsel because they think the costs are too high. If you stop and think about it, however, HR counsel can save your firm both time and money. It can help strengthen and update policies and procedures, which can then be used to help your HR department streamline everything from drawing up a contract to onboarding a new employee—or terminating a contract. It can also mean that your firm avoids any costly legal slip ups, such as unaccounted-for liabilities in a contract, or leaving the firm open to a lawsuit by a disgruntled former employee. A little goes a long way with counsel—and almost any small business would be wise to invest in it.


Chances are that you don’t need counsel on a day-to-day basis or for a prolonged period of time. If that were the case, you might look to hire another staff member for your HR department. Instead, look to outside firms that provide counsel on an as-needed basis. You’ll get the advice and expertise you need when you need it.


Overall, human resources counsel is an easy way for small businesses to improve their HR without overcommitting themselves. And, as many small businesses quickly find, improving HR really means improving the business overall. It might be time to invest a little to upgrade your human resources.

Felicia Smith

Felicia is the manager of human capital solutions at AugmentHR. With over six years of recruitment experience coupled with multi-faceted HR roles, Felicia is an expert in matching people with the right role and environment. She has worked in many different industries, including investment banking, HR consulting firms, medical, and commercial. Understanding people is one of her strengths, and she has recruited at every level, from directors, project managers, and engineers to operators and general labourers. Her ability to network and develop relationships has been a key tool to her success. With approximately two years of experience managing people and creating a positive work environment, Felicia’s diverse skill set makes her a well-rounded individual. Her business education and background help her identify different business needs and human capital solutions.

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