Employers should have an employee handbook that lets employees understand the policies and procedures that they are expected to follow in the workplace. It gives an overview of specific practices that employees should familiarize themselves with to create a positive work culture. There are times when employers create an initial handbook and never look at it again. If your handbook is not updated, as needed, for the changing regulatory compliance areas or changes in your workplace practices, it is outdated. Here are some things that employers should think about regarding handbooks in order to keep them up-to-date and compliant with state and federal laws.
- One size does not fit all. Your handbook should reflect the culture of your organization, its policies, and the laws in your state. Make sure that the topics covered are relevant to your organization.
- Review your policies to be sure that one policy does not conflict with another. Make sure that your policies are in sync to resolve any conflicts that may arise.
- Refrain from using the words “permanent employee”. Under the “at will” doctrine, an employee can be terminated at any time for any reason and vice versa. Nobody is a permanent employee at any stage of the employee life cycle.
- Create policies for the many and not for the few. Make sure that policies address situations that cover all employees. Making a policy because one employee has done something out of the ordinary should be handled as an employee relations issue and not a need for establishing a policy.
- Handbooks should have a disclaimer that the employee handbook is not a contract in any way.
- Cover both the state and the federal laws in the handbook. Any item in your handbook that conflicts with state law is invalid and not defensible.
- Coach your supervisors. Workplace practices that you include in the handbook should be policies that your supervisors will enforce in a fair and consistent manner. Inconsistent treatment of employees could result in legal action.
- Keep current with new laws that become effective each year. October and January are the most frequent dates when new legislation is effective. Update your handbook.
- Review your dress code policy. There are significant changes in clothing that has become permissible in the workplace. Also make sure your policy is gender neutral.
- A few wrong words in your policies could cause confusion. Make sure that policies are clear and easy to follow.
Your handbook is a valuable piece of communication to your employees. Ensure that it reflects the areas that are needed to maintain a positive workplace. Old information can lead to confusion, discontent and even litigation. Is your handbook up-to-date? If it needs a review, contact KardasLarson for a professional review and update.