Most small companies can't afford full-time personnel managers, but in a world of mounting regulation and litigation, neither can they afford to be casual in dealing with employees. Enter Personnel Products & Services Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif., company that offers The Personnel Director, a kind of do-it-yourself human-resources department.

The system, designed for use by lay-people, includes a two-drawer file cabinet containing basic information on state and federal employment laws (mercifully free of legalese), plus guidelines on everything from recruitment to termination. Customers also receive a regular update service, advising them of changes in the laws and regulations; a hot-line number for call-in questions; and limited access to firms specializing in various aspects of personnel management and law. For an initial fee of $3,000, you get both the file cabinet and the services. The services may be renewed annually for $300 per year.