Why Employee Handbooks Matter

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 Why Employee Handbooks Matter electronic employee handbook acknowledgement form

Employee handbooks first and foremost reserve and protect the rights of an employer.  In addition, they can help clarify expectations, facilitate better communication with employees, and can reduce risk related to litigation or unionization. As Merritt Bumpass, a partner in the Frantz Ward Labor and Employment Group said,

“An employer has a legal relationship with each of its employees. The crucial issue is what are the terms of that relationship, and the creation of a well written handbook is a very good way to establish clear and acceptable terms of that relationship.”

However, not all handbooks are created equal, and in order to maximize the impact of your organization’s handbook,  we spoke with the attorneys at Frantz Ward LLP, who gave a few suggestions for essential policies you should consider.

Essential Policies:

  • At will disclaimer
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
  • Anti-harassment – including sexual and workplace harassment
  • NLRA disclaimer
  • Non-solicitation
  • Work rules/Discipline
  • Electronic communications
  • Employment status/Classification
  • Attendance/Tardiness
  • Family and Medical Leave
  • Personal/Non FMLA Leave
  • Military Leave
  • Firearms/Weapons
  • Drug free workplace/ Drug testing
  • Workplace injury/Illness
  • Employee Acknowledgement Form

Additional Policies to Consider Including:

  • Welcome statement/Introduction
  • Description of benefits
  • Hours/Work schedule/Lunch/Breaks
  • Timekeeping
  • Employee benefits
  • Dress code
  • Reference requests
  • Updating personnel information
  • Access to personnel records
  • Employee suggestions
  • Continued education
  • Emergencies
  • Business reimbursement
  • Travel
  • Performance evaluations
  • Promotions/Transfers
  • Layoff/Recall
  • Payroll
  • Industry specific regulations
  • Reasonable accommodations
  • Employee complaints
  • Termination of employment/Resignation
  • Non-Fraternization/Dating/Personal relationships including relatives
  • Conflict of interest
  • Receiving/Receipt of gifts
  • Cell phones/Electronic devices while driving – Cell phones/Electronic devices at work
  • Smoking and use of tobacco
  • Working from home

Handbooks are not a one-size-fits-all. These are just some examples of sample policies that could be added to your handbook. All handbooks should be reviewed by legal counsel for compliance with federal and state laws and regulations–and should be modified to fit the organizations culture, industry and practices. If you are a ERC Member, contact the HR Help Desk for additional information on sample handbook policies.

Frantz Ward LLP is an ERC Partner and offers a Litigation Prevention Plan (LPP) that helps ERC members with their annual employment law expenses. Not a member of ERC? See what our Membership has to offer.

Source: Employment Law 2015 guidelines, “What’s Cooking in Labor and Employment Law in 2015,” Frantz Ward LLP.

IMPORTANT: By providing you with information that may be contained in this article, the Employers Resource Council (ERC) is not providing a qualified legal opinion concerning any particular human resource issue. As such, research information that ERC provides to its members should not be relied upon or considered a substitute for legal advice. The information that we provide is for general employer use and not necessarily for individual application. We also recommend that you consult your legal counsel regarding workplace matters when and if appropriate.

This document is intended to provide general information about legal developments, not legal advice. Receipt of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Frantz Ward LLP.

ERC Partners Frantz Ward and Meyers Roman Litigation Prevention Plan

What is Lean Manufacturing?

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Lean Method and Six Sigma: What Is The Difference and Which Do You Need?

Lean Manufacturing concepts eliminate wasteful practices while delivering increased value to the customer, but what does that really mean? We spoke with Rick Bohan, training consultant for ERC, about what lean manufacturing is and the importance of it.

Lean manufacturing can be described differently depending on who you ask. It is a concept understood by many yet lacks an indisputable description. Below discusses a few of the different ways lean manufacturing is described.


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How to Determine if a Job is Exempt or Non-Exempt

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exemptvsnonexemptemployees

The terms non-exempt and exempt can cause a lot of confusion for workers and employers. Exemption status determines if you receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours in a work week. The exemptions are governed by the Fair Labors Standard Act (FLSA).

Non-exempt 

Non-exempt employees must be paid at least the minimum wage and overtime pay for any work performed over 40 hours worked in a week. This time must be paid at a rate of time and one half of their regular pay rate for each hour of overtime.

Exempt

Exempt employees are not granted the same protection under the FLSA, therefore they are paid the same dollar amount regardless of the number of hours worked in a week. Exemptions from the overtime requirements of the FLSA are just that—exceptions to the rule. They are very narrowly construed, and as the employer, you will always bear the burden of proving that you have correctly classified an employee as exempt. When in doubt on the classification of a job, it is best to make them non-exempt.

For most professions, an individual is an exempt employee if he or she meets all of the following three tests: 

  1. Is paid at least $23,000 per year ($455 per week)
  2. Is paid on a salary basis
  3. Performs exempt job duties

But how do you know if the individual performs exempt duties?  As a general rule, exempt employees tend to perform relatively high-level duties with respect to the company’s overall operations.

The most common FLSA exemptions are white collar exemptions and are broken down into five main categories, including: 

  1. Executive
  2. Administrative
  3. Professional
  4. Outside sales
  5. Computer

Other issues

There are also some other concerns to consider when determining non-exempt and exempt status.

  • Time off. Although there are exceptions, it’s usually illegal to give non-exempt employees time off instead of paying them overtime.
  • Child labor. Federal and state laws include special requirements to protect workers under the age of 18. These laws can affect the type of work, wages, and hours that an employee can complete.
  • Breaks. Employers need to make sure they follow federal and state law requirements regarding breaks, including meal breaks, for their employees.

If you have any additional questions regarding non-exempt and exempt employees, and are an ERC Member, contact our HR Help Desk or visit the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) FLSA page at http://www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/.

By providing you with information that may be contained in this article, the Employers Resource Council (ERC) is not providing a qualified legal opinion concerning any particular human resource issue. As such, research information that ERC provides to its members should not be relied upon or considered a substitute for legal advice. The information that we provide is for general employer use and not necessarily for individual application.  We also recommend that you consult your legal counsel regarding workplace matters when and if appropriate.

HR, compliance, termination, or compensation questions?

ERC has a team of HR Help Desk Advisors to provide timely and trusted answers.

Contact the Help Desk

Yelling at Co-Workers and Employees: Is It Ok?

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employee conduct in the workplace Yelling at Co-Workers and Employees: Is It Ok?

Yelling; it’s a part of human communication. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes not. People yell for many different reasons. Maybe it’s to assert themselves over others, or to make their presence known. Maybe they want to incite confrontation or satisfy an ego.

However, what if this is a common practice at your workplace? With any organization, employees at all levels of the business are expected to treat each other with respect. The success of your business heavily depends on co-operation and teamwork among all employees. It’s all about workplace civility.
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The Unique World of “Leave of Absence” Policies

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When an employee takes a “leave of absence," this time away from work can take many forms depending on the situation. From the Family & Medical Leave to Short Term Disability to jury duty to bereavement to military leave, these various policies and structures do share the common purpose of allowing an employee to take time away from work above and beyond vacation time or sick days, while also protecting the employer from potential abuses of these leave requests.

Ultimately, assuming that the employee meets and abides by all of the necessary requirements during the agreed upon leave of absence, the goal for both parties is that their job (or at least a similar position) will be waiting when they are ready and able to return to the workforce. But as is often the case in the world of Human Resources, the application of these laws and policies to the real life situations encountered in the workplace is less than clear cut.
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5 “High-Tech” Hiring Practices to Improve Your Talent Pool

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5 “High-Tech” Hiring Practices to Improve Your Talent Pool

1. Post a job opening on an online job board

Even if you don’t have a fancy applicant tracking system internally, almost all employers, 89% according to the 2013 ERC Hiring Practices Survey are putting their job postings up on some sort of external job board website. Most of these job boards are easy to navigate and should be a matter of simply inputting the information about the job opening and maybe a few pieces of information about your organization.

If the site allows applicants to fill out an online application or submit a resume through their site and funnel that onto you, make sure you review the process from an applicant’s standpoint as well. You don’t want to frustrate potential candidates with a process that your organization didn’t even create before they even get their resume into your email box!
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3 Facts about Measles and the Workplace

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3 Facts about Measles and the Workplace

In 2015, measles was rising health concern in the country. Organization's everywhere wondered what they should do in the event that one of their employees is diagnosed with measles, and how they can prevent other employees from future contact.

Here are four facts about what can and cannot happen when measles comes to your office.

Fact #1:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) no longer provides short-term impairments from its definition of "disability." According to an article on workforce.com, "there is an argument to be made that the measles could qualify as an ADA-disability, provided that it substantially limits a major life activity of the sufferer."

However, considering people infected with measles are out for about a  week, it would be difficult to make a case that a one-week impairment could "substantially limit a major life activity" of the infected.

Fact #2:

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, private employers can require vaccinations as long as they are willing to accommodate employees' disabilities and religions. Employers can review any of these accommodations under the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as similar state and local laws.

However, many states do not have a mandatory policy in place. It also depends on the sector in which you work. An organization in the healthcare sector may have a mandatory vaccine program for its employees since they are more likely to run the risk of coming in contact with a disease like the measles. However, organizations in other industries don't necessarily run the same risks.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states, "Generally, ADA-covered employers should consider simply encouraging employees to get the influenza vaccine rather than requiring them to take it." Even though you run risks when mandating your employees to get vaccinated, another option is to always hold an education seminar on the risks of not being vaccinated.

Fact #3:

Employers can use an ADA-compliant pandemic employee sample survey to give to their employees. On the survey, employees can be asked medical and non-medical questions about the ability of the employee to come to work, in the event of a pandemic. This survey will help give employers information they need to plan if a pandemic happens, and how to shield employers from receiving information about any illnesses that employees might have.

Before an issue arises in your workplace, it's a best practice to stay up-to-date on the Center for Disease Control, federal, state, and local public health guidelines and to also stay mindful of any anti-discrimination laws.

HR, compliance, termination, or compensation questions?

ERC has a team of HR Help Desk Advisors to provide timely and trusted answers.

Contact the Help Desk