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Updating Your Employee Handbook

Updating Employee Handbooks, Carol Westberry, The Westberry Group, HRToolKitsOnline.com

Here are 5-Questions to Ask When Updating Your Employee Handbook!

If it’s been awhile since you last updated your employee handbook, you may be in for a surprise at how quickly a handbook policy can become stale. As a matter of fact, those of you who don’t keep up with changing information, both legal and company initiated practices, can find yourselves in costly hot water without ever being aware of the cause until it’s too late.

To help you get started with your handbook update, we’ve compiled a list of questions every handbook reviewer should ask as they audit their company handbook.

  1. Do any of your handbook policies state or imply that the handbook policies create a contract guaranteeing employment? If your handbook doesn’t have an expressed disclaimer stating that no policies contained in the handbook are intended to create or imply a contract or guarantee for current or future employment, then you are leaving the door open for individual interpretation. 
  2. Is it clear who is authorized by the Company to make changes to handbook policies?  As part of your handbook’s notice to employees it should be clearly stated who is the named entity (Position / Title) authorized to make changes.

 

  1. Are your handbook policies clearly and simply written to meet your audience’s needs? So many sample policies are written with clear intention of avoiding lawsuits that we lose sight of the fact that to our employees, it is just mumbo-jumbo. If you want your handbook to be read and policies adhered to, you must ensure your handbook language meets the needs of your target audience.

 

  1. Do your handbook policies make clear what is acceptable conduct in your workplace, and provide complaint procedures that are easily followed? If you answered “no” or “I’m not sure,” then heading back to the drawing board to re-write your policies and procedures is an absolute MUST. Your employees should never be left guessing about what’s expected of them, and how to make their voices heard when things are not as they should be.

 

  1. Has an employment attorney reviewed your policies BEFORE the handbook is distributed to employees? While most handbook templates are usually compliant with federal employment laws, it’s a good idea to have your handbook reviewed by a local employment attorney who is familiar with your state and local laws, as well as your specific industry. Better yet, use a local employment attorney who knows your company.

 

The time you spend reviewing and updating your handbook is definitely time well spent. You certainly don’t want your employees relying on outdated or even illegal policies. Not only will you reduce your risk of lawsuits, but you may be able to obtain lower rates on your employment practices liability insurance.  A regularly reviewed and updated handbook is worth its weight in gold.