If you haven’t updated your employee handbook or HR manual recently, you need to put this at the top of your to-do list. Laws are changing quickly regarding leave, overtime and social media, just to name a few. If you want to stay on the right side of the law, and avoid nasty lawsuits, make sure your book is in order. HR professionals should review new policies with the input of legal counsel.
8 Important Employee Handbook Updates
Here are a few things to watch for:
• Collective Bargaining: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has made it clear that companies must protect their employees’ free speech rights. Handbooks can prohibit employees from revealing confidential business information, but the text should avoid any language that could be interpreted as infringing on free speech.
• Social Media and Digital Data Policies: Handbooks must make it clear that employees have no right of privacy while accessing social media at work.
Employees should not download apps onto a device that also contains employee information. In addition, when a person leaves the information on their device can be swiped clean of the employer’s data.
• Retaliation: Handbooks should state that witnesses and others (whistleblowers) who participate in a retaliation claim would be protected. However, it should also state that the company cannot promise confidentiality for people who make retaliation complaints.
• Pay and Deductions: Unauthorized overtime and improper deductions from worker’s pay are frequent problems that stymie employers. Companies should state in their handbooks that employees may not work overtime without advance permission form their manager and that they will be disciplined if they do not do so. Also, the companies should spell out practices for correcting a mistake in the event of improper payment to or deductions from an employee’s pay.
• State Laws: Ensure that state-specific laws are spelled out clearly. Each year states pass significant changes in employment laws, and the handbook should be updated yearly to include these amendments.
• Attendance: Employers should carefully outline how they will treat a worker who is not eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or who has exhausted such leave. In many cases, the employee may still be eligible for leave under the American’s with Disabilities Act. (ADA).
• E-cigarette/smoking use: Handbooks should specifically mention where e-cigarettes can be used, treating them like any other tobacco product. For states where marijuana use is legal, the handbook should clearly state that employees should not be under the influence of legal drugs that impair them significantly while on the job.
• LGBT Rights: A 2015 U.S. Supreme Court Decision held that states must recognize same-sex marriages. As a result, companies must provide the same health and retirements to same-sex couples that they offer to other wedded individuals. Laws and regulations are still evolving regarding the employment rights of those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Make sure that working with your legal team, you use your handbook to express the intention to treat all employees equally regardless of their marital status, sexual orientation or sexual identity.
SACS Can Help Get Your Handbook Up to 2016 Standards
SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc. has the ability to review and update your existing manual or start from scratch to establish one. We will ensure your employee manual will cover all the bases from hiring to termination. Contact us or call us at 330-255-1101 to speak with one of our HR Policies specialists today!