What if you had a document that informed employees of your expectations, carefully and thoughtfully articulated your rules and benefits, and provided consistent insight into your operating procedures? One that employees would be expected to read and understand, and perhaps even provide you with legal protections and defenses? You can and should have this very document — it’s called an employee handbook.
Oftentimes employee handbooks are created for the wrong reasons (i.e. because your HR Consultant said you should have one or you read online that an employee handbook is necessary). If your employee handbook wasn’t created with great thought and contemplation, it probably isn’t doing you any favors or serving the very purposes it is intended to serve.
It’s neither useful nor advisable to download a template handbook from the internet or use a handbook that was created for a different company. This is because there are so many variables that need to be taken into consideration when drafting an employee handbook, such as the size and location of the company, the industry, the nature of the business, company culture, and desired practices. Without the appropriate level of customized detail, an employee handbook cannot properly serve and protect an organization.
Employee handbooks should define and explain what you expect of your employees and what your employees can expect of you. While a handbook is not a contract, it is often an employer’s first line of defense when an employee challenges a company practice or decision. As such, it’s important that your policies are legally compliant and accurately reflect your actual practices. If your policies are inconsistent with your practices, you may lose your credibility along with your legal defense when a decision is challenged.
If you have an employee handbook, but your policies have not been updated in a couple of years, you should consider having it reviewed for legal compliance and to ensure that your policies are accurate and based on best practices. Participating in a review also serves as a good refresher of your policies.
Hannah advises employers on leave policies, discrimination, harassment, accommodations, wage and hour obligations and any other issues that may arise in the workplace.
Hannah advises employers on leave policies, discrimination, harassment, accommodations, wage and hour obligations and any other issues that may arise in the workplace. In addition to providing practical solutions to employment law matters, Hannah has extensive private practice experience. Her focus included early intervention advice and solutions to employers, as well as representing them in the defense of administrative claims. She now works on a team dedicated to providing solutions for employment law and compliance matters for employers of all sizes. Hannah graduated from William Mitchell College of Law, after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Winona State University.
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