Most practices and small businesses have gone through a lot of changes in the last couple of years. Does your handbook reflect them?
Posted in Employment Practices on Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Your employee handbook should be a living document, reviewed and potentially updated each year to reflect changes that matter to you and your team. But how do you go about tackling such a task? First, read through the common sections to ensure they're current, complete, and correct. These typically include:
- Terms of employment
- Remote and hybrid work policies
- Payroll deductions
- Paid time off (PTO)
- Business travel
- Overtime policy
- Nondiscrimination policy
- Conflict of interest
- Covid-19 safety and vaccine policy
- Intellectual property
- Code of conduct
- Time and attendance
- Dress code
- Mobile devices
- Social media
- Remote work rules
2020 Continues to Force Changes
Next, since 2020 forced all of us to make changes to our businesses and our lives, there may be areas requiring your policy updates. For example:
Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFFCRA) provides for paid leave for workers who have COVID-19 and/or whose children's school or childcare provider was closed due to the pandemic. While this mandate expired in 2021, some states passed permanent paid-leave laws related to the pandemic, so check your state.
Health & Safety (OSHA) Requirements
It is essential to regularly review your state's OSHA requirements, especially since many changes have been made in the last three years. Many of OSHA's existing rules can be applied to COVID-19 pandemic safety risks. But some states have chosen to prioritize their own OSHA rules over federal mandates. As always, it is imperative to check your state's regulations as well as federal regulations.
An employer with 15 or more employees may not discriminate against workers based on protected characteristics. In 2020 the Supreme Court determined that "sex" discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
Because nearly forty states have approved marijuana use in some form (medicinal or recreational use), employers need to be aware of how their state's applicable statutes might impact employee drug testing. Be sure to review your drug-testing policy to comply with your state's ordinances.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 applies to all employers.
Plan a Yearly Review
Employee Handbooks are not a set-it-and-forget-it document. A review should be scheduled into your annual business housekeeping efforts, along with financial planning, staffing assessments, and equipment inventory. Staying ahead of things takes a time commitment, but it's often less expensive in time and money than letting things become outdated.