I’ve found myself reviewing a number of employee handbooks for employers lately. Some are great, and others not so much. When it comes to creating or revising a handbook, keep these few basic tips in mind:
- DO emphasize, right from the get-go, that employment is at-will and nothing in the handbook changes that.
- DO make sure you’ve got the latest legalese. Employment laws change a lot, and new policies have to be crafted to keep up. For example, does your anti-discrimination policy contain list “genetic information” as a protected characteristic? It should, thanks to GINA. Is your social media policy in keeping with the latest NLRB rulings?
- DO provide yourself with the utmost leeway to deal with employment situations that arise. Avoid rigid, step-by-step disciplinary policies that could diminish your latitude.
- DON’T make promises you can’t or won’t keep. For example, don’t say performance reviews are conducted twice a year if they are really not.
- DON’T forget to include a detailed and specific complaint procedure when it comes to issues of harassment and/or discrimination. The courts insist.
As a general rule, handbooks should be reviewed annually to make sure they are up to legal snuff.