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
Employers subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) recordkeeping requirements must post Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, by February 1. The form should remain posted until April 30.
The Vermont employee handbook policy statements and associated "when to include" and "employer guidance" for each policy are now live and have been added to the new Employee Handbooks Tool.
Vermont employers seeking to explain how the handbook and supplement should be read together and that neither the handbook nor the supplement alter an employee's at-will status should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Vermont employers with one or more employees should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Vermont employers with more than five employees seeking to demonstrate their commitment to a workplace free of harassment and to comply with the Vermont law requiring distribution of a written policy describing the process for filing internal complaints and setting forth the names, addresses and telephone numbers of the person or persons to whom complaints should be reported, as well as contact information for the state and federal government agencies that receive such complaints should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Vermont employers seeking to show their compliance and support for Vermont law which requires that employers provide unpaid break time and reasonable locations for employees to express breast milk should consider including this model policy statement in a Vermont supplement.
Vermont employers seeking to educate supervisors about the need to provide reasonable break opportunities, to inform employees about their rights with regard to using bathroom facilities during work and to demonstrate compliance with Vermont law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Vermont employers seeking to emphasize compliance with, and educate their workforces about this law, should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Vermont employers with between 15 and 49 employees who work an average of at least 30 hours per week and that seek to demonstrate that they offer both parental and family leave under Vermont's Parental and Family Leave Act (VPFMLA) should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Vermont employers with 50 or more employees that seek to demonstrate that they offer leave under both the Vermont Parental and Family Leave Act (VPFMLA) and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
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.