With the New Year approaching and upcoming changes to laws regarding the Family Medical Leave Act, Military Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it’s timely to review your handbook to make certain that it is current.
Why an employee handbook?
- Handbooks can be valuable communication and employee relations tools.
- They help maintain consistency among supervisors to avoid misunderstandings about workplace policies.
- Handbooks help orient new employees and let them know what is expected of them.
- Written statements of policies can help reduce the need for employees to seek out union representation in the workplace.
- Clear work rules help support your disciplinary procedures and avoid discrimination charges.
- Handbooks should be written in a clear, organized and non-technical style to avoid excessive questions and errors in interpretation.
- Every employee should receive a copy of the company’s handbook.
- When introducing a new handbook or major revisions, the company should have a representative go over the material personally with every employee.
- Have the employee sign an acknowledgement of receipt of the handbook which includes the statements that the handbook does not constitute a contract of employment; is not all inclusive and is only a set of guidelines; and that changes can be made to the handbook and policies at any time.
- Keep your handbook up to date and notify employees in writing of any changes in policies and procedures.
- Use terminology that could imply that the handbook is an employment contract, such as “permanent” empoyees — use the term “regular”.
- Make statements such as “You will have a job as long as you perform your duties”. This implies a long-term or indefinite commitment.
- Use “cause” of “Just cause” as it relates to termination. You may have to prove that termination is not overly severe and the violation merits termination.
- Use excessive “legalese” which may upset or confuse employees. The handbook should be written in a positive manner.
The above recommendations are not all-inclusive of what needs to be considered in preparing your employee handbook. Some employers have lost discrimination cases because of poorly written handbooks. On the other hand, if you have been trying to avoid having a written handbook and are relying on unwritten policies, you might have a problem proving what your policies are in the case of a discrimination case.
We at EffortlessHR believe that an effective employee handbook is a foundation upon which you can build your organization. To assist you in this effort, check out our new venture, Effortless Employee Handbook Builder