April 11, 2022, by HR Search & Rescue Well-prepared employee handbooks are essential documents that should serve as your organization’s primary reference. They provide several critical benefits, from establishing the organizational culture to communicating company policies and expectations. Employee handbooks must also establish a legal buffer zone that protects your organization in the event of an employment-related lawsuit. Outdated or ambiguous guidelines could expose your business to unnecessary and otherwise avoidable legal risks. Therefore, careful and regular review of employee handbooks is imperative. Although there is no standardized protocol for how to conduct such reviews, best practices will involve evaluating employee handbooks to ensure that crucial organizational procedures and policy changes are both comprehensive and up to date. This includes updating the handbook to reflect the latest changes to international, federal, or state employment laws. Employees entrust you to lead them to success – which is why your organization’s employee handbook must be as straightforward and explicit as possible. Described below are the fundamental reasons why your organization should routinely revise its employee handbook. A Renewed Effort To Comply With Employee-Related Laws & Regulations It’s crucial to keep in mind that employee handbooks could be used as legal documents in court. For example, if an employee brings a lawsuit against your organization, you may be held to your handbook’s standards. It is in your organization’s best interest to periodically review and update the employee handbook under the guidance of legal counsel. Federal and state employment laws can change at a moment’s notice. Likewise, agency and court interpretations of current laws and regulations are always evolving. In the last few years alone, there has been a surge in new employment laws. Again, refer to your organization’s legal counsel to ensure that your employee handbooks are in alignment with new or changing employment regulations The employee handbook, as well as any staff-specific policies that may be unique to your organization but are otherwise not mandated by law, could become essential evidence in a lawsuit. If your organization terminates an employee for poor performance, disciplinary action policies and employee conduct standards will be pivotal information for a jury or other decision-maker to see. Likewise, questions about Paid Time Off (PTO) payout and stable scheduling statutes may arise. Always assign an HR manager – as well as legal counsel – to track employment law changes and update the employee handbook accordingly. Update Discrimination And Harassment Laws Your employee handbook should include fair and equitable policies that clearly outline what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable interactions between employees, management, and the company. Given increased media attention on sexual harassment, racism, and gender and sexuality-based discrimination, it is more urgent than ever to carefully review your handbook’s compliance with laws and regulations governing workplace discrimination and harassment. This includes any and all procedures for filing complaints and investigating allegations of discrimination or harassment. Harassment policies involve prohibitions contingent on legally protected categories and addressing sexual harassment. It is crucial to maintain transparency in the complaint-filing process and to provide appropriate complaint-filing options to employees who work different or non-standard shifts. Federal anti-discrimination laws have existed for some time. Most states have since enacted additional laws to prohibit workplace discrimination and protect employees. Again, your HR department and legal counsel should stay ahead of new or changing laws to ensure that your employee handbook remains in compliance. Ensure Employee Training And Get Their Acknowledgement Make sure that all employees have access to the employee handbook, that they read it thoroughly, and that they acknowledge the policies in writing. Moreover, ensure the handbook reiterates an at-will policy and directs employees to HR if they wish to raise any questions or complaints regarding new or updated employee policies. Employee acknowledgment documents should identify that the employee understands what qualifies as a policy violation, even if those violations are already outlined in the employee handbook. This will help to ensure employee compliance. Keep in mind that whenever your organization makes significant changes to its employee handbook, employees and management will need to undergo additional training. An up-to-date employee handbook is an invaluable tool for your organization. It will make an excellent first impression in the eyes of new hires, who will see it as a comprehensive overview of the organization’s business operations, company culture, and general policies. It also provides general expectations for more tenured employees and ensures that they adhere to new and changing business practices. Furthermore, an up-to-date employee handbook functions as official evidence that your organizational policies adhere to and are mindful of employment laws. Get Rid Of Superfluous Language Where You Can Most employers already know that by adding an at-will policy to their company’s employee handbook, it makes clear to employees that their employment may be terminated at any time for any lawful reason. At-will policies should make clear that a handbook is not a contract and that the organization may revise policies without advance notice. Rigid disciplinary steps, impractical commitments, or unnecessary statements can make employers liable. This is why it’s pivotal that employee handbooks use clear, easy-to-understand, no-nonsense language when describing the rules and regulations that govern employees. For example, employers should be careful to distinguish what types of extended or personal leave may or may not qualify under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Get An Expert Overview Of Your Employee Handbook An employee handbook that establishes clear rules and guidelines will ensure that all workers receive adequate education concerning their duties and expectations from management. Without a practical employee handbook, your organization may suffer otherwise avoidable employee disagreements – as well as costly legal issues. Needless to say, employee handbooks are essential for resolving as well as preventing workplace conflicts and disputes. You may already be strategizing how to update your employee handbook to incorporate new and vital information. HR Search & Rescue is ready to help your business develop the ultimate employee handbook that will better educate employees about their roles and responsibilities. Moreover, our experts guarantee that your new employee handbook reflects your unique company culture while establishing compliance with all local, federal, and state employment regulations. Reach out to HR Search & Rescue today if you’re in need of a revitalized employee handbook. Whether you require only slight changes and updates to your handbook or a top-to-bottom rewrite, we’re game for any employee handbook service you need. Visit our site today to learn how we can help you improve and update the employee handbook.