Overview: To create employee handbooks that are effective, employers should include all necessary workplace policies, procedures and practices. In many instances, this policy manual can serve as an employer's best defense in defending any workplace practice or action such as the enforcement of a dress code policy or the investigation of a claim for sexual harassment in the workplace. An employer should ensure that all of the policies in the employee handbook are communicated to all employees and supervisors and that proper training on the policies is provided to the employees. An employer should frequently review the policies in its handbook to see if any need updating based on a change in any law or workplace practice or as the result of a workplace incident which requires clarification of a policy.
Trends: While best practice is to include a disclaimer in the employee handbook in order to prevent it from becoming part of an employment contract, employers should be aware that the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that an overly broad at-will disclaimer in an employee handbook may violate the National Labor Relations Act by infringing upon the rights of both union and non-union employees to engage in a protected concerted activity, i.e., working collectively to improve working conditions. Employers should also be aware that in confronting the diverse workforce of today, it may be necessary for employers to develop handbooks and policies in multiple languages to address employee needs.
Author: Beth Zoller, JD, Legal Editor
Illinois employers seeking to educate employees about the availability of military leave and to demonstrate compliance with Illinois' military leave law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
New York employers seeking to inform employees about the availability of and eligibility requirements for volunteer emergency responder leave and to demonstrate compliance with New York law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Washington employers with at least five full-time equivalent (FTE) employees (located anywhere) who have any employees that perform more than 240 hours of work per calendar year within the City of Seattle should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
The updated statements reflect changes to the Paid Sick and Safe Time Handbook Statement: Seattle, Washington and the Military Leave Handbook Statement: Illinois.
Indiana employers employing 50 or more employees for each working day for at least 20 calendar weeks should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Missouri employers seeking to educate employees about the availability of time off for voting and to show their compliance with Missouri's voting leave law should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
New Jersey employers that are subject to New Jersey's unemployment compensation law and seek to educate employees about the availability of state-provided family leave insurance benefits should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
San Francisco "Formula Retail" establishments that have at least 40 retail sales establishments worldwide, and employ 20 or more people within San Francisco (including corporate officers and executives), that seek to educate employees about special rights and protections available to employees under the San Francisco Hours and Retention Protections for Formula Retail Employees Ordinance and the Fair Scheduling and Treatment of Formula Retail Employees Ordinance should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
The School Activities Leave handbook statement has been removed from the Colorado handbook.
The Maternity Leave handbook statement has been removed from the Ohio handbook.
HR guidance on how to create employee handbooks that includes all employment policies and practices.