An out-of-date employee handbook can leave both your employees and your business out of touch. Not only that, but it can also leave your business open to liabilities and litigation.
The best way to avoid this is to regularly check to make sure that your employee handbook is up-to-date with the latest information regarding state and federal regulations as well as cultural shifts that are occurring around the world.
The employee handbook is meant to keep business leaders and employees on the same page. In order to achieve this, it must accurately reflect cultural norms and current interpretations of employment laws. Here are 4 key sections that you may want to consider revisiting to ensure a modern and all-encompassing employee handbook:
COVID-19 Related Updates
COVID-19 has brought with it some key pieces of legislation that affect employees in some critical ways. For example, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 extended the FFCRA’s refundable tax credits until March 31, 2021, which are available to covered employers that voluntarily provide expanded family and medical leave and/or emergency paid sick leave.
Employers that continue to provide paid leave under the FFCRA may want to consider updating their handbooks to ensure that employees are aware of these new policies.
We recommend that you always monitor local, state, and federal laws to make sure that any changes are reflected in your policies. While most laws do not change very often, there are always new pieces of legislation being passed that can alter employee rights and benefits related to COVID-19.
Safety and Health Policies
Continuing on the track of COVID-19-induced trends, safety and health policies are another good example of a section that requires constant due diligence in order to maintain. Workplace safety measures and health guidelines are constantly changing, especially with new social distancing and sanitation policies becoming more and more normal.
Accordingly, it is essential for employers to address workplace safety and health in their employee handbooks.
Employers may want to implement or revise handbook policies that include information regarding the responsibility of every employee to work safely, any social distancing requirements, the potential hazards of the workplace, and the responsibility to report illnesses when present in the office so as to prevent transmission among employees.
Dress Code Policies
Dress code policies in modern times are beginning to change. In the past, it was considered an obligation to wear business professional attire and to cover tattoos — with no exceptions. Recently, however, our culture has begun to shift and become more lenient and accepting of different styles of attire. The dress code section of many employee handbooks has shrunk down from limiting a wide variety of clothing items to simply calling it “business casual.”
While most companies will probably fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, updating this clause of the employee handbook and revisiting modern cultural norms and the industry you are in could be a valuable update to your handbook. Modernizing these policies could result in a more productive and cohesive workplace while also attracting young and vibrant talent.
Has marijuana been legalized in your state? If so, it may be time to consider updating your drug policies.
Even though marijuana is legalized, many employers still do not want their employees to come to work under the influence. This is why many employers opt to include specific clauses in this section that acknowledges that marijuana is legal to use, but how it still is not allowed to be used in or near the workplace.
Additionally, it is helpful to consider drug test policies and whether you still would like to require them. Many modern employers are beginning to cut drug test requirements as long as employees can remain productive and are not showing up to work under the influence of these substances.
We recommend taking this on a case-by-case basis and discussing with your team what you feel fits best with your work environment, industry, and job-specific requirements.
Overall, there are many shifts occurring in the workplace. From remote work to a business casual workplace, it can be a lot to keep up with! This is why we recommend working with professionals who are well-equipped to guide your business based on industry-specific best practices and the latest updates happening around the world. If you haven’t done so in a while, consider updating your employee handbook and re-centering your relationship with your workforce.
HR Search and Rescue is a full-service HR firm that specializes in helping both employers and employees maximize efficiency in the workplace. We can help to address a variety of common workplace issues and always strive to help clients feel safe and valued. Contact us online to get started with updating your employee handbook today.