The beginning of Fall and the Halloween season serves as a reminder that the end of 2021 is fast approaching. Given new federal, state, and local mandates on a number of employment issues and a growing effort at enforcement by all such levels on small and large employers alike, employers should take time now to plan on having their employee handbooks reviewed to prevent a scare that could cost them more money down the road.
An effective and current employee handbook serves several important functions, including:
- Explaining an employer's workplace expectations and potential consequences for failure to comply with the employer's policies and procedures.
- Demonstrating an employer's compliance with employment laws.
- Answering common employee questions such as how PTO time is accrued, when it can carry over, what benefits are offered, and when employees are paid.
- Minimizing the risk of legal claims by encouraging resolution of workplace issues through internal compliance reporting and dispute resolution procedures.
Employers must take steps to ensure their handbooks are well-drafted, as a poorly drafted handbook can increase an employer's financial and legal exposure. In addition, a court may view overly rigid disciplinary procedures as creating a contractual obligation on the part of the employer. Further, an employer can actually create legal obligations or causes of action to be taken advantage of by an employee should it not be clear on policies or benefit issues.
To create a legally compliant handbook, employers should:
- Understand which federal, state, and local employment laws apply to them.
- Know how to draft written policies that comply with applicable laws.
- Train employees and supervisors on how to implement the handbook and its policies.
In addition, employers should adopt best practices related to maintenance and distribution of their handbooks to ensure employees are informed of the most current policies.
These issues are becoming even more important in the face of public health mandates, vaccination mandates, and increased government oversight.
BHMK and its attorneys have decades of experience on these issues and other workplace issues to help protect employers against government and aggressive employee action. Prevention and proactive efforts are the best defense against a bad outcome. Reach out to BHMK to start your handbook update and don’t be FRIGHTENED by new and changing requirements! Contact BHMK at 513-579-1500 and avoid the seasonal scaries!!