A properly drafted employee handbook is critical to your organization. Without proper language, documents, and policies, employers can be subject to costly lawsuits and litigation. In addition, a well drafted employee handbook will help in the defense of any employment related matter. If you do not have an employee handbook, I would show you the practical rules for drafting Employee Handbooks: what to include and what not to include, and why. Effective employee handbooks discourage would-be plaintiffs, reduce the cost of employment-related lawsuits, help employers stay in business, and out of court. Handbooks communicate effective human resources policy. Recent legal changes make it imperative to amend your employee handbook:
- Identity Theft: Effective immediately, your handbook must be in compliance with Michigan’s new Social Security Number Privacy Act.
- Sexual Harassment: Employer liability for sexual harassment by co-workers.
- Arbitration: Reduce your statutory liability from many years to a few weeks. Do not attempt to pass along arbitration costs to an employee.
- ADA: Your organization is covered if it employs 20 or more employees. Employers who become aware of a disability and the need for accommodation must discuss that with an employee.
- FMLA: Your organization is covered if it employs 50 or more employees (count leased and/or temporary workers, too). Employers don’t have to count time not properly recorded as FMLA leave in addition to an employee’s 12-week entitlement. Substance abuse may allow an employee to qualify for FMLA leave.
- Fair Labor Standards Act: New tests for exempt personnel. Non-exempt employees denied overtime pay may be awarded double damages plus actual attorney fees.
- Sex Discrimination: Employers may be liable for trans-gender discrimination.
- Workplace Violence: Employers must have zero tolerance policies against threats, bullying, and physical confrontations. Failure to address workplace violence may be a serious MIOSHA/OSHA safety violation.
- Health Care Benefits: Save money by encouraging generic drugs.
- Union Organizing Campaigns: Supervisors must avoid looking at union cards. The NLRB considers that to be a severe unfair labor practice. The remedy: instant union status without an election.
- Electronic Mail, the Internet, and Computers: Employees are generally protected under the 4th Amendment from employer intrusion into their work computers and electronic data unless employers draft a written policy allowing employer intrusion, monitoring, and inspection.
To get started on your new employee handbook: please contact me at your earliest convinence.
If you already have one, please send me your existing handbook via any format: disc, electronic file, or hard copy. After a quick review, I will let you know the issues we need to address, and provide you an estimate. Our handbook project will be scheduled to best suit your needs: meetings, telephone conferences, and/or via electronic mail. My goal is to provide you with an up-to-date employee handbook on disc. Then, you can reproduce your own handbook copies, and make changes.
Recommended Sections for your Employee Handbook
Alcohol and Drug Testing
Employee Disciplinary Procedure
Limitation of Claims
Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) Committee
Inspection of Containers/Packages/Vehicles/Computers/Desks
Call In Pay
Show Up Pay
Employee Status Definitions
Medical Disability Leave
Equal Employment Opportunity
Just Cause Employment
Company History and Philosophy
Right To Know
Worker’s Compensation Benefits
Jury Duty Benefit
Lunch and Rest Periods
Length of Service