Avoid Lawsuits with Effective Employee Handbooks
Employee handbooks should be a staple of any business, whether small or large. While it might seem unnecessary to create a handbook for a small company of just four employees, a properly written handbook can help protect your company from liability, ensure consistent communication and establish expectations.
It’s Alive! It’s the Employee Handbook!
One of the most important things to realize is that employee handbooks should be a living document that changes over time. State and Federal laws change constantly. In recent years there have been many new laws concerning social media and data privacy, employees’ free speech, retaliation, the Family and Medical Leave Act and payroll, just to name a few. If your handbook hasn’t been updated to reflect current laws, your managers may unknowingly break them. An employee handbook that is outdated or incomplete is a liability to your company and a stumbling block to your employees.
This, Not That to Avoid a Lawsuit
With any legal document, precise wording and careful editing should be skillfully used to create a beneficial employee handbook. For example, see if you can identify which statement has been ruled illegal for handbooks.
Which of the following statements the National Labor Relations Board has declared illegal for inclusion in employee handbooks?
- Be respectful to employees
- Do not discuss customer information outside of work
- Do not defame the company
All of the above! Each of these statements, as written, has been ruled as “overly broad” and may not be included in an employee handbook. For more examples of legal/illegal statements check out this list of 30 employee handbook dos and don’t from the NLRB. Naturally, you want employees to treat each other with respect and keep client information private, but as written these directives infringe on the employee’s freedom of speech.
On the other hand, extremely detailed wording can also be a problem. For example, it isn’t necessary to include every step of a disciplinary system, which would require the company to follow each step rigidly, regardless of the severity of offense or past problems.
Get Expert HR Help with Your Employee Handbook
Though it takes time, a properly created and updated employee handbook will be a valuable roadmap for your organization for years to come. For a customized approach to ensuring that your employee handbook is complete, legal and is effectively communicating with your team, ask Scott Human Resources for a free one-hour consultation. We are knowledgeable about recent changes to state and federal laws and will make sure that your handbook is a building block for your company’s future success. Call Scott Human Resources at 785-272-5410 or email Office@ScottHR.com today!
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