Employee Handbook Is Your Handbook Too Wordy? • Write to the level of your entire employee population

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  • Employee Handbook Essentials

    © HR Workplace Services: 16679 N 90th St., Suite 100, Scottsdale, AZ 85260 | 866-691-7757 | info@hrworkplaceservices.com

  • Employee Handbook Essentials

    Common Mistakes and Pitfalls Practice Considerations

  • What Is The Purpose Of Your Handbook?

    1. Communication Resource • Company mission, values, policies, procedures and

    benefits 2. Limits Legal Liability

    • Protects against discrimination and unfair treatment claims

    • Explains applicable laws 3. Administrative Time Saver

    • Helps orient new employees • Answers questions that arise during employment

  • What Should Your Handbook Accomplish?

    THREE “C’s”: 1. Not a Contract 2. Communicate policies 3. Comply with applicable law

  • Mistake #1: One Size Does Not Fit All

    Using Form Handbooks

    • Handbooks must be tailored to your workplace • Forms:

    • May contain irrelevant policies • May omit important material • May make promises you cannot meet

    • Your Handbook must set the right tone for your company and reflect your company’s culture

  • Mistake #2: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

    Conflicting Policies/Practices

    • Scan workplace for practices. If there are no policies, develop them.

    • Do policies reflect practice in workplace? (“You will receive an Annual performance review”)

    • Use wiggle room language (“Generally we attempt to review your performance on an annual basis”)

    • Uniformity and Consistency in Application/Enforcement • Compare Handbook to other company documents (benefit

    documents) to ensure consistency

  • Mistake #3: Too Much Can Hurt You

    Is Your Handbook Too Wordy?

    • Write to the level of your entire employee population • When you can, keep it simple

    • Policies explaining company practices, benefits, etc. should be short and easy to understand

    • Employment laws sometimes make brevity a challenge • Family and Medical Leave Act • Harassment and Discrimination laws

    • Still, avoid overly legalistic language • No “Whereas” or “Heretofores”

    • Do we really need a policy on this topic? • Do not include employee names, other information that changes


  • Mistake #4: Not A Contract

    ...Means Not a Contract

    Eliminate any language that might be perceived as creating rights contrary to employment at will

    • “Probationary”; “Permanent” • Lock step disciplinary practices • Listing disciplinary offenses • Arbitration Agreements • Non-Competition/Confidentiality Agreements • Employee Invention Agreements

  • Mistake #5: Can I Bring My Gun To Work?

    Conforming To State Law

    • Weapons in the Workplace • Access to Personnel Records • Family/Pregnancy Leave • Payment on Termination • Accrual of Vacation • Overtime

    USE OF THE CATCHALL PHRASE “. . . unless otherwise required by state law.”

  • Mistake #6: Navigating “The Bermuda Triangle

    FMLA, ADA & Workers Compensation

    • Three distinct laws which often overlap • Three different government agencies in charge of

    enforcing FMLA – Job Protections, 12 weeks of leave, Benefits ADA – Providing more leave may be “reasonable accommodation” WC – Specific to work-related injury

  • Mistake #7: Did You Hear About...?

    Privacy Issues

    • Medical Privacy – HIPAA may require privacy and security safeguards

    • Confidential Business Information • Computer/Internet/Technology Issues • Searches on Employee Property • Compensation Information

    • Who is in charge of safeguarding this information? • Is importance reflected in your policies?

  • Mistake #8: Are You Kidding Me?

    Unrealistic Policies Don’t commit to a policy that can’t be enforced • No fault attendance policy • Strict progressive discipline policies • NLRB Rulings

    Avoid Rigidity • Listing prohibited conduct • Personal appearance policies • Personal/romantic relationships

    Avoid language which unduly limits discretion

  • Mistake #9: I Thought It Was A Gift!

    Equipment Use & Return

    • Laptops, cell phones, tools, vehicles, uniforms, etc. • What does your policy state about the use of such

    equipment?  at work  on the employees personal time

    Policy should clearly state: 1. Equipment belongs to the Employer 2. Policies to guide proper use, care and return of property 3. Consequences if equipment is damaged, lost or not


  • Mistake #10: Failure To Update & Train

    • Once Handbook is written, it must be periodically reviewed and revised to reflect changes  Law – Policy – Procedure

    • Who is in charge of this? • How often should this be done? • As Company grows, different laws may apply • Are your supervisors trained on policies?  Trained on changes/revisions  Company’s vision/culture

  • Employee Handbook Essentials

    Policy Content

  • Overview

    Policy Must Haves vs. Policy Options

  • The Beginning and The End

    The beginning At-Will Disclaimer and General Disclaimer

    The end Acknowledgement of Receipt (Employee Copy and Employee Copy)

  • EEO – Title VII

    A. Commitment to equal opportunity • Background Checks • Fair Credit Reporting Act

    B. Federal Statutes • Americans with Disabilities (ADAAA) • Pregnancy Discrimination (PDA) • Age Discrimination (ADEA)

    C. Application to all facets of employment • Wages (Equal Pay Act, Lilly Ledbetter, etc.) • Training

  • Harassment & Discrimination

    • Zero tolerance • Training (Employee & Supervisor) • Include sample prohibited behavior – they are prohibited

    even if they are not illegal • Complaint procedure with several avenues for reporting

    e.g., Supervisor, HR, Hotline, anonymous reporting, dedicated website

    • Investigations • No retaliation

  • Employment Classifications

    A. Regular B. Full Time (ACA or Regular) C. Part Time (maybe 30-hours or less) D. Probationary/ “Introductory” E. Seasonal/Temporary F. FLSA classifications (exempt v. non-exempt)

  • Employee Benefits

    A. Another disclaimer! B. Eligibility (remember ACA) C. Right to modify D. General overview – leaving flexibility E. Reference to master documents F. 401k

  • Hours Of Work

    A. Business Hours • Regular hours • Special days/late nights • Inclement weather

    B. Making Schedules/Changing Schedules • How are schedules established? • Can they be altered by employee agreement

    (switching) or is manager approval needed? • Posted, circulated electronically

    C. Telecommuting/Flex Time/Remote

  • Payroll Practices

    A. Timekeeping /Reporting B. Overtime C. Pay Periods D. Bonuses/Commissions E. Deductions – mandatory and voluntary

  • Time Away From Work

    A. Attendance and Punctuality B. Vacation C. Personal Days D. Sick Days E. Accommodations (Disability/Religious) F. Other (Military, Jury, Bereavement, etc.) G. State Laws (Paid Sick Leave, Victim/Witness, etc.)

  • Federal and State Statutes

    • Civil Rights Act 1964 (Title VII) • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAAA) • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) • Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDA) • Age Discrimination in Employment (ADEA) • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) • Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights

    (USERRA) • Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) • COBRA • ACA – Pay or Play Penalties & Tax Reporting • State Paid Sick Leave • State Disability

  • Employee Conduct

    Some topics that are must haves, include A. Rules of Conduct B. Drug/Alcohol C. Confidentiality D. Disciplinary Policy E. Dress Codes F. Workplace Violence

  • Technology

    A. No expectation of privacy B. E-mail C. Internet D. Social Media E. Blogging F. Mobile devices (smart phone, laptop, PDA)

  • Termination of Employment Relationship

    A. Final paychecks

    B. Exit interviews

    C. COBRA/Benefit Continuation

    D. Equipment Return

    E. Employee references

  • Employee Handbook Essentials

    Planning, Customizing and Distributing Your Employee Handbook

  • On Your Mark, Get Set.......Go!

    • Starting from Scratch or Updating an Oldie? • Incorporating Existing Policies and Practices

    – Opportunity for Change – Feedback from Employees

    • Creating Goals and Objectives – User Friendly Format – Creating Expectations – Fairness

  • The Creation Process

    • Investigate • Compile and Write • Review and Revise • Outside Review & Internal Approval

  • Formatting Considerations

    • Table of Contents/Index • Spacing and Bold-Faced Headings • Use Chapters (not page numbers) • Know Your Culture

    – Use of tone – Use of color, graphics, etc.

  • Handbook Complexities

    • Need for Multiple Hand