By Kim Koratsky*
On occasion, we discover a problem only once it becomes one. For example, employers find that a long time employee, whose position requires a professional registration or license, has lost the requisite credentials for the position. While the employee had the proper credentials when hired, the credentials lapsed, were suspended, or became revoked. Many positions require licenses, certifications, and registrations; for example:
- Lawyers are licensed
- Accountants are certified
- Doctors and Nurses are licensed
- Environmental Engineers are certified
- Law Enforcement Officers are POST certified
- X-Ray Technicians are both registered and licensed
- Court Reporters are licensed
- Paralegals are certified
- Building Inspectors are certified
Certifications and registrations are typically earned from a professional society or educational institute while licenses are usually issued by state agencies. In some cases, the license or certification is required in order to perform the job in question (lawyers, doctors, law enforcement), in other cases, the requirement is called for as a sought-after qualification, but is not legally required in order to do the job (paralegals and computer-related certifications such as Microsoft or Cisco). Some of these professions also require members to earn continuing education credit on a regular basis. For example, Tennessee Building Inspectors must earn 36 hours of continuing education every three years in order to maintain their certification.
Certainly, it is important for an employer to have a policy requiring employees to notify the employer should the employee’s license or certification be revoked, suspended, or otherwise lapse. However, employees are not always forthcoming with such information. For that reason, it is probably more important that employers have a policy to check the status of licenses and certifications on a routine and regular basis, just as they may do with driver licenses when an employee operates a company vehicle. Remember, it may not only be improper to allow an unlicensed or uncertified employee perform services for a company, it may well be illegal.
*Mr. Koratsky was formerly a partner at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, LLP and co-administrator for this blog. He is now Senior Assistant County Attorney in the Shelby County Attorney’s Office in Memphis, Tennessee.