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.
- At will disclaimer
- Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
- Anti-harassment – including sexual and workplace harassment
- NLRA disclaimer
- Work rules/Discipline
- Electronic communications
- Employment status/Classification
- Family and Medical Leave
- Personal/Non FMLA Leave
- Military Leave
- 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
- Employee benefits
- Dress code
- Reference requests
- Updating personnel information
- Access to personnel records
- Employee suggestions
- Continued education
- Business reimbursement
- Performance evaluations
- 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.