Tips for an Employee Handbook Tune-Up

It’s Spring and employers’ hearts turn to thoughts of… employee handbook tune-ups.  The end of the first quarter is often a good time to check your current employee handbook to be sure it’s current and comprehensive.  Some areas to review are:

  • Up-To-Date Policies:  Are you current in such ever-changing policies such as social media, privacy, drug and alcohol testing, cell phone reimbursement, tuition reimbursement, and employee leave rights?  Has the size of your company changed so as to affect the statutory applicability of certain leaves?  For example, the FMLA and many other statutory leaves are based on the size of the employer’s workforce and their applicability may change as your workforce contracts or expands.
  • Training:  Are all supervisors trained to be able to fairly and uniformly implement the policies in your employee handbook including newly-hired or promoted supervisors?  This is important not only for the ongoing enforcement of policies, but also helps to protect against discrimination and employer vicarious liability for employee actions.
  • Fruits of Experience:  Have recent workplace situations shown that certain policies are not workable or well-suited to your organization?  This is the opportunity to revise outdated or unenforced policies – especially those that come from “off the shelf” sources.
  • New Policies Incorporated:  Have all new policies implemented since the last handbook revision been included in both your hard-copy employee handbook and any online versions of your employee handbook?
  • Signatures:  Do you have all employees’ signatures on handbook acknowledgement forms?  A signed employee acknowledgment prevents an employee from being able to claim he or she had no knowledge of a policy.

Takeaway:  Like anything that gets wear and tear, your employee handbook needs occasional maintenance.  The suggestions above are just a few common tips for a handbook check-up.  HR organizations have many more tips and your counsel may have a few ideas too.

About Neal Buethe

Neal Buethe is Head of Briggs and Morgan’s Employment, Benefits and Labor Section. Neal represents professionals, executives, for-profit employers, and non-profit organizations in employment and related matters. He is general counsel to several non-profit corporations, including religious organizations. For Neal’s full bio, click here.

Posted on March 19, 2012, in Employment Policies and Agreements. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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