Overview: In order to effectively manage employees and supervisors, employers should develop a set of work rules to govern conduct at work. These work rules can be conveyed in an employee handbook or personnel manual as well as through memos to employees and supervisors and other forms of communication. Work rules may address attendance and tardiness, dress codes, grooming and personal appearance, workplace violence, political activity, gambling, workplace dating and nepotism, the use of employer provided equipment and vehicles, monitoring of electronic communications and social media use, harassment, prohibited conduct, moonlighting and off duty conduct, and leaves and time off from work. It is necessary for employers to institute rules to ensure that employees and supervisors receive fair and consistent treatment in frequently encountered situations. Employers should make sure that employees have a clear understanding of the work rules and expectations of behavior as this will serve as a defense for the employer if issues arise.
Trends: Employers should understand that certain work rules are required based on federal, state or local law. For example, it is generally advisable and in some states even required for employers to institute a work rule that harassment is strictly prohibited. Further, the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) as well as complementary state law require that employers implement work rules that will address employee safety and security as well as workplace violence. Employers should be aware of these requirements and make sure to comply with their legal obligations.
Author: Beth P. Zoller, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to include whistleblower immunity notice requirements under the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, effective May 11, 2016.
This resource is under review in light of the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, effective May 11, 2016.
Employers covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and required to properly classify their employees should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) seeking to address the circumstances under which employees classified by the employer as nonexempt will receive the overtime premium should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Updated the when to include, policy and guidance to reflect the Medical Marijuana Act.
Updated to reflect forthcoming FLSA overtime exemption requirements. This resource is also under review in light of the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act, effective May 11, 2016.
Updated to reflect the state medical marijuana law, effective May 17, 2016.
Updated guidance to include North Carolina's Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act (House Bill 2).
Updated to include amendments to employee retaliation protections, effective May 10, 2016.
HR guidance on implementing work rules that effectively address employer objectives and provide employees and supervisors with guidance as to acceptable and unacceptable workplace conduct.