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
In-depth review of the spectrum of District of Columbia employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee communications.
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel Richard F. Griffin, Jr., has issued a report concerning recent employer work rule cases. The report discusses and synthesizes a number of recent challenges to employee handbooks and policies that were presented in cases reviewed, challenged or resolved by the Office of the General Counsel.
As mandated by the City and County of Denver, Colorado Anti-Discrimination Office, all Denver employers subject to the municipal antidiscrimination ordinance must post the Denver, Colorado Antidiscrimination Poster.
As mandated by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, New Jersey public employers must post the New Jersey Safe and Healthful Workplace Poster.
The New Jersey 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.
New Jersey 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.
New Jersey employers should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
New Jersey employers seeking to inform employees about their policy against voter intimidation and to demonstrate compliance with New Jersey law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
New Jersey employers seeking to inform employees, including supervisors, that employees may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation for known limitations relating to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, including recovery from childbirth should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
New Jersey employers seeking to inform employees of their rights under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) and to provide detailed information regarding reporting procedures 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.