While there are a number of careers available to those with human resources experience, you might want to look at some of the functions of an employee relations manager before you apply for positions in this field.

As a branch of HR management, employee relations managers look out for the best interests of employees and assist employers with contract disputes and negotiations.

Consult on New and Existing Policies

The policies that a company has in place determines the way employees can act. Most companies have sexual harassment laws that forbid employees from treating others in a negative way because of gender or sexual orientation. Employee relations managers are the ones responsible for setting new policies and ensuring that all workers follow those policies. In addition to policies relating to sexual harassment, you may create policies and programs regarding drug or alcohol use, the way employees act on social networking sites and how they act around clients.

Create Benefits Packages

Employee relations managers and human resources managers often work together when creating benefits packages. Benefits packages refer to all benefits awarded to employees, including vacation time, sick leave, maternity leave, health insurance and stock incentives. When creating one of these packages, you need to talk with employees about what they want and need, compare prices from different insurers and decide if all employees should receive the same package. Some companies now offer better benefits for employees who were with the company longer and offer fewer benefits to new employees.

Act as a Union Representative

Depending on the industry you work in, you may need to act as a union rep on the job. Unions provide job stability and security to workers who pay annual dues. If a problem arises, a rep from the union will meet with reps from the company to determine what to do next. You may work as a representative for that union or meet with one of those reps on behalf of your employer. The union will want to know that your company followed all the standards it put in place and that workers did not violate any laws.

Negotiate New Contracts

Contract negotiations is another key duty of those working as employee relations managers. Salaried employees sign a contract that outlines all the benefits they will receive and what employers expect them to do on the job. Once that contract expires, you’ll meet with management to find out what that department wants and then meet with the employee to determine what he or she wants. You must then negotiate between the two parties to come up with a new contract that pleases both sides. This may involve adding more paid time off, reducing a benefits package or increasing a worker’s salary.

Comply with All Laws

The Society for Human Resource Management created a template that employee relations managers can follow when creating a resume and applying for a new job. The SHRM includes one duty that those managers perform as complying with all federal, state and local laws pertaining to employment. Those laws include not discriminating against potential applicants on the basis of factors like race or age, ensuing that employers follow all OSHA standards and providing employees with a safe place to discuss problems they experienced on the job.

Employee relations jobs share some similarities with human resource jobs. The main difference is that employee relations specialists focus more on the workers than on the company as a whole. Some of the functions of an employee relations manager include complying with all laws, negotiating contracts, consulting on all new policies and working with the union.

See also: Top 10 Best Online Master’s in HR Degree Programs (MSHR) 2016