What is a waiver?

The waiver is a term commonly used in HR and refers to an Individual’s voluntary decision to give up their rights to something. This can be a legal right or a contractual obligation, typically done through a formal written document or agreement.

Waivers can be used for various purposes, such as waiving the right to sue an employer for certain types of grievances or waiving the right to receive certain types of benefits or compensation. Employers may also require employees to sign waivers as a condition of employment.

It is important to note that waivers are only sometimes enforceable, and there may be legal limitations on the types of rights that can be waived. For example, in some cases, waiver of certain legal rights may be considered against public policy and, therefore, unenforceable.

As an HR professional, it is important to clearly understand the legal and ethical considerations surrounding waivers and ensure that any waivers used by your organization are properly drafted and legally enforceable.

Key takeaways

  • A waiver is a legally binding provision in which one party in a contract agrees to give up a claim without holding the other party liable. Such waivers can be documented in written form or through some form of action.
  • There are different types of waivers, including waivers of parental rights, liability waivers, tangible goods waivers, and waivers for grounds of inadmissibility. Waivers are often used when settling lawsuits, as one party may not want the other to pursue legal action against them after a settlement has been reached. 
  • Signing a waiver helps mitigate risk exposure. It is a common practice to sign waivers in various situations, such as when participating in a potentially risky activity or using a product or service that could possibly result in harm.

Here are a few examples of waivers

1. Liability waiver

Employers commonly use this type to protect themselves from legal claims or liability. For example, an employer may require employees to sign a liability waiver before participating in a company-sponsored activity or event.

2. Non-compete waiver

Some employers may require employees to sign a non-compete agreement as a condition of employment. This type of waiver typically prohibits employees from working for a competitor or starting a competing business for a certain period of time after leaving the employer.

3. Wage and hour waiver

In some cases, employers may ask employees to waive their right to overtime pay or other types of compensation. However, it’s important to note that such waivers may not always be enforceable under state or federal law.

4. Benefits waiver

Employers may also offer employees certain benefits, such as health insurance or retirement plans. However, employees may have the option to waive these benefits if they choose to enroll in a different plan or if they are covered under a spouse’s plan.

It’s important to note that the legality and enforceability of waiver can vary depending on the specific circumstances and applicable laws. Therefore, it’s recommended to consult with legal counsel before implementing any waivers in the workplace.

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